Fighting Spirit

Not all of the hard-hitting stories from UFC 141 played out in the octagon.

UFC champions Junior dos Santos and Dominick Cruz, heavyweight Travis Browne and Las Vegas fighters Frank Mir and Roy Nelson spent the afternoon of Dec. 27 hanging out with nearly a dozen local youngsters who are battling cancer. The fighters and kids shared lunch in the Ultimate Fighter gym before spending a little time hitting heavy bags and learning a few MMA techniques—although the majority of the afternoon saw dos Santos and Browne on the constant defensive as the energetic group of young attackers proved to be worthy opponents.

“As martial artists competing in the cage, I think we are kind of like live action heroes to some of these kids, but ones who are also human beings who go through adversity, wins and losses, and ups and downs,” said former UFC champ Mir, who has four children of his own.

“Hopefully we can convey a message to these children in their everyday struggles that a lot of people in this world battle with adversity each day. Not every day is going to be a good day, but that doesn’t mean the next day can’t be great.”

The meetup was a joint effort between the UFC’s community relations department and the It Ain’t Chemo organization. Founded by Las Vegas firefighter and cancer survivor Kevin Hoyt, It Ain’t Chemo helps local and national children and young adults in everything from simply supplying them with a warm blanket for a chemo session to serious heart-to-heart talks about dealing with the fear of death.

“Opportunities like this with the UFC don’t happen to just anybody, so we’re really excited to be a part of it,” said Candice Fissers, whose 7-year-old son, Nicholas, has Stage 4 neuroblastoma. “Days like today really help keep your mind off what’s going on, and not just for the kids.”