(Ultimate) fighting for a cause

UFC Champion Jens Pulver will be one of three headliners appearing at the Allies, Inc. fundraiser next week.By Jess Decina

When thinking about the popular Trenton nightclub KatManDu, images of mixed drinks, loud music and that strange guy with the bad dance moves might come to mind.

What one doesn’t think of right away, though, is a fundraising event. But that’s exactly what will be happening at KatManDu next week when the nonprofit organization Allies, Inc., hosts a meet-and-greet night featuring mixed martial arts fighter Jens Pulver. Two other wrestling stars, Frank Edgar and Steve Rivera, will also be appearing.

“It’s an eclectic mix of featured guests that are coming together to raise not only money but awareness for people with disabilities,” said Mike Cestero, a transition counselor for Allies, Inc., the organization that will benefit.

Pulver, who has been featured on Spike TV’s reality series Ultimate Fighter, gained fame after becoming the first competitor to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight division. This will likely be Pulver’s last public appearance in the Mercer County area, as he will be gearing up for a huge match against Cub Swanson, a top contender, taking place on Dec. 12, Cestero said.

“This is his comeback match,” he said. “If he wins this fight, he will probably get a title shot. He’s almost 33 and it’s very unlikely at that age. It can be done, and he has the talent, but it’s tougher.”

But the sport isn’t all about throwing punches to get to the top, Cestero said.

“Mixed martial arts is a compilation of the various martial arts,” he said. “It’s a hybrid of all the sports. You have to be extremely disciplined.”

Cestero hopes that the event will not only benefit Allies, Inc., but also clear away any pre-conceived notions about mixed martial arts athletes.

“Part of the reason why we reached out to the mixed martial arts community [is] because there is this perception that these guys are uneducated guys who beat each other’s brains out,” he said. “These guys are not only highly trained, world-class athletes, but they’re also a good bunch of guys.”

The event’s admission fees — $20 for adults, $10 with a college I.D. — will all be donated to Allies, Inc. The organization serves more than 1,500 N.J. residents with disabilities, providing them with housing, jobs and protection, according to Cestero.

“We support them in a variety of capacities,” he said.

That’s terrific news for Ultimate Fighter fans and those who want to support a good cause. But what about the rest of the college student population?

Cestero has an answer to that, though he admits it’s not a popular one.

“In 2006, a national study came out that said, ‘College-aged kids cared more about partying than they cared about giving back to the communities in which they live and work,’” Cestero said. “Here’s your chance to prove them wrong.”

The Allies, Inc., fundraiser will take place Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased and donations can be made by calling (609) 509-1065.

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