by RENALDO DORSETT
For the second consecutive weekend, Empire Mixed Martial Arts’ Team Beast Mode traveled to Florida to compete and this weekend was marked by an iconic moment in Bahamian sports history.
It was a successful debut for Jasmine Wilchcombe as she became the first Bahamian female to professionally fight in the MMA cage.
At Real Cage Fights 27 in Melbourne, Florida this weekend, Wilchcombe was one of three Bahamians and team Beastmode members to score wins at the event.
She won her bout via referee stoppage due to injury.
Her debut is another major stride toward the local development of the sport.
She has been training with Empire MMA for six months, and Empire MMA founder Dr. Kent Bazard has expressed his optimism in her performance.
“She has a foundation in karate and added to that she has learned a lot about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,” he said, “She has also gone through two wrestling seminars to balance out her game on the ground but it has been noticeable that her striking has improved a lot.”
With the continued growth of the sport and with major brands like the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) becoming household names, female fighters have emerged as major icons in the sport.
“Females are the future of the sport and even the UFC, the biggest name in MMA, became the last major organisation to take females on as fighters and it has paid huge dividends,” Dr Bazard said. “You have seen Ronda Rousey making big splash recently and people have become attracted because they don’t see them fighting as ‘girls’ so to speak. But respect it because they are fighting like trained professionals.”
Kenny Neymour, who Dr. Bazard called the one of the rising stars in the sport, won by TKO.
Neymour recently completed a training camp in California and successfully followed up his debut earlier this year at an event in Orlando where he knocked his opponent out 15 seconds into the fight.
In the third bout, Pierre Simmons also won by decision.
Empire MMA was established in 2006 by Dr Bazard, who boasts 33 years of experience in martial arts and extensive training in mixed martial arts.
The group trains in Sanda (Chinese full contact striking), American Freestyle Wrestling, Judo and Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ).
Its affiliations include the Bahamas Wushu Sanda Association, International Wushu Sanda Federation, World Sanda League, World Combat Grappling Alliance, World Cup of MMA, BlackHouse MMA, MMA Masters, SUDA MMA and Bolt Wrestling.