Wednesday, March 16, 2011
A new documentary brings Acadiana’s MMA pugilists to the fore. By Anna Purdy
“I grew up watching men who work hard, who party hard. And on Friday or Saturday night, they weren’t scared to fight hard,” goes the voiceover to the opening of the trailer for FIGHTVILLE, a documentary created by husband and wife team Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein (jointly called Pepper & Bones Productions), which premiered March 12 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. While filming their last documentary, How to Fold a Flag, the couple became interested in focusing on Gladiators Academy in Scott when that film’s subject, Mike Goss, fought in Acadiana. They returned, and quickly the focus of Pepper & Bones locked in on one young up-and-coming fighter named Dustin Poirier.
“I first saw Dustin fight at Blackham Coliseum,” says Tucker. “At the time, I knew nothing about the sport of MMA, but that night, when I saw him fight, I knew that he was something special. He has presence, he’s humble and he has a lot of heart.”
MMA, or mixed martial arts, came to the states in 1993 in the form of Ultimate Fighting Championships. Two fighters employing different styles for a bout is an ancient sport, and the start of UFC was no different — the idea was seeing how two fighters would react in a street fight, or a real world situation. Over the years MMA has gained rules (not just for the safety of its fighters but to gain a more public following, as initially it was so brutal most people were turned off), but it remains a full-contact combat sport.
Most cities have unofficial names for certain neighborhoods, and one of Lafayette’s is Fighting Ville (it’s by the train tracks around Simcoe Street). “[O]ne day Dustin Poirier’s mom, Jere, was driving me around town, and she turned to me and said, ‘Now we are entering Fighting Ville,’ and I was stunned by the dumb luck of it all. What other place in the world has a neighborhood famous for fighting?” Tucker says.
Poirier, a native of Lafayette’s northside, became interested in fighting as a teenager. Now 22, he hopes to continue as long as he can, which for MMA fighters is usually their mid-30s. “When I was younger I used to wrestle for a little bit. I’ve always been a competitor, so really when I had a chance to train mixed martial arts it just kind of snowballed from there. I was in the gym every day, non-stop training. I worked boxing but just recreationally.”
Poirier got the chance to train as an MMA fighter at Tim Credeur’s Gladiators Academy in Scott. This sort of training in no way guarantees ever being good enough to do anything other than spar with your fellow fighters at the gym and training every day, but Poirier has evolved to fighting far outside the state. He’s had 19 bouts so far, with the next being in Vancouver in June.
It would be naive to dismiss how this documentary could reinforce inaccurate perceptions of Acadiana: The “raging Cajun” stereotype — three teeth, iron fists and a second-grade education — has been popularized by Hollywood. (Ever see Wilford Brimley doing a Cajun accent in Hard Target?) Yet Tucker insists this film is different. It’s peering over the edge of the water glass and down into an area that, according to him, is “not the city you expect — on the surface, in many ways, it’s like many places in America, but once you dig a little deeper you see a unique way of life and outlook emerge. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a place that embraces life and maybe with that adversity.”
What does all this attention mean to Poirier, a young man who is already a seasoned fighter? “It’s incredible,” he gushes. “It’s a great opportunity for people to see the way I train, the way I prepare for fights, and how seriously I take this sport. Just to have these moments of my life captured on film. ... 20 years from now I show my kids this movie and what I used to do, and how I built an empire for them.”
FIGHTVILLE is currently making the festival rounds, so if you want to see it, you’re going to have to wait a while. “A major deal is in the works,” says Tucker, offering no details. Check our blog for updates.
Potenza Marketing makes fastest-growing companies list.
An abortion rights organization has filed the first court challenge to a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election Friday the same as any other candidate, filling out paperwork and handing over cash to pay his qualifying fee. But he finished it quite differently, doused with ice.
The recent release of Victor White III’s autopsy report could spell trouble, as it tells a much different story of his death than the one told five months ago by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Three-unit modern townhomes or four bedroom traditional home
Men's store now carrying women's clothing
“Candidates for Congress and members of Congress spend between 30 and 70 percent of their time raising money to get back to Congress or to get their party back into power.”
Justin Stelly adds zest to his Saint Street kitchen in this third installment of filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s food documentary series.
Over the last four days of the trial against attorney Daniel Stanford, there’s been one notable absence from Judge Elizabeth Foote’s courtroom: attorney Bill Goode.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Nick Toon are not on the same page yet, and time is running short for Toon to get it right.
U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister started his sign-up for re-election the same as other candidates, filling out paperwork and handing over qualifying money. But he finished it like no other, doused with ice.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Jell-o sales plummet; Hamas kills suspected informers; bodies arrive in Malaysia and more national and international news for Friday, August 22, 2014.
That’s what Lafayette Parish has obtained in Pentagon surplus since 2006.
Qualifying continues through Friday.
Local 101 class Friday
Kimonos and bells and turq galore
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Two bedroom Acadian condo or three bedroom ranch style home
The political tilt of the Senate during President Barack Obama's final two years in office is likely to hinge on a handful of female contenders in tight and costly races.
A former BP executive will be allowed to travel to the United Kingdom later this month while he awaits trial on charges relating to an investigation of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
“Byzantine” is the word members of the nominating committee for the local flood protection authority often use to describe the complicated, multi-layered matrix of qualifications that must be met to fill a vacancy on that board.
Corned beef, melty cheese and rye bread ready for your lunchtime breakaway
Friends and family will celebrate Spider's life in September.
Saints safety Jairus Byrd has rarely been so eager to hit and be hit, if only to reassure himself that his surgically repaired back is as healed as doctors believe.
Jindal privatized nearly all the LSU hospitals without waiting for federal officials to sign off on financing arrangements that rely on millions of federal Medicaid dollars.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her main Republican challenger, Congressman Bill Cassidy, verbally sparred as they officially signed up on the opening day of qualifying for Louisiana's November election.
Superintendent tells crowd he'd just emerged from a four-hour meeting with the attorney hired to investigate him.
A hint of game day glam