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Minnesota National Guard
Train as you fight

SSG Cameron Gilliam CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait- Staff Sgt Cameron Gilliam is constantly moving--before, during and after a fight His opponents usually stand in their corner, maybe move their arms and jump a little bit, but nothing like Gilliam He paces back and forth at about a five-foot space near his corner Only when the referee looks at him to begin the fight does he shuffle his feet After the fight begins, he closes in on his opponent They exchange a few jabs, some landing while others hit air Then Gilliam goes in for a takedown He wrestles his opponent to the ground, focusing more on achieving a good choke position than landing punches His opponent focuses on punching Gilliam wherever his fist can land His opponent tries to stand up, but he'll always land back on the ground Eventually--whether it is one, two or three rounds in--Gilliam submits his opponent when he's most vulnerable

Gilliam, a Woodbury, Minnesota, native and information technologist noncommissioned officer with the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, has been training in mixed martial arts for the past four years at Spartan Martial-Arts in Oakdale, Minnesota Gilliam wrestled at Woodbury high school, but he never planned to start MMA

"I wanted to keep training because I missed wrestling," Gilliam said

He was talked into MMA after his trainers saw his potential, he said Once he started it, he fell in love with it

It is a lifestyle he enjoys, he said He's able to take care of his body and participate in an uncommon sport

Gilliam is well-known in the amateur MMA arena in Minnesota He has a 9-1-0 record according to mixedmartialartscom He has earned an amateur title and has defended it twice

His last fight was April 26, 2014, and he defended his title by submission with a triangle choke in the second round

Gilliam vacated his title when he deployed in June 2014 with the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade At Camp Buehring, Gilliam keeps up with his MMA training He teaches boxing and Brazilian jiujitsu classes for soldiers as well

"The best way to learn something is to teach it," Gilliam said

Gilliam manages the gym and teaches several classes, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sysouk Khotsombath, a network manager for the 34th CAB and Mauy Thai instructor at the gym

"It's a sanctuary that helps [soldiers] get away, reset, think, get rid of frustration, and come back ready to work," Khotsombath said about the gym

Many of the soldiers who train at the gym look up to Gilliam, Khotsombath said

"He's a very humble guy," Khotsombath said "He shares a lot of his wisdom, knowledge, and experience from his time in the ring"

When an opportunity came to compete, Khotsombath encouraged Gilliam and a few other soldiers to take it

The Modern Army Combatives Program tournament was held at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Feb 15, 2015 Soldiers deployed around the Middle East competed

The MACP trains soldiers in close quarters combatives to defeat the enemy in hand-to-hand combat Many of the moves are similar to Brazilian jiujitsu

The competition used the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Association points system, Gilliam said "The buildup until you get to a fight is always a lot of fun," Gilliam said

While waiting for his name to be called for his first bout, he was nervous, Gilliam said He just wanted to get on the mat During the fight the nerves go out the window and his training kicks in His wrestling background was apparent in his bouts As with his MMA fights, after a takedown, Gilliam looks for hooks and sets up his position

Half of Gilliam's MMA fights have been won by submission by either a triangle choke or a rear naked choke

All but one--his championship--of his bouts at the MACP tournament were won by submission He won his championship bout by points, making him undefeated in his weight class at the tournament

Gilliam has a dream of fighting professionally and having his fights on TV one day, he said "My eyes are set," he said "I'd like to go very far with [MMA]"

He is planning on attending a training camp in Thailand when he returns from his deployment, he said He's more than capable of taking his career as far as his body will allow

Safety is a big consideration, Gilliam said His career, along with other MMA fighters, depends on how much his body can physically and mentally handle

"I just think [MMA] is a good thing in general for society," he said "It's not just people beating each other up, it's a sport"

But there are other sports a person can do, he said It's important to learn MMA in a gym if someone does choose to pursue it

March 5, 2015
by Spc Jessica Nemec
34th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

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