Fight breaks out in crowd at RFC event

Those who attended the Tampa-based Real Fighting Championship’s “Invasion of the Cage” at the Sun Dome on Saturday got all the fighting they paid for – and then some.

A fight broke out shortly after Rahesh Sharma, 33, of Ocala, accidentally spilled beer on the wife of fellow patron Rafael Milanes, who was sitting behind Sharma. Milanes, 50, demanded an apology, which Sharma quickly proffered.

Beer was spilled and an apology was made – that much can be agreed upon. What happened afterward is a matter of contention.

According to Milanes’ account of the incident, he resumed watching the fight in the cage, only to be struck in the back of the head a few minutes later by Sharma’s friend Jeremy Walker, 28, also of Ocala. Milanes told University Police he turned around to find a combative Walker, and defended himself “after Walker punched him and began to stick his finger into his right eye socket.”

Walker told police it was Milanes who instigated the fight after the beer was spilled, and that in the course of defending Sharma he was “punched in the face, dragged down into the row below and beaten up.”

Sharma’s account was consistent with Walker’s.

The altercation quickly caught the attention of Temple Terrace Police Department officer Manuel Santana, who was on hand as part of a supplementary police presence assembled by UP. As Santana began separating the combatants, Walker – who was “swinging instinctively” out of fear for his well-being, according to Temple Terrace Public Information Officer Michael Dunn – began throwing punches at Santana, who then subdued Walker via Taser.

At that point, UP Sgt. Drew Caffarelli arrived at the scene, where he “heard the sound of a Taser being deployed and saw Walker on the ground (with the) Taser laser dot on his chest.” Walker – who, according to the report, was “belligerent and bleeding about the face” – was then handcuffed and escorted out of the arena, where he “demanded to be allowed to continue the fight either inside or outside the event.”

According to witnesses, after Walker was subdued, the crowd began cheering and clapping. He was treated for a black eye, a bloody nose and various scrapes.

In the course of subduing Walker, Santana also Tasered an unknown individual, speculated by the incident report to be Milanes’ son. Milanes could not be reached to confirm or deny this.

The second Tasering “apparently happened as a result of Milanes’ son getting in the way while Walker was being Tased,” the report stated.

All three were issued trespass warnings for the Sun Dome.

“Due to the nature of the event, neither party was arrested for the affray,” the report stated.

Charges were not filed by either the officer or those involved.

The event, which approximately 3,500 people attended, was the second such at the Sun Dome.

A similar altercation occurred during the first, which took place Nov. 4. Details of the previous incident were unavailable as of 8 p.m. Monday. Another RFC event is planned for June.

According to the league’s Web site, “RFC solely promotes mixed-martial arts (MMA), no-holds-barred fights. MMA demonstrates fighting styles such as kickboxing, grappling, ju-jitsu, judo and many more. No holds barred (NHB) definition is very limited rules. Everything goes except eye gouging, kicking to the head and biting.”

Though the altercation may seem unsurprising given the nature of the event, coordinators were prepared.

According to a Sun Dome employee who wished to remain anonymous, there were 36 unarmed Sentry Security Services officers, 10 officers assembled by UP and belonging to various branches of Florida law enforcement, four medics and an ambulance, as well as a medic crew and ambulance specifically for the RFC fighters.