The kid gloves come on

The next generation is growing up with UFC aspirations

Originally Published: December 25, 2012
By Tim Keown | ESPN The Magazine

THE INTENSITY IN the Laguna Hills High School gymnasium is compressed, stifling. It's hard to describe except to say it feels important. The occasion is the 2012 U.S. Open Youth National Pankration Championships, a fighting tournament that allows boys and girls as young as 5 to come as close to participating in full-contact MMA as they can without anyone alerting the authorities.

The room runs on swagger. The young competitors, many of them with mouthpieces slung ...

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