With hopes of becoming a more complete fighter, Alaska Native kickboxer Falon Ring entered a pair of major jiu-jitsu tournaments in Texas and New Mexico in an effort to expand his mixed martial arts skills.
He went in to polish his ground game. He left polishing a new championship belt and two gold medals.
The Yup'ik 17-year-old -- who won an International Kickboxing Federation bantamweight title last year -- added to his collection by winning a lightweight championship belt in Texas and claiming titles in two separate divisions at Southwest Grapplefest IV in New Mexico.
"It's been fun," said the 5-foot-6, 125-pounder.
Ring was born in Anchorage and lived in the Y-K Delta for many years before his family moved to New Mexico. There he was fell in love with combat sports, specifically kickboxing. He is an undefeated fighter looking to enhance his MAA skill set.
Already an accomplished striker, Ring wanted the full package.
In Texas, he was victorious in the Teens Expert Division at the North American Grappling Association's Dollamur Championship. The NAGA is one of the world's largest mixed grappling tournament circuit with more than 120,000 competitors.
In New Mexico, Ring won titles in the Teens No-Gi Advanced 125-pound division and Men's No-Gi Intermediate 140-pound division.
He prevailed in one of his matches after dislocating his opponent's arm with a submission hold.
"He wouldn't tap out," Ring said. "I had an arm bar on him."
Ring was surprised the kid lasted as long as he did.
"I had done that submission on a couple other people and normally people tap right away," he said. "He tried doing a little slam almost; you know, pick me up and drop me. But when he dropped me I could just feel the elbow give out all the way."
Ring currently trains out of MEAN 1 MMA & Fitness with professional fighter Keith Jardine and he had MMA trainer Chris Luttrell in his corner at Grapplefest.
As you can expect, he's a big fan of UFC and loves watching the fights on TV.
"Sometimes I just like watching, but other times I'm watching what they're doing and seeing how to defend it," he said.
Ring tuned in recently to see MMA legend Randy Couture get knocked out.
"I was rooting for Randy," he said. "Then all of sudden he got knocked out. I was just like 'Whoa!' "
While lots of kids dream of being football and basketball players, Ring wants to be a professional fighter representing Alaska.
"I see myself fighting on TV sometime," he said.
This story is posted with permission from Alaska Newspapers Inc., which publishes six weekly community newspapers, a statewide shopper, a statewide magazine and slate of special publications that supplement its products year-round.