The brotherhood of mixed martial arts

By Nick LaRosa
April 23, 2011

Juniors Ryan Sankey, left, and Ryan Bunda spend much of their time together training for the chance to one day participate in a cage fight.

Juniors Ryan Sankey and Ryan Bunda share much more than the same first name. They share the bond and time commitment that goes along with the practice of mixed martial arts.

Mixed martial arts cover a variety of disciplines ranging from boxing and wrestling to Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Sankey and Bunda have been active in training but are still approximately two years away from being ready to participate in an actual fight.

Being involved in MMA may seem like a dream come true for Sankey and Bunda, but they know how difficult it is to get their foot in the door or, quite literally, the cage.

“People always say they want to do UFC, but they don’t know all of the steps,” Sankey, communication major, said. “Once people find out about it they want to learn about it because its not something a normal person walks around knowing.”

Bunda and Sankey both reside in Bucks County, Pa. and crossed paths with each other when training at area gyms. The fact that they both attend Cabrini only adds to the bond they have already developed.

Sankey inherits his interest in the sport from family; his older brother was an MMA fighter and his father holds a five-degree black belt. Bunda, on the other hand, sees his training as a way to prepare for the future.

“It’s good to have some type of martial art in you,” Bunda, criminology major, said. “My brother is a police officer and my future is being in law enforcement.”

Even though MMA is typically a one-on-one sport, there is still a need for teamwork and support from others. This even involves group gatherings, usually at Applebee’s, to discuss tactics and give each other advice.

“We have a table with anywhere from eight to 12 or 15 people,” Sankey said. “But we don’t just talk about this and that, we actually watch [UFC] and talk about pointers that will help you in the long run.”

If not for the team and all of its components, success in MMA would be much harder to come by, according to Sankey.

“You have training partners, coaches, people who watch over your diet,” Sankey said. “It’s really a big thing. You can’t make it in the sport without other people.”

The two have received tremendous support from family and friends and are making it a priority to stay in shape. Bunda wrestled for five years before arriving at Cabrini and Sankey was a member of the Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team.

“You have to be in shape and when you start out you’re not going to be in shape and you’re not going to be used to it,” Sankey said. “It’s a fun sport but you have to stick with it.”

Training is the key to Sankey and Bunda’s success in the future of mixed martial arts. Even with no official cage fights under their belts, the two feel they have already stepped inside the cage.

“I don’t want to say that we haven’t had any fights already because we count our friends’ fights as our fights,” Bunda said. “We’re scouting who they’re fighting and pointing things out. It’s not just them fighting, it’s our whole team fighting.”

Through all of the training so far, Sankey and Bunda have developed a bond for the sport that can never be broken and a friendship that goes beyond cage fighting.

“Me and Ryan,” Sankey said with a playful punch to the arm of Bunda, “we’ll be training partners for life now.”

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Nick LaRosa

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