Mixed martial arts (MMA) action is coming back to Junction City.
Never Surrender MMA will host a Full Battle Rattle at Courtyard by Marriott March 30 in Junction City.
Never Surrender MMA is a MMA promotion company owned by veterans and organized for veterans. Frank Portillo and Sam Kleinbeck — the owners of the company — are both retired US Army soldiers.
“Never Surrender is kind of a tribute to the foundation of what the Army is,” Portillo said. “Never surrender, never quitting, never stepping back from the enemy. It’s something we want to give back to the veterans to show that, even though you’re retired or you’re out, there’s no reason to step back. Especially when it comes down to PTSD and mental issues that soldiers get out of the Army or any armed force. This company is for them and all of our hires are veteran based, and we want to get into the realm of inviting more veterans or even active-duty soldiers to compete. If not compete, be part of the company. To not only show support for what the Army gave us, but back to the community of Junction City.”
Putting on an event like this takes a lot of planning, and a lot of reaching out to individuals. It starts with a general idea, then building off that to make the event as promising as possible.
“Setting up a fight starts from the very inception of just having an idea,” Portillo said. “Then from the idea, develop your concepts and you develop your people around to support it. Then you go out and find the fighters, recruit the coaches and really bring it all together to make it cohesive to work as a very smooth, very fluid operating system.”
Fighters were recruited from local areas and gyms, with organizers gauging interest on who may be interested in fighting. They recruited fighters and coaches from Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. After putting out the initial word to see who would be interested in fighting, it was more of a waiting game to see who was willing to commit to the event. On the March 30 slate will be 10 MMA fights, three kickboxing fights, and a four-man black-belt Jiu-Jitsu tournament. There will also be something different included in that series of fights.
“This show, we are having two knight fights, (having) two guys put on armor and then get in the cage,” Kleinbeck said. “They are going to hit the swords around a little bit to help entertain.”
The main event is one Kleinbeck and Portillo feel local fans should be really excited about, which will likely be the last fight for the two participants before they turn professional.
“Our main card is Justin Henry and Colton Hill; very good and up-and-coming fighters,” Portillo said. “At this level, they are at the high or the medium-high level at their skill set. Colton Hill is a multi-show title-holder. He’s got six belts from different shows. Justin Henry is a very good wrestler and has a belt. It’s going to be a very good fight, and it’s a rematch.”
Hill won the first bout between the two, so Henry will be looking to get even in their Saturday night showdown. Kleinbeck is thankful the two decided to fight one more time for Never Surrender MMA before turning pro.
After all the hard work and dedication it took to organize the event, Kleinbeck and Portillo hope plenty of locals attend to enjoy the show. Kleinbeck is hopeful everything will turn out as planned.
“I just hope the fans come out and have a good time,” Kleinbeck said. “I hope the fighters have a safe place and that’s what we really instill in each other, is we need to make it safe for the fighters; a good place for the fighters to fight. Then we want the fans to have a good time, so we put on a really good show.”
Kleinbeck and Portillo also announced a new company motto for Never Surrender MMA, something they hope will raise awareness to those in need.
“We are starting up a thing for the prevention of veteran suicide,” Kleinbeck said. “It’s a Never Give Up Never Surrender 22-0, because 22 veterans a day commit suicide, and we’re not going to stop until it’s zero. We want our veterans to know we’re here for them. Get help if you need help; it’s not a sign of weakness.”
The doors will open at 6 p.m. March 30. Tickets are available online or at will-call the night of the event. VIP tickets will be $50, and general admission tickets will be $30, prior to any additional fees.