Pontano’s Club Corner: Rowan’s MMA Club and its Expansion

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The MMA Club at a practice at Rowan's Rec Center. The club practices multiple times a week. - Photo / Alexandria Pontano

The Mixed-Material Arts (MMA) Club here at Rowan University have their doors open to everyone, even those without experience in fighting.

Established in 2013 with only seven members, the club has grown throughout the years as more people have gained interest in mixed martial arts.

Now the club is under the leadership of President Richard “Rick” Belli, who had a unique transition into the role.

“Honestly, it’s kind of a weird experience,” Belli said. “I was [the last person on the E-Board left after COVID hit]. So I was the vice president at the time… so I took over.”

Belli is now trying to keep this club together by conducting well-organized practices. Under his leadership, practices and unity are a strong aspect of this club, allowing people of all disciplines and skill levels.

Freshman Chris Roberts found his way to this club by looking for an outlet to continue his martial arts that he has been doing for about 15 years.  

“When I was researching Rowan, I actually found out that they have an MMA club because I was looking for martial arts clubs,” Roberts said. “I used to do martial arts in my hometown and I want to keep doing that in college… I really like all the team building and things like that. And I’ve definitely learned a lot more about my grappling skills.”

The practices are an hour and a half to two hours long so that members can try different types of skills like grappling, boxing, kickboxing, and more. Sessions are split into different drills so that every member can get the best workout and experience possible. 

In his first semester with the club, sophomore Oliver Ensley found this club to be a part of his life at Rowan after transferring from Camden County College. Through the club, Ensley has been able to take up different types of MMA styles.

“My favorite type of martial arts would probably have to be taekwondo because that’s what I’m a black belt in,” Ensely said. “I like reading a lot about older styles like Okinawan and Japanese style karate, which is where karate originated from.” 

Like some members, Ensley is experienced in martial arts which allows him to help others when needed.

The MMA club is open to members who want each other to get better. This semester they are meeting on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

According to Proflink, the club usually meets at the Rec Center on court one.

“To join there is no experience needed. We take everyone and anyone,” Proflink states. 

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