The club trains at the sale barn on Old Sale Barn Road in Cassville but is planning to relocate soon to another location in Cassville. According to Hunter, fighters work out every day with many averaging 20 to 30 hours per week.
Members also cross-train with RWTB, another Cass-ville-based group that also competes in cage fighting events. This allows the members to train with a more diverse offering of students and further broaden their exposure to typical fighting styles encountered in the mixed martial arts arena.
On Fridays, the club trains with Rudy Lindsey, a long-time trainer and professional mixed martial artist. Lindsey coaches the members in the art of Ju Jitsu, a discipline that is especially valuable to cage fighters in grappling situations where striking with hands and feet is limited.
The club typically participates in fights every weekend. Hunter says that they fight in local towns and as far away as St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Rogers, Ark. The fights are open to the public with an average admission price of $25.
Ultimately, Hunter hopes that people in the community will take an interest and come out to see what all of the fighting is really about. While Hunter claims that he does this "for the love of the sport," he also hopes that people will see the value in training and fighting.
One benefit in Hunter's opinion is the teaching of self defense, but he feels that it goes deeper than that.
"There is no hatred or animosity in the ring," says Hunter. "We are teaching kids how to be respectful and what good sportsmanship is."
Over the years many have criticized the sport as being too violent and brutal. Hunter believes otherwise, saying "this is not violent. Violence involves hate."
Furthermore, during the fights, no unsportsmanlike conduct is tolerated. Any such action results in immediate suspension. Hunter believes that everybody, especially children, should watch because they will learn that hatred and fighting do not have to go hand in hand.
Another concern for many people outside of the sport is the possibility of injuries resulting from a fight. At a recent fight, held in Pierce City, Hunter had plenty to say about this subject as well. As a fighter, the first line of defense is training, but there are many rules that are strictly enforced in the cage.
"The use of elbows, foot stomps, head butts and knees to the head are not allowed and will result in the ending of a fight," said Hunter. "Fighters also have the choice of ending a fight if they feel that they cannot continue fighting."
In the time Hunter has been fighting, he recalls seeing only three people go to the hospital. Referee Zane Davidson, the mediator in the ring at the recent Pierce City fight, also offered his comments before the fighting started. Davidson.
"I've seen one person get a cracked bone," said Davidson, who has been a fighter and referee since 1985. "Boxers suffer more damage in one fight than mixed martial arts fighters do after many fights."
Davidson feels that part of the reason for this might be that mixed martial artists spend an average of 80 percent of a typical fight on the ground and only 20 percent of a fight on their feet striking. Davidson claims that during a fight, the swiftness of the referee's judgment is of the utmost importance in terms of the safety of the fighters and he "takes this very seriously."
The crowd at Pierce City, which included fans of all ages, gender and race, seemed thrilled to watch their local fighters do what they love to do. It was not uncommon during the event for audience members to have to stand up in order to see the action as many anxious and excited fans stood to cheer on their favored fighter.
The event showcased 24 fighters in 12 fights, including one bout between two women. The atmosphere was not hostile, and although there were plenty of security members and police officers on hand, there were no problems between spectators or competitors outside of the cage. The level of respect displayed by the fighters seemed very genuine as many shook hands or even hugged each other after their fight was over.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the event was that in the midst of all the action, Hunter was achieving one of his most valued accomplishments.
"We are keeping these young people off the street and providing them with a positive form of recreation," Hunter said. The club founder also shared that he has had more than one parent compliment him on how his club has made a major and very welcome change in their child's life. He admits that even his own father has told him that this was the best thing he could have ever done for himself.
For more information about the Barry County Fight Club, stop by the gym or go see a fight. Fans and new members are always welcome.