Former UFC fighter Nate Quarry returned from a five-year retirement this weekend to fight Jake "The Snake" Beckmann, a 19-year-old high school senior from Newport, Ore., with Down syndrome.
Beckmann took down Quarry with a heel hook in the second round of Saturday's Full Contact Fighting Federation: Rumble at the Roseland fight in Portland, Ore. Afterward, he was awarded the heavyweight championship belt he had pursued for four years as an MMA practitioner.
After the fight, Quarry told KPTV12 in Portland why he granted Beckmann's wish for the fight, which was heavily promoted on the Facebook page of his trainer, Greg Walker.
"Throughout my life, over and over again, I've been given an opportunity to live my dreams. If I can make the slightest effort to help a young man, not only live his dream but also show his mother what it could be like to have him follow in his dreams—and actually, if I can, affect the entire community and let everyone know that special-needs people are people that are just a little different.
"They have dreams, they have goals just like the rest of us, so why should we try to tell them how they can live their lives? If we can break them out of the box, I think that's the right thing to do."
Afterward, Beckmann thanked his supporters on Walker's Facebook page and shared a copy of the autograph card he gave to fans at the fight.
The fight also raised $1,000 for CreateConnection.org, a website created by Beckmann's mother to advocate for "personal empowerment for all people, regardless of diagnosis or physical challenge." A GoFundME.com page has also been set up to raise funds for the site.
- Mike Fiammetta