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Cage Potato Salute: MMA’s Veterans, In Their Own Words

The Marines, enjoying someone fighting for them for a change. (Photo:

There is no shortage of military metaphors in the world of MMA. “War Diaz.” “War Penn.” Our athletes don’t just compete, they go to battle. Even that shirt you claim not to own is ‘an expression of combat known worldwide’.

But these are mere words. For a select few of the sport’s elite, the challenges they encounter inside of the cage are nothing compared to the trials they signed up for by enlisting in the armed forces. It turns out the reasons MMA fighters serve their country, and their experiences in the military, are as varied as anyone else’s. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, check out a quick glimpse of their lives in uniform.

Thanks to the folks at Ranger Up for making their crew available.

Liz Carmouche

Sergeant, United States Marine Corps (5 years), three tours to Iraq

What drew you to enlist in the armed forces?

I was drawn to the military because I love a challenge and I love to travel, two things I thought the marine corps could offer me. I was going to school full time and working full time and I couldn’t afford college anymore. I had done my research and knew that I could get the gi bill which would pay for school. All the stories I heard about missions and boot camp sounded amazing. Everything just seemed to add up that the military was my best option.

On a typical day in service you’d find me… 

A typical day in the military consisted of little sleep and sacrificing that little to sleep to lift weights and run. In Iraq after my workout I’d walk to work with my weapon and gear.  As a unit we’d do morning fod walk then work off the aircraft maintenance in our shift. While I was working and waiting for equipment to test I’d usually do pushups, squats, lunges, and curls with the tools I had. After my 12-16 hour workday I’d do my long walk home. It was chill time alone to relax and mellow out from the workday. By the time I got back to the can or hut I lived in I would just shower then listen to music or try and watch a movie on a friends working laptop.

What has your time in the military meant to you?

My time in the military was opportunity. I met people I never would have met and saw things I never would have seen. It also opened up doors that previously weren’t even possible. College, something previously taken off the shelf was made possible again. I met people that introduced me to sports I had always been interested in like snowboarding and skydiving. My time in the military represented a lot growth for me.


Tim Kennedy

(Photo: & Ranger Up)

Ranger Qualified Special Forces Sniper (2003-Present), Bronze Star recipient

What drew you to enlist in the armed forces?

9-11 had a really big impact on me in the sense that it gave me an opportunity to look at my life and I thought it was a very pointless, pathetic, narcesis, ethnocentric existence. I wanted to do something important, so I enlisted to change my life.

On a typical day in service you’d find me… 

My unit, we’re shooters.  So we spend three days of the week at the range. So Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, we’re at the range, and Monday we’re getting ready for the range and Friday cleaning up after the range.

What has your time in the military meant to you?

Having the honor to defend our country is something that every single person should do in their life.  I’m not saying everybody has to be a shooter, but it changed me in every way. A shit head in 2002 to a hard working, productive member of society within two years. It changed my life in every way. So now when people are using their constitutional first amendment right—even if it’s things that make my blood boil—when it happens I know I’ve done my job because I’ve fought for the constitution and to defend this country and now they’re using that right that I’ve defended. So I love seeing people do things that I’ve fought for.


 Jorge Rivera


Private First Class (E-3), U.S Army (1990-1992) Montgomery G.I. Bill

What drew you to enlist in the armed forces?

I enlisted in the army because I was coming out of high school with no real plans and had gotten my girlfriend pregnant so I had to do something to provide.

On a typical day in service you’d find me… 

On a typical day you would find me in the motor pool working on our M-1 tank.

What has your time in the military meant to you?

I’ve found that it’s helped with life in general. I’ve also found a much deeper appreciation for my country as well.


Today is about more than bitching that you can’t go to the bank and the ability to speed through school zones. If you see a man or woman in uniform, let them know that they are appreciated.


- Chris Colemon (@ChrisColemon)


Cagepotato Comments

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fatbellyfrank- November 13, 2011 at 4:29 am
Ex Aussie Navy, just got home from one of the best weekends I've had in a long time, Engineers reunion from my old helicopter suadron HS817, squadrons deccomissioning after being in service since 1942, bitter sweet weekend but great to catch up, to all the sevicemen and women of ours, your's, the Brits, canucks and all our allies, raising a cold beer at ya.
BaghdadBob- November 12, 2011 at 6:12 pm
Former Infantryman here. Some of the best times of my life. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.
DARKHORSE06- November 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm
@ Viva Hate and RWR - Thanks fellas. I will say the best thing about a deployment is the free UFCs. That saved me like $500 or so in PPV. So hurry your ass to AFG to catch UFC 140-160!
Viva Hate- November 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm
@J. Spaceman,
There are three things you can always count on, death, taxes, and me saying horrible things.
@Darkhorse, I second what RWR said welcome home homie.
RwilsonR- November 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm
Ex-Navy here. I was a flyer... briefly. I had it easy, though. A lot of people sacrificed a lot more than me, and continue to do so every day. Thank you to all of them!
Darkhorse - I read what you wrote yesterday that you just got back stateside. Welcome home man!!!
itsgalf- November 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm
Good article man. Currently I work for the US Navy (not active duty) on ships out in the Persian Gulf. Man, that's easy compared to being on the frontline. I know how shitty it can be over there.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Joining the military is a lot like competing in Martial Arts...they both teach people discipline.
J. Spaceman- November 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm
Ex-Navy here. It's always a little awkward for me when people thank me for my service; I'm never quite sure what to say. But I always know what to do with a free drink.
@Viva Hate, for the love of all things American, please don't stop saying horrible things!
skeletor- November 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm
Damn Italia, I am still amazed at how sensitive you are. Either way you can thank the brave men and woman of the US military for allowing sensitive pansies like yourself for having the choice to serve. And I will thank the brave men and woman of our military for volunteering to protect our country so we don't have to rely on sensitive pussies like Italia to protect us.
Liverpunch- November 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm
As a Coastie, I've had the privilege of serving with a lot Navy, Marine and Air Force cats during my deployments to Haiti, Brazil and Uruguay and they've all been top notch individuals...Yes, even the Navy cats. It just reminds me what a kick ass military we have overall.

Hoping I get my deployment to the sandbox so I start collecting some Army patches and challenge coins.
CrushCo- November 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm
And if you're a reader and you've served, let us hear it in the comments!
Viva Hate- November 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm
No thank you, people like you allow me to say the often horrible things I often say and if you are ever in the Boston area, you are owed some beverages on me.
DARKHORSE06- November 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm
@Viva Hate Says - Thanks you Sir! It means a lot.
CrushCo- November 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm
@Italia: Thanks. I tried to get Stann, but it's a busy week for these guys (I spoke with Kennedy this morning as he was walking away from the NYC parade- he said it was amazing). We did a piece with Stann yesterday, though, so check it out if you missed it.
italia furia- November 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm
skeletor walks up to defenseless vietnam vets in wheelchairs and pushes them over...

cool piece. no Stann the Mann though?
Viva Hate- November 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm
To any U.S. military veterans who read CP, thank you!