2nd Cav Regiment ‘Dragoons’ Duke It Out During Unit Fight Night

June 20, 2022Matt White
fight night

Staff Sgt. Joseph Cabrera trades blows with Capt. Connor Wagh in their lightweight bout. Wagh won by submission. US Army photo by Spc. Ryan Parr.

The unofficial motto of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment is “We Kill Tanks,” but about 50 soldiers in the Germany-based unit spent a night last month trying to — more or less — kill each other.

Or at least punch, throw, and choke each other out.

A military photographer captured much of the action as the “Dragoon” soldiers, as the 2nd Cav members call themselves, fought in an Ultimate Fighter-style ring surrounded by fencing in four weight divisions. The event was also broadcast on American Forces Network (video at bottom of this post).

army fight night
First Lt. Trevor Parker, a former wrestler at the US Military Academy at West Point, celebrates winning a bout at Dragoon Fight Night. Fighting as a 210-pound heavyweight, Parker beat an opponent listed at 265 pounds in a semifinal match but lost a decision in the night’s finale to Cpl. Manual Camargo. US Army photo by Spc. Ryan Parr.

The May 24 bouts were the third edition of Dragoon Fight Night, according to the regiment’s Instagram page. The event is the culmination of a regimental training block in Army combatives, a jiujitsu-based fighting system taught widely.

Participants trained for two weeks prior to the event. Spc. David Tilton, the night’s middleweight champion, joked in a ringside interview that he had also prepared for the competition with a diet of “liquor, Slim Jims and cupcakes.”

To participate in the Army fight night, contestants had to be current 2nd Cav soldiers and were required to follow rules based on that training, such as no closed-fist punches, small-joint locks, fishhooks, or other techniques likely to cause injury.

army fight night

The event launched in 2019, when 2nd Cav’s then-Command Sgt. Maj. Michael S. Burke issued a regiment-wide challenge to a soldier to face him. He was met by Sgt. Zachary Morro, an amateur cage fighter who, Burke recalled in an essay on the fight, “was 50 pounds heavier, nearly 20 years younger.”

“After three brutal rounds, Sergeant [Morro] connected with a perfect strike to my upper eye,” Burke recalled. “While the physician assistance superglued my eyebrow back together an unsettling quietness took over the gym.”

First Lt. Monica “Moe Money, Moe Problems” Schmelzenbach, a former judo national champion as a cadet at West Point, was the only woman to compete in Dragoon Fight Night. Schmelzenbach lost a decision after a full 10-minute fight with Spc. Eustacio “Tap Out” Banda. US Army photo by Spc. Ryan Parr.

Army combatives

In an episode of the Kill Tank Radio podcast, Morro recalled landing the strike on the senior NCO.

“It was awesome,” Morro told Kill Tank Radio. “Who else can honestly say they’ve punched a sergeant major in the face and they haven’t come up on charges?”

army fight night

The four champions of the 2022 fight night, held at the Army’s Rose Barracks in Grafenwoehr, Germany, were:

  • Flyweight: Spc. Braxton Barnes (1/2 CR, B Trp)

  • Lightweight: Capt. Connor Wagh (3/2 CR, HHT)

  • Middleweight: Spc. David Tilton (4/2 CR, P Trp)

  • Heavyweight: Cpl. Manual Camargo (1/2 CR, B Trp)

Each winner received an Army Achievement Medal.


Army fight night

army fight night

Full coverage of Dragoon Fight Night 2022, via Armed Forces Network:

Note: Several Dragoon Fight Night images in this story were provided by the Army without identification of the pictured fighters. All photos taken May 24, 2022, at Dragoon Fight Night by Spc. Ryan Parr.

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Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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