It’s been a little over a year that Team Liberty Mixed Martial Arts organized a group of fighters and opened a training center. It wasn’t well known unless you were a Facebook fanatic. But that all changed on June 19.
That Saturday, Fort Stewart hosted the Father’s Day Knockout, pitting Liberty MMA against several fighters from Savannah’s Team Redline. In the title fight Liberty MMA fighter Chris Brinkley knocked out Redline opponent Chris Scott.
"It felt great," Brinkley said, looking back to the bout. "My wife was there and it was our anniversary and Father’s Day weekend and the kids and a lot of my friends and family were there for support and it was great."
Brinkley is co-founder of Liberty MMA, but the idea came after meeting his trainer and team Liberty MMA founder Dewayne Taylor.
Taylor said he started boxing as a small child, joined the wrestling team through middle school and high school, earning two state titles and later joined the football team.
But it was four years ago, while working and living in Mobile, Ala., that he was introduced to MMA.
He said he was in a gym one day and saw someone doing an extreme workout. He asked the man about his training. Taylor said the man said he was a MMA fighter and invited Taylor to join him the next day.
"I showed up," Taylor said. "And my wrestling (skills) kicked right back in and my boxing kicked right back in. I mean, I did get beat up that first week. I went home and told my girlfriend at that time, ‘I’m not going back.’"
But he did go back and kept training and eventually started learning. He said it changed his life.
"I was kind of a ruffian," he said. "I was a good guy but a little bit of a rough guy. But (MMA) took all that away. It really focused me.
By the third week of training, Taylor said his coach arranged his first fight and he won in the first round by a knockout.
"I always thought I was a pretty tough guy, but I really knew nothing about defending myself," Taylor said. "It all blew my mind and it captivated me."
When his work in Alabama ended, Taylor moved to Hinesville and trained for a while at a local martial arts academy. That’s where he met Brinkley.
"We started training at his house and at my house," Taylor said."It started as just a vision of just a couple of guys getting together and just training," Brinkley said. "I love getting in the cage. That was my goal, to become an amateur fighter. So I’ve already met and exceeded some of my goals. Now my vision for the gym is constantly changing and evolving because we are seeing a nice turn out. The sky is the limit."
After the Father’s Day Knockout Brinkley said people started calling and showing up at their training center, which is currently housed in the storefront area of Brinkley’s family flooring and carpeting company on Highway 84.
"We are reaching out to the military and to the kids and community," Brinkley said. "We do this because we love it and we want to get as many people involved as we can. We’ve seen a number of new members come in just since the fights."
Taylor said training classes are every Tuesday, Thursday evening and Saturday mornings. The center is open to children as well and Taylor teaches a children’s class before working with the men and women. Participants are able to work at their own pace until they decide they are ready to move up as a team fighter. At that point Taylor said the routine becomes more intense.
Participants pay a monthly fee.
Taylor’s fiancé Jennifer Rouse teaches the women’s fitness programs which incorporates a combination of aerobics with weight training.
"Muscles burn fat," she said. "The more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn so if you just do cardio you’ll burn fat but if you incorporate muscle training into it you’ll burn more."
She said she is healthy today because of Taylor’s training.
"About three years ago I was 230 pounds and I lost it all by exercise, watching my diet and training with him," she said.
Brinkley said they are looking to host more public events. He said they are planning one at Hunter Army Airfield soon and are discussing another at Fort Stewart.
For more information on Liberty MMA, call 912-294-8104 or 912-271-2278.