Clements preparing for Ultimate challenge

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 18, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / December 18, 1999

LAPLACE – Growing up, Lance Clements always wanted to be a Marine and a police officer. Having accomplished both of those goals, Clements has anew goal – to be an Ultimate Fighting champion.

Clements, who fights in the heavyweight division of the highest classification of the sport, no-holds barred, got into the sport after running into Raymond Totorico at Shannon’s Health and Fitness Center in LaPlace where he is a night manager. Totorico had been involved in thesport for years, compiling a 59-5-3 record, and was looking to teach others about it.

Clements, who has a martial arts background as well as wrestling in high and serving as an assistant wrestling coach at East St. John High School,had watched Ultimate Fighting on television and thought it might be something he would like to try.

“I thought I had what it took,” Clements said. “I had served in the MarineCorps and as a police officer (including working with the St. John ParishSheriff’s Department). Ray gave me an opportunity and I ran with it.”Ultimate Fighting, also known as free-form combat, reality combat or mixed martial arts, has only been around since 1993 but its popularity has been growing. Clements said many people associate Ultimate Fighting withpro wrestling but that is a wrong impression.

“This is not fake,” Clements said. “There is nothing scripted. It is the realdeal. We are guys going at it.”Matches are fought in cages. Depending on fight arrangements, matchescan be two eight-minute rounds with a 30-second break and a three- minute overtime; two 12-minute rounds with a 30-second break and three minute overtime; or no time-limit with combatants going down until one submits or is knocked out.

Clements admits that the sport has a negative reputation amongst a lot of the general public because of its perceived violence. The sport is banned inmany states but is legal in Louisiana. Clements noted that sports likeboxing and football have the same reputation and that the one thing that is not true is the reputation that the combatants in his sport go around snarling outside the ring.

“The perception is that we are two pit bulls trying to kill each other but that is not true,” Clements said. “Amongst the fighters themselves, thereis a lot of respect. Nine out of 10 times, win, lose or draw, once the fightis over, the fighters hug, shake hands and talk afterwards. Most are nice,humble guys.

“The fighters are going at it willingly. They are being given theopportunity to practice skills they have trained so hard for. Nobody forcesthem. Guys can get seriously hurt but they accept that. Every fightermakes his own decision. I don’t agree with the small groups that say thatthere is a need to ban the sport.”Clements noted that there are safety nets built into the rules of the sport.

There is a referee in the ring and a fighter’s cornermen can stop a fight at anytime if they see he has taken too much.

“My hat goes off to the referees in the sport because of the type of fighting,” Clements said. “They don’t want to stop the fight too soon butthey also don’t want to let it go too far. The cornermen also have to have awhite towel. If a fighter is taking too much of a beating, the cornermenare there to throw in the towel. It’s just another additional safety net.”Clements has fought one match so far, taking it the distance but losing in a judge’s decision. He has two more matches scheduled, Dec. 21 at Omega’sin Gretna and Jan. 28 at Nocello’s in Metairie. A third match is innegotiations for February.

Clements fights under the name, “The Terminator.” Taking a line from thatmovie, Clements said. “You might beat me tonight but watch your backbecause I’m coming after you tomorrow.”Clements competes for Global Sports Entertainment under Carl Schmitt and Chad Robichaux. He has picked up a number of sponsors along the way,including Shannon’s Health and Fitness Center, Jacob’s Andouille and RJ’s Lounge. He is looking for more sponsors so that he can make it a full-timeoccupation and dedicate 100 percent to the sport. His ultimate goal is towithin five years challenge for the Ultimate Fighting championship.

Anyone wishing to sponsor Clements can contact him at 536-7500 or 651- 6005 or Totorico at 251-3479.

Clements said a lot of training goes into preparing for a match. He trainstwo to three hours a day five or six days a week. That training increasesas he gets closer to a match. In addition to weight training, Clements doesa lot of running and working on the bag.

Helping him in his training is his team – Totorico, his instructor; Brant Gaudet, an old friend who serves as a cornerman and sparring partner; Lawrence Brenner, his cornerman and medical technician; Dr. Cesar Rocca,who has come on as a cornerman and fight doctor; and fellow fighters Aristides Brito and Jay and John Accardo.

Also helping him is the support he has gained from the community.

Clements said he has gained a following from RJ’s Lounge as well as the St. Tammany and St. John Parish sheriff’s offices.”I’m really honored by that support,” Clements said. “My thanks to all ofthem. They really made me feel good.”Also offering support is his wife, Natasha, and his five children – Heather, Lance Jr., David, Michael and Hayden.”They are the lights of my life,” Clements said.

And it is for them, that Clements is working so hard for.

“My dad was a Marine for 32 years,” Clements said. “I always looked up tohim. I want my kids to be proud of me. I hope at one point, my kids can lookback and say that ‘My daddy was one of the best fighters in the world.'”Clements and Totorico are planning changes to help improve the sport.

They are also planning on bringing matches to the River Parishes.

“The people of the River Parishes can look forward to having matches here and finding out what it is all about.”

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