Originally created 05/31/97

Ultimate Fight fans come from afar

Scott Medjesky looks like the last person to drive 27 hours to see two guys try to cave in each other's skulls. Not the crew-cut coifed beer-guzzler who springs to mind whenever no-holds-barred fistfights enter the dinner conversation.

The slender, well-spoken 22year-old from Indiana sports a ponytail of lank brown hair with a decorative braid. And instead of a flaming skull, peeking out below his sleeve on a thin white arm is a benignly psychedelic tattoo with pretty colors.

This is a fight fan?

"I've been to every (Ultimate Fighting Championship) event since No. 9," he said.

Ultimate Fighting pits men with backgrounds in karate, wrestling and other aggressive sports to fight in a ring where there are few rules. Its appeal is the violence that has led to the sport being banned in some states.

Mr. Medjesky wears a collection of laminated badges around his neck to support his claims. He and six friends - a motley crew of painters, waiters and at least one hairdresser - drove from Indianapolis for Friday evening's event at Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.

"We actually went to the one in Niagara Falls (N.Y.), but when we got there it was banned," he said.

Undeterred, he and his friends got right back into the car and headed for the alternate site in Birmingham, Ala.

"I like watching the focus of these guys," he said, as a pair of the first alternate fighters prepared for battle. "They really want to be here. The payoff isn't anything like boxing."

His eyes become as intense as the fighters' as their short match plays itself out in swift, brutal fashion.

Local favorite Jack Nilsson sits astride his Iranian opponent's back - one hand yanking on the man's black ponytail, the other delivering bonecrushing blows to the top of his head - until the referee steps in.

Total time elapsed: 1 minute, 22 seconds.

As the referee raises Mr. Nilsson's hand in victory, Mr. Medjesky - nearly as exultant as the winner - offers his sage analysis of what just happened.

"Long hair is always a bad idea," he said.


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