YOKOSUKA, Japan -- The forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) hosted four Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters, May 13. UFC fighters Anthony Njokuani, Todd Duffee, Matt Brown and Kurt Shrout toured the ship's hangar bay, flight deck and navigation bridge learning about shipboard operations and the lifestyle of Sailors stationed aboard.
"The ship is amazing," said Brown, from Columbus, Ohio. "The pictures and video you see on television do not do it justice and the Sailors are awesome. I relate to them because the Sailors are warriors and we are warriors too, so there's a mutual respect."
Sailors were also given the opportunity to receive autographs and meet with the fighters one-on-one. "It's a childhood moment for me," said Culinary Specialist Seaman Jeffery Vaillant, from Bronx, N.Y. "I'm a huge fan of mixed martial arts and having the fighters come out and meet with us has been a great experience."
Armed Forces Entertainment, in collaboration with Morale Welfare and Recreation, arrange visits from celebrities and athletes to provide opportunities for Sailors stationed overseas to meet with positive role models and boost morale.
"Servicemembers are a big part of our support base and it's exciting to meet all of the fans that are involved in the sport," said Duffee, from Raleigh, Ill. "We had the chance to meet with [George Washington Sailors] and they are doing a service for our country that isn't always noticed. It's a great opportunity for us to show our appreciation." The UFC fighters also met with Yokosuka-area Sailors in the evening at the Fleet Activities Yokosuka Fleet Recreation Center to share grappling moves, fighting techniques and their experiences in mixed martial arts.
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that supports and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.