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The Voice of the COMMUNITY .0. ft IS GROWNUP GIIFT . o FF OH Aw PRPw l N KEw s w s i KIDS Or ALL AGES . . . NEW STORE NORTH SOUTH RESEARCH E. RIVERSIDE STASSNEY 832-8544 443-2292 502-9323 441-5555 707-9069 NEW STORE!! SAN MARCOS \(512 392-4596 SAN ANTONIO NEW STORE EAST CENTRAL EVERS MILITARY WEST AVE 654-8536 822-7767 521-5213 333-3043 525-0708 NEW STORE! IN AUSTIN CESAR CHAVEZ 3111 E. CESAR CHAVEZ \(East of Pleasant Valley 247-2222 parlance. Farris won’t tap. When the referee finally stops the match, 37 seconds in, Farris’ arm is broken. The crowd cheers for the kid; Allmand’s cornermen lift him onto their shoulders. Meanwhile, Farris has to push his way gingerly through a crowd waiting to buy hot dogs to get to his dressing room and medical attention. Welcome to mixed martial arts, Texas-style. IF YOU’RE NOT FAMILIAR with mixed martial arts, or MMA, you probably know it by “ultimate fighting” or “cage fighting” or “no-holds-barred fighting.” Then there’s “human cockfighting,” which Sen. John McCain came up with in the 1990s, when the sport was unregulated by gaming commissions and was known for throwing men of wildly different shapes, sizes and fighting styles into a cage and letting them have at each other. These days, MMA is regulated and profitable. Competitors, once merely bar-bruisers or one-trick ponies, are now considered among the finest athletes in the world, with black belts and championship trophies in three, sometimes four, fighting styles with exotic names like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muy Thai boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling. MMA stars appear in movies and commercials for sports drinks. Payper-view events regularly take in tens of millions of dollars, and a popular fighter can earn hundreds of thousands for a few minutes’ work. Fans no longer have to hide their faces in decent company. In the wake of this newfound cultural acceptance, innumerable amateur leagues have sprung up around the countryhumble, shoestring events like the Lonestar Beatdown. What these promotions lack in money, sponsorship deals and celebrity endorsements, they make up for in enthusiasm and cockeyed optimism. And lots and lots of blood. AT THE ARENA THEATRE in Houston, there are reminders everywhere that this is a true minor-league sporting event. The ring girls are moonlighting dancers from a local gentleman’s club; the cocktail waitresses are borrowed from Hooter’s. A man behind me stands for the entire three-hour event, mumbling, “Kidney shots, kidney shots, kidney shots,” like some solemn, unacknowledged mantra. One fan wears a Michael Vick T-shirt. Then there are the fighters: muscled, untested, striving young men pounding their chests to heavy metal music. Men with big-time nicknames like “The Gentleman Mauler” and “The Black Beast,” but small-time records: 1-0, 2-1, 0-1. Men with dreams of professional glory, with more guts, perhaps, than sense. There is light-heavyweight Edgar Verdin, who looks terrifying strutting to the cage in his Mexican-flag AUGUST 20, 2010 headband, right up until the moment when he can’t get his jeans jacket off and his coaches have to come to his rescue. There’s 170-pounder Craig Gardener, who wins the welterweight belt after walking to the cage to the theme song from the movie Beverly Hills Cop, perhaps the least intimidating music ever written. The man everyone had come to see was Jason David Frank, the 36-year-old former star of the children’s martial arts television show Mighty Morph in Power Rangers. He retired from showbiz and opened a couple of martial arts studios in East Texas. This is his first match. Leading up to the fight, many had mocked Frank for wanting to step into the cagea children’s BROWSE the Lonestar Beatdown website at