Seven seconds later

By Gus Bode

After Natu Visinia’s opponent swung the first punch, Visinia knew the fight wouldn’t last long. Seven seconds later, Visinia won.

Visinia was the winner of the main event Saturday in Carbondale’s first mixed martial arts competition. Visinia’s road has taken him from a tough past to playing football for the Salukis to becoming a professional fighter.

Visinia’s fight over the weekend ended in 15 seconds – one kick, five punches and a knee to the head. His opponent, Glen Miller, left the seven-sided cage with a broken rib, after the referee stopped the fight.


Miller acknowledged Visinia’s strength after the fight, but said he has experienced harder hits in prior bouts.

“The punches didn’t hurt me at all,” Miller said. “Believe it or not, I’ve been hit harder.”

It won’t be the last time Miller gets in the ring. He wants a rematch.

Visinia said he would give Miller the opportunity.

“I want a rematch with everyone I’ve fought,” he said. ” I’ll fight anybody, anytime. That’s the way I am.”

He also said the first kick that broke Miller’s rib was only a warning shot.

“After the fight, I could hear him struggle to breathe,” Visinia said. “I was kind of worried about him. I don’t ever want to hurt anybody.”


Visinia won despite the uncertainty of his health before the fight. For two weeks, Visinia had a cold, And he fought with a slight fever.

Visinia’s fighting record stands at 7-1.

Now that he has another win under his belt, he will become a professional – he will get paid to fight. His first professional fight is scheduled for Nov. 17 in Chicago. His next fight could come before that.

“I’m a fighter. I’ll come in three days notice, two days notice, 24-hour notice,” he said. “I’ll be in the ring.”

From football to fighting

On the walls of Visinia’s home hang old football pictures – a visual reminder of what he used to be.

The former offensive lineman weighed more than 300 pounds. His coaches and teammates said Visinia had the talent to be a great player.

In 2005, he quit playing football for the Salukis because he said the sport wasn’t for him.

Head football coach Jerry Kill said Visinia was a physical offensive lineman.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Natu, he’s a very physical, tough guy,” Kill said. “And he probably fits what he’s doing.”

Football helped Visinia with personal problems he faced when he was a freshman.

In 2005, Visinia was charged with battery after an altercation at a bar on Carbondale’s Strip. He said he fought a friend because of a petty argument, but it was broken up before anyone got hurt.

Visinia said when he came to SIU, he thought he was tougher than everyone. His upbringing in a rough East Los Angeles neighborhood left him with that mentality.

Visinia said the battery charge was not the reason he left the SIU football team the same year. He left because mixed martial arts was his calling.

The love of the sport

Visinia isn’t the only one flocking to the cage to fight.

Evan Darger, an SIUC senior from Crystal Lake studying history, participated in his first fight in Carbondale. He was the only other student, aside from Visinia, to fight.

“Mixed martial arts is growing in popularity. It’s the fastest growing sport in America,” he said. “The time to get in is now.”

Darger left the fight on a stretcher because he had a fractured nose and a mild concussion. His opponent outweighed him by more than 15 pounds.

While the fighters showed up to the fight, so did the audience.

The event at Carbondale’s Sports Blast had a near-sellout crowd. More than 800 people attended to watch the fighters.

Many began to chant “Natu, Natu” when Visinia’s fight started.

It may have helped, as the 23-year-old knocked out yet another opponent. Actually, every opponent who Visinia has fought has been knocked out.

Except one.

Brandon Reinbold, a 31-year-old doctoral student studying pharmacology at Kansas State University, was the only fighter to win a fight against Visinia. He won with an arm bar submission.

Reinbold didn’t leave the cage the way he went in – he exited with a broken nose and a few broken ribs.

He said the win was a bit of a surprise because of Visinia’s knockout reputation, but was satisfied with the victory.

“They’re the ones who challenged me to fight,” he said. “And I think they got a little more than they bargained for.”

Visinia said he was a bit upset after the fight. He said the referee stopped the fight numerous times. One time when the referee stopped it, Visinia thought he won the match.

While Visinia lost the battle, Reinbold said he was good competition.

Miller, who was taken to the hospital Saturday after his fight with Visinia, said the same.

“He’s a good fighter,” Miller said. “He didn’t let up at all, and that’s what I expected of him.”

Daily Egyptian reporter Alejandro Gonzalez can be reached at 618-536-3311 ext. 273 or [email protected].