Reserve recruiting packs a punch at Mixed Martial Arts event

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Bobby Pilch
  • 367th Recruiting Group, Air Force Reserve Command

In front of a nearly sold-out arena of more than 1,000 energized mixed martial arts fans and thousands more watching at home, Air Force Reserve recruiters and senior leaders flexed their muscles to promote the Reserve and welcome new recruits into the “Blue” at the Overtime Elite Arena here June 23.

Shortly after the preliminary bouts, several future Airmen took to the main stage in front of the passionate crowd and ESPN audience as their family and friends were escorted ringside to witness them taking their oath of enlistment. 

“I have never been in the spotlight,” said Jalen Wright, a Reserve delayed entry program recruit who lives in Atlanta and will have a role in aviation resource management at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, after completing basic training and technical school. “It was surreal standing up on the stage, but I really enjoy being around all of these people and experiencing something new.” 

Opportunities like this would not be possible without a dedicated partnership between the Reserve and the Professional Fighters League.

“This is the first PFL event where we actually performed a delayed entry program swearing-in ceremony, and it’s a first for the PFL as well,” said Master Sgt. Sam Wilson, a national events program manager for the Reserve Component with Air Force Recruiting Service. “They have allowed us to step outside the box with marketing and engagement opportunities as they grow within the MMA sport, not to mention the diversity that this sport brings to the table. Just by looking around the arena, you’ll see fans and competitors from across the globe.” 

This marks the fourth year of the marketing partnership between the Reserve and the PFL, providing a strategic opportunity for the service to highlight the character traits it looks for in its recruits in front of a highly valued audience.

“In order to compete in this sport, you have to be completely dedicated,” said Brig. Gen. Lisa M. Craig, deputy commander of Air Force Recruiting Service. “You have to be physically and mentally fit – attributes we are looking for in future Airmen and leaders.

“Additionally, the energy is overwhelming and the respect in the sport for our service just makes this partnership even better. Not only from the PFL, but from the fans showing just how much they value service and how open they are to our team. It has been astounding to witness and be a part of.”

“The Professional Fighters League is extremely proud of our four-year partnership with Air Force Reserve.” said Casey Lang, Global Partnerships Manager at PFL. “We are dedicated to supporting our military service members and veterans and look forward to hosting them here throughout fight week and at OTE Arena.”

The PFL has more than 600 million fans worldwide and its competitions are broadcast and streamed to 140 countries with 25 international leading media partners.

To learn more about opportunities within the Air Force Reserve, visit or download the AIM HIGH app to engage with a recruiter near you.