Mark Bunkley lost his Muay Thai match against Alfonso Espinoza, Friday, October 28. This was the co-main event at Real MMA XII, hosted by Sam’s Town Live!

Bunkley lost when referees and the ringside doctor called the bought due to a deep cut over his right eye. For a split second, he turned his head away from Espinoza, who was on top of his game and took that opportunity for a well-placed kick to Bunkley’s face. This was the kick that ended the fight.

Before the match ended, Bunkley was working his ground game hard and his opponent’s defensive moves were a welcomed challenge. They were well-matched.

In an interview and on Facebook, Bunkley said, “There is no greater adrenaline rush than stepping into the ring.” On October 28, he was ready mentally and physically. He was also home, having grown up down the street from Sam’s Town Live, the excitement was even greater for him. Stationed in San Antonio, Texas, he had not been in Las Vegas since Christmas.

This fight would allow him to showcase his MMA talent for family and friends he had not seen in years. Their presence added to his excitement and disappointment when the fight was called. Bunkley did not realize how deeply his eye had been split and his adrenaline was still pumping, so he wanted back in the octagon.

He was following his game plan and the match was going well for him. Espinoza was strong and could reverse Bunkley’s mounts and challenge him in a way he appreciated, respected and acknowledged. He expressed that what he loves about MMA is that anything can happen; fights are not predictable.

Bunkley is happy for Espinoza’s win. He is proud of his own fighting in the octagon and admits to mistakes. However, the match went the way it did for a reason. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Mixed martial arts is about respect, giving your all, and leaving it all in the ring.” Bunkley said he does not harbor any hard feelings toward his opponent and hopes Espinoza has the same attitude.

He has been an MMA fighter for two years, focusing on Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, and boxing. The reason this was only his second match is because he is Active Duty Air Force. It is unusual for the military to allow servicemen and women to participate in activities that could cause them injury, outside of their prevue. Bunkley said he was fortunate to have a combat commander that is supportive of his MMA endeavors. His commander believes it will make him stronger and better for his job.

Bunkley trains boot camp graduates for the Air Force Tactical Air Control Party, Combat Controllers, and the Special Operations Weather Team. These are the Air Force elite; only 25 percent of the class graduates into one of these groups. However, it is the commitment Bunkley holds that prevents him from scheduling fights.

Nothing is going to keep me down. With losing comes learning. With learning comes growth to get better. I can’t wait to showcase the art again!

By Jeanette Smith