US Marine, Christian, Wants to Fight in UFC

Marine Sgt. George Lockhart, a martial arts instructor, recently applied for six weeks of leave in order to take part in the filming of a reality series called “The Ultimate Fighter.”

A Military Times article notes that his immediate commander had previously given him approval to try out, and Lockhart won an invitation to participate in the show that allows fighters to compete for a potentially lucrative UFC contract.

While his immediate commander also supported his request for extended leave to film the show, his commanding general ultimately determined that Lockhart’s unit was too busy to allow him the time he would need off.  A Marine spokesman was also concerned about “barbaric” behavior on the show that might reflect negatively on the Marines, though that hasn’t stopped the Marines from using the show for recruiting ads.

Interestingly, Lockhart isn’t known just for his fighting:

A devout Christian who often quotes from the Bible, Lockhart said fighting strengthens his body and his mind. His attitude and work ethic have won the trust and admiration of his commanders, who are in awe of the grueling schedule he keeps and his ability to balance his responsibilities as a Marine with those of a pro fighter determined to make it big.

Ironically, his Christian character may have proven both a mitigating factor to the “barbaric” behavior on the show, as well as a potential advantage:

Lockhart admits the living arrangements in Las Vegas would have been tough, though he is convinced he would not have been tempted by the other guys in the house…

“I see a lot of the guys drinking on the show, and I don’t think they have the discipline that the Marine Corps instills in us to get to their goal,” Lockhart said. “…I’d be like, ‘drink up,’ because that just increases my chances of making it that much further.”

Lockhart’s work ethic and attitude are apparent in his reaction to the Marines’ refusal to allow him to be on the show.  The Marines may yet have an official presence as mentors to the fighters in one episode, and Lockhart expressed hope he might fulfill that role:

“My first job is not a fighter, it’s a Marine. And it’s a Marine martial arts instructor trainer,” he said. “I think it would be awesome if I could go on the show doing what I really do, which is being a leader and mentoring individuals.”

Lockhart has obviously developed an excellent reputation as a Marine, a fighter, and a Christian.  While some might see those lives as mutually exclusive (or even an oxymoron), Lockhart demonstrates that God calls men and women of all stripes to His service–and there are times when He expects Christians to serve Him where they are.  Lockhart is a missionary and ambassador for Christ in a very unique culture; he has made an impact for Christ in this world, and it is evident that he will continue to do so.

For those that are curious, the US military has an interesting relationship with the sports world.  It is not unusual for the military to grant long leaves for athletic training and competitions, and in some cases military members are full time athletes, as was clearly seen in the recent Olympics.  The Olympic athletes are in the military, technically, but their full time job is to be an athletic competitor.  See, for example, the story of US bobsled pilot John Napier:

Napier is part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which essentially means that while he is a soldier — Napier carries the rank of sergeant — he gets to represent the military by being an ambassador through bobsledding.

As the article notes, Napier may yet be deployed to Afghanistan, which is his desire.