Union resident and amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Christian Patterson picked up a win during his first official MMA fight on Saturday.
Patterson competed in an event hosted by the Charity Fight League at the Duplin County Event Center in Duplin, N.C.
Proceeds from the event went toward Step Up For Soldiers — an all-volunteer group providing renovations, recreation and recognition for recently disabled veterans.
The event featured six amateur fights and three professional fights.
In amateur competition, Patterson won his fight against Brian Stebbins by way of submission 1:06 into the first round, using a rear naked choke.
Patterson began practicing karate with Jamie Vaughn of Union Karate Center during high school, and he has continued to do so for the past five years.
“I love training with Jamie,” Patterson said. “When training with him, he takes you to different people, so I’ve had several influences.”
Although Patterson’s first MMA fight was on Saturday, he has had various full-contact kickboxing matches in the past.
Patterson said that with the enormous popularity of mixed martial arts right now, he became interested in the sport.
“It has gotten really big, but I watch it a little differently,” Patterson said. “Some people just want to see a knockout or see a submission, but I watch it more for the purpose of the technique behind it, like what someone may have done to defeat his opponent so easily.”
When it comes to the most well known MMA fighters, Patterson says two that really stick out to him are Anderson Silva and Lyo Machida.
“They are old school karate guys,” he said. “They don’t go to an MMA camp and work solely on MMA. They do traditional karate.”
Patterson pointed out that there are some big differences between fighting in major pro MMA fights such as those in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) and the regional pro and amateur fights in which he competes. One of those differences is the style of preparation. Amateur MMA fighters cannot necessarily train for one particular opponent.
“You may have a scheduled opponent, but on the amateur level, it can change within 24 hours,” he said, discussing last Saturday’s event. “I started out with one guy who didn’t take the fight. Then the next guy couldn’t get medical clearance. You just never know. You have to adapt to everything.”
Vaughn said not only is Patterson a good fighter, but he is also a positive influence on younger martial arts students.
“He was one of my first black belts in Kempo,” Vaughn said. “He teaches the kids’ classes when he has time. He’s a great role model.”
“Karate has given so much to me, I like to give back,” Patterson said. “When you start doing the full-contact kickboxing, kids start to look up to you. I try to be an example, and I try to help with the kids’ classes as much as I can. It keeps you really humbled.”
Patterson’s next MMA fight is scheduled for Oct. 12 at Shaw Air Force Base.