UFC Fighters Visit USS Abraham Lincoln
Three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters visited the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), April 17.
Rich “Ace” Franklin, Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine and Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar toured the ship, visited with Sailors, signed autographs for fans and gave a grappling demonstration in the ship’s hangar bay.
“It was awesome,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Recruit Chris Spires. “I’ve watched these guys since I was little, and they inspired me to start training in mixed martial arts (MMA). My buddies would never believe I actually got to meet these guys.”
Shortly after flying aboard, the fighters met with Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9. After a quick briefing, the fighters visited crew members throughout the ship.
“We were more than happy to visit Lincoln, especially because the UFC has always had strong support from service members,” said Franklin.
“It’s great coming out here to the ships because everybody has been serving and working hard for so long,” added Franklin. “If coming out here helps boost the morale, then it’s the least I can do.”
Though the fighters were only on board for a few hours, they managed to make a lasting impression on a few Lincoln Sailors. Airman Richard Gunther said he was excited to have the opportunity to meet some of his heroes.
“The sport is so cool,” said Gunther. “Everyone back home will be very excited when they see the pictures. This is one of the coolest experiences of my time in the Navy.”
Franklin is a former middleweight champion and is the co-creator of the Keep It in the Ring Foundation, a group that advocates nonviolence and character building for American youth. Jardine is a light heavyweight known for victories over Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell. Bonnar, also a light heavyweight, works as a personal trainer.
Lincoln is the flagship for CSG 9, which also includes guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Destroyer Squadron 9, comprised of guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104). CSG 9 and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, embarked aboard Lincoln, are deployed to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support exercises in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Naval Today Staff , April 20, 2012; Image: navy