MMA legend Anderson Silva headed for Somerset


From left, East West Karate owner Jeff Turner, UFC legend Anderson Silva and Killer Bees Jiu-Jitsu founder Israel Gomes pose for a picture after training in Melbourne, Florida. Silva will be conducting seminars here in Somerset this weekend.

It's extremely rare for a world-wide legend to take part in a local, small-town event.

But Jeff and Evva Turner of East West Karate have pulled it off.

Retired Mixed Martial Arts megastar Anderson "The Spider" Silva — the man who held the Ultimate Fighting Championship's middleweight crown for over six years — will make his way to Somerset next weekend to meet fans and hold seminars for MMA enthusiasts.

If you're not up on MMA, this is sort of like having Babe Ruth do your baseball camp or Joe Montana teach you how to throw a football.

"This is obviously a big deal for our school and a big deal for area MMA fans," said Jeff Turner, who has East West Karate gyms in Somerset, London and Monticello. "We're very excited to have Anderson here."

Silva, who was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 44 years ago, saw his career take off when he signed with UFC in 2006. Within a year, he won the middleweight title by knocking out Cincinnati fighting legend Rich Franklin in the very first round.

Silva won an unprecedented 17 straight UFC fights over a six-year span and made 10 defenses of his crown. Along the way, Silva bested such hall of fame-caliber fighters as Forrest Griffin, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort and Stephan Bonnar.

Silva lost his crown in July 2016 when Chris Weidman recorded a stunning second-round KO. In the rematch, Silva broke his leg in one of the most grotesque sports injuries of all time.

"I think at the height of his career, Anderson might've been the best MMA fighter ever," Turner said. "He was certainly the most dominant champion in UFC history. There were fights during his reign where he made it look easy."

Silva will join local MMA fans this Friday night at Somerset Christian School for a meet and greet dinner beginning at 7:30 p.m. The cost of the dinner is $40 per ticket.

Then on Saturday at the Somerset Christian School gym, Silva will conduct three seminars — at 9 a.m, he will demonstrate Muay Thai kickboxing technique; at 10:30 p.m., the focus will shift to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; and at noon, Silva will hold a MMA seminar meshing all the disciplines.

The cost to participate in the seminars is $100 for East West Karate members and $175 for non-members. If you just want to catch a glimpse of Silva training local fighters, admission is $20. Spectators are welcome to take photos during the seminars, but no videotaping is permitted.

Seminars are open for ages 7 and up, and children and adults will be on separate mats.

"We will also have photo sessions both Friday and Saturday if you want to have your picture taken with Anderson," Turner said. "(Local photographer) Angela Vaught will be doing 8 x 10 photos for $39."

The event will conclude with a tag team combat grappling tournament on Saturday.

So how did East West Karate score a MMA legend for its event?

East West is affiliated with the American Killer Bees, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu organization which was founded by Silva and Israel Gomes. Gomes trained Silva when he was younger, and is Turner's Jiu-Jitsu professor.

"I've had the opportunity to train with Anderson in Florida, at Israel Gomes' gym," Turner said. "Israel was Anderson's boxing coach. So that connection got Anderson Silva to come to Somerset."

This is Silva's first trip to Kentucky — although he defended his title up the road in Cincinnati, defeating Franklin in a 2007 rematch.

"Anderson seems excited to visit and we have gotten tremendous response on the event," Turner said. "We expect to have 100 or more participants for the seminars."

For more information on Friday's dinner and Saturday's seminars and tournament, contact East West Karate at 606-679-3355.

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