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Elmira/Corning

Kids Get Up Close with MMA Role Models

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Kids Get Up Close with MMA Role Models
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While Binghamton Mixed Martial Arts fans cheered on their favorite amateur fighters on Friday night, some lucky kids got to take part in the action. YNN's Elyse Mickalonis has more on why these youngsters were there and what the fighters had to say about it.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — It’s one of the fastest growing sports in America.

"MMA is for everybody. It’s a good way to keep in shape, a good way to test you. I think that all around it’s a very good sport,” said Giuseppe Diloreto, MMA fighter.

Binghamton Mixed Martial Arts fans cheered on their favorite amateur MMA fighters at The Art of Combat III, but some fans got to a little bit closer than the sidelines – walking fighters out.

“I think it’s really fun, because we go out and support them, walk them to the cage and say, 'good luck,’” said MacKenzy Gray, Binghamton resident.

Students from Power of One MMA in Vestal may not be pros yet, but with practice, many hope to reach that level.

“Just seeing people fighting in the ring motivates me more to want to do this when I get older, so when I’m 18 I can actually get out in the ring and fight someone,” said Joelle Delisle, Apalachin resident.

Despite some questioning the violence in the sport, parents say they’re proud of their children for taking on MMA, saying it teaches them more than just fighting.

“The respect is amazing. They’re learning respect for themselves, the proper ways to eat, set goals, how to respect their coaches,” said Shannon Willett, Vestal resident.

And while the kids say they’re happy to walk their role models up to the cage, fighters say the gives give them a little something extra to fight for.

“The younger kids walking us out gives them someone to look up to and I feel privileged to be one of those guys,” said Diloreto. “Them looking up to me is motivation enough.”

Just the right amount of confidence to fight hard and show the next generation what can be accomplished with a lot of hard work.

Currently, professional MMA fights are illegal in New York State. Organizers hope that events like the Art of Combat provide amateur fighters with a professional arena to compete in.

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