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JBLM Soldiers advance at Combatives tournament

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His shirt spotted with blood from a cut on his opponent's face, an exhausted Cameron Martinez sat in a chair in a busy training room inside Soldiers Field House on Joint Base Lewis-McChord with a big smile on his face.

With the large championship belt was around his waist, Martinez held up his hands as a trainer cut off the tape, unveiling the hands that connected on punch after punch in his match at the JBLM Combatives Tournament April 13 at the base.

"I hurt my fist," the 555th Engineer Brigade Soldier said with a chuckle.

But it was a price worth paying for notching a win over Cody Opsahl in the Flyweight championship bout. The victory earned Martinez a spot at the All-Army Combatives Tournament July 22 at Fort Benning, Ga.

After a first round that saw both fighters take a beating, Martinez connected on a flurry of punches early in the second round, forcing officials to declare a victory for the Kenosha, Wisc., native.

"I didn't want to take him to the ground," Martinez said. "His ground game is way too good. As soon as I saw his eye (starting to swell shut) his morale started to go away and I just went after him. That was pretty much my game plan, to just go in there and try to bang it out and try and knock him out. But he's got a strong head."

The victory, witnessed by his mother sitting in the crowd, was atonement for last year's loss in the first round.

"I've been training hard for two months," the 20-year-old Martinez said.

A flurry of punches also helped land Bantamweight champion Corey Sigmund a championship belt and a trip to Fort Benning. After tussling with opponent Courtney Olofson on the ground early in the first round, Sigmund escaped her grip and got back on his feet.

It was just what he needed, as Sigmund pinned Oloffson up against the cage's fence and landed a series of quick punches before the official declared victory for the 5-foot-2 Soldier.

"I definitely didn't want to go to the ground because I heard she has a good ground game, so I wanted to stick to standing up," said Sigmond, a Soldier with the 593rd Signal Battalion. "How hard can you fight when you have a barrage of punches going at you? I wanted to get in and out."

New to the combatives scene, Sigmond, a San Diego, Calif., native, worked hard training between four and five hours every weekday over the last six or seven weeks getting ready.

"It's an (adrenaline) rush," the 19-year-old said of being in the ring.

Originally scheduled to deploy with his unit in July, leadership now might have to make alternative plans for Sigmond as he prepares for Fort Benning.

"I'm definitely not going to say no (to a trip to Fort Benning)," he said.

Benjamin Townsend, a Soldier from the 42nd Military Police Brigade, punched his ticket to the All-Army tournament behind an arm-bar submission hold in his Lightweight match against Johnn Shadwick.

After an action-filled first round, Townsend, a Donners Grove, Ill., native and Steilacoom resident, took Shadwick to the ground early in the second and latched on.

"He was getting tired and I just thought I had to go for it," Townsend said. "I did and it worked out."

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