23-year-old Garrett Holeve is an aspiring mixed martial artist with dreams of becoming a UFC fighter. The only problem? He has Down Syndrome.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this.
The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), at its core, is about two guys fighting. Is it unusual to hear about handicapped athletes entering the cage? Not if you're "Notorious" Nick Newell, a one-armed fighter who's 9-0 as a professional under the XFC banner.
But Down Syndrome?
It hasn't stopped 23-year-old Garrett Holeve, who competes in his third exhibition fight at the Ultimate Kickboxing and MMA Challenge in February, a charity event to help benefit the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, according to a feature from Chris Sweeney in Broward Palm Beach New Times.
"I'm dangerous. I'll hurt a guy real bad. I'll be covered in too much blood, and I'll keep hurting him. Kick him in the mouth so hard the mouth guard flies out. I will go for a contract for the UFC, get the contract, sign it, and be on UFC."
That's a pretty tall order.
Garrett's father, Mitch Holeve, insists his son will never go pro and realizes he's unlikely to convince the Special Olympics to include MMA, but hopes to "find some special-needs kids we can start training and have our own little Special Olympics for the kids who want to do this."
Alright fight fans, let's get some feedback.
I don't think I would have a problem if an athlete with Down Syndrome competed in a grappling tournament, or put on the pads and headgear to spar a few rounds in the boxing ring. Wrestling? I'm all for it. But somehow when you combine them all inside the cage -- even as an exhibition -- it feels wrong.