Craig Reishus' mother Susan couldn't look at the ring Friday night at Marlintini's Lounge during the showcase bout. She couldn't listen to the sounds of muscle-laden kicks and punches impacting bare skin.
Instead, Susan Reishus-O'Brien, watched the action on large screen TV's placed around the ring and saw her son destroy one of Southeast Alaska's top fighters in a mixed martial arts bout.
"I am terrified," Reishus-O'Brien said. "I am happy, relieved, and terrified. But it is what he wants to do."
And Craig Reishus, a 2005 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate studying business management at the University of Alaska Anchorage, did just what he wanted against the '06 lightweight and '08 middleweight Southeast Showdown Champion Tyson Duckworth from Ketchikan.
"I studied some Muay Thai fighting in Thailand," said the 150-pound Reishus, 23, who won by decision. "I felt in control the whole way."
Reishus (6-1) led off at the opening bell with a round kick to Duckworth's (35-7-1) side leaving a red imprint. Duckworth, 30, 155 pounds, followed with a straight kick to the midsection that Reishus caught and held to move into a grappling stance. The two exchanged knees and kicks until Reishus ended the round on top of Duckworth in the corner.
"I am more of a stand-up fighter," Reishus said. "But I have some background in youth wrestling."
Reishus looked boyishly lean next to the muscled physique of Duckworth as the two touched gloves for the second round. Yet the experience of MMA appeared to belong to Reishus as he blocked kicks and punches and frustrated an angry reigning champion. Reishus rode Duckworth twice onto the mat and would have brought him down for a third time if Duckworth hadn't held onto the ropes, a move that drew a chorus of boos form those in attendance.
"I train every day," Reishus said. "This is what I want to do."
Duckworth came out for round three refreshed. Unable to connect solidly on Reishus however, Duckworth instead landed a low kick that went uncalled. Reishus responded with a solid Tae Pub Nai, a kick to the inside of the knee that put Duckworth off balance. Grappling on the mat, Reishus began to choke out Duckworth. The bell saved Duckworth from a tap out and he received another round of boos as he threw a dirty punch in frustration as the two fighters rose after time expired.
Reishus' father, Juneau police officer Karl, died in a training accident in 1992. Reishus brought his mother into the ring for the ref's decision.
"I told her I am having fun and this is what I like to do," Reishus said. "This is the first time she has seen me fight. As for my father, he passed when I was young but he was a great man, I respected what he did."
Roughhouse Friday fans will get to respect one of the most gifted MMA fighters Marlintini's has seen as Reishus is returning for the Dec. 10 bouts.
Possibly the second biggest fight of the year will also unfold then as Juneau's tough-as-nails female boxer Selena Slack (8-1) will meet a surprise opponent from Anchorage.
"It is really hard for the girls here to find fights," said Slack, who trains two hours a day, five times a week. "There are just not a lot of women fighters here."
Slack was brought to the center of the mat Friday night and told of the bout.
The undercard was heavy on MMA bouts. Hoonah's Charlie Gallant (43-4), 21, 198 pounds, forced Sitka miner Kelly Ferguson Jr. (0-1), 26, 185 pounds, to tap out with a reverse choke hold in the first round.
Gallant also scored a one-point win in a later bout over Pennsylvania's Stephen Harrison (0-1), 43, 174 pounds. The three-rounds of testosterone-fueled action featured stand up kicking by both fighters with little grappling.
Juneau's Aaron "The Red Baron" Tucker (13-5), 21, 158 pounds, seemed perplexed against Puerto Rico's smaller, stockier TSA worker Eduardo "Devil Dog" Rivera (0-1), 27, 163 pounds. After an even first round that saw SE Showdown lightweight champ Tucker's punch ignite Rivera into a brawling grapple on the mat, Tucker forced his own security check on Rivera with a bare naked choke 52 seconds into round two for the win.
California's national guardsman Gerardo Lopez (1-1), 21, 218 pounds, made up for a disappointing debut last month by dismantling Idaho's first timer Aaron Sonesen (0-1), 21, 213 pounds, in the nights only boxing match. Lopez carried all three rounds for the win.
"I found out I wasn't jabbing enough last time," Lopez said. "The adrenaline picks up when you punch more. Now I am just going to train a lot. There is always someone out there training so I want to be ready."
Sitka's Sea Dog Fisheries technician Noah Mayo (2-0), 31, 202 pounds, used ground control to stop the debut of Hoonah's Lyle Coutlee (0-1), 22, 207 pounds, in a three round decision.
"I tried to jab a few times," said Mayo. "But honestly I just wanted to take him to the ground."
Contact Klas Stolpe at email@example.com.