Two Soldiers from 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, finished as runner-up in their respective weight classes July 20-23 at the 2011 All-Army Combatives Tournament at Fort Hood, Texas.
Hanlin Liu lost via unanimous decision to Joseph Sandstrom of Fort Riley, Kan., while Brian Wilson lost via technical knockout to Fort Riley’s Brandon Bear.
Video replay shows Sandstrom applied pressure to Liu with jabs and knees early and often and managed to strike him dozens of times throughout the match.
“The guy was a better wrestler and better striker I couldn’t really take the fight to the ground,” Liu said.
Despite blood spilling on the mat from Liu’s face the last two rounds, he never gave in to a knockout or submission. He managed to tough out the entirety of the three rounds. At the very end of the match, Liu nearly made a roaring comeback that could have resulted in a knockout. However, time expired and allowed Sandstrom to hang on for the win.
“It was the most mentally challenging event of my life,” Liu said. “He outstruck me the first round. In the second round, he broke my nose; blood started gushing out. The doctor asked if I wanted to stop; I said no. I think in the third round he was a little gassed out. I thought I came close (to getting the knockout) in the last 10 seconds.”
Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Wilson’s championship bid was short-lived against a more experienced Bear. The referee called for a technical knockout after Wilson found himself in a defenseless position.
“As the round went through, I got caught in a bad position and he acted on it,” Wilson said. “He was a lot more experienced than me I just went out there and did my best.”
For Wilson, who has three years of high school wrestling experience, it was his first time at the All-Army tournament. He said he was surprised, and encouraged, he made it to the finals. Wilson attributed the achievement to his conditioning and preparation for the tournament. He and the rest of his teammates from 3rd Brigade trained with Monte Massey, a black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu and combatives instructor at Matt Larsen’s Combat Training Fitness Center in Phenix City.
“I try to be more conditioned than the guys I’m fighting against,” Wilson said. “If you have a better gas tank, nine out of 10 times you can beat them. If you fight a guy who is trained to fight the whole six minutes and you’re not, you’re going to run out of energy pretty quick. Conditioning at Monte’s gym definitely won me second place.”
3rd ID finished in third place as a team, behind Fort Riley (second) and III Corps (first). Jeremy Myers finished fourth in the over 206-pound weight class. All three Soldiers are stationed at Fort Benning.