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Trading leather for mud: Florida politicians face-off in charity MMA event

A conversation over drinks led two Florida Mayors to an MMA bout for charity.


It's become a popular position that Florida is a hotbed for weirdness, whether it be social, criminal, or in this case political. Adding fuel to the Floridian phenomena, two rival Mayors have decided to move their political battles into the cage for a charity event sometime this summer at Milander Auditorium in Hialeah, Florida.

The Miami Herald reports that Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez and Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi were engaged in a friendly dinner (which became friendly drinks) when conversation turned towards which one of them would win in a fight. After a few weeks of mulling the idea over the two men to engage in a posed staredown, and it wasn't long before their alcohol induced argument became a charity focused event.

Pizzi plans to raise money for the Miami Lakes Youth Center opening later this year. He boasted of his youth boxing record from his days at the YMCA in Brooklyn, where he claims to have won 25 straight fights. When asked about his opponent he had this to say:

"Carlos is an athlete into aerobics," Pizzi said. "I'm of the Tank Abbott (and) Roy Nelson school of training, which is have a six-pack of beer, get off a bar stool and knock the guy out in the first three punches." (via MMAjunkie)

“He will last 30 seconds,” boasted Pizzi, 50. “I will knock him out, but I am going to catch him and lay him on the ground so he doesn’t get too badly embarrassed in front of his colleagues.”

For Hernandez's part he's looking to raise money for the Best Buddies charity. He claims to have a long history in the martial arts and trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu regularly.

“I’m going to train as hard as it takes to beat Mayor Pizzi,” he laughed. “And that’s not a lot of training. I might have to pull back to make it a fair fight.”

While much of this may just be Florida doing it's thing, it's worth noting that what would probably have been a charity boxing match 10 years ago is an MMA event today. It's a sign that beyond the Fox broadcasts and major sponsorships, MMA is slowly creeping into the mainstream consciousness. In the mid 90's the idea of a politician engaging in "human-cockfighting," let alone endorsing it, would have been political suicide. It's a weird, but real, marker of progress to see how far the public perception of the sport has come.

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