While all of the fighting and action is happening inside the AFC cage, Sarah Johnston is keeping a close eye from the outside reports the Anchorage Daily News.

Johnston, a 27-year-old single mother and former mortgage broker from Wasilla, took over the Alaska Fighting Championship three years ago. As a woman, she’s an unlikely cage-fighting entrepreneur, but she has grown AFC from a family hobby to a full-time, profitable business that’s drawing national and international attention as well as thousands of local fans. Fighting hooked Johnston about the time she was old enough to crawl on her dad’s lap in front of cable television, she told me later. There was something visceral about it, shocking and addictive all at once.

“Kind of like a train wreck,” she said.

Now that train-wreck kind of fascination pays her bills.

Cage-fighting or mixed martial arts, a hybrid of boxing, wrestling and martial arts, is a new, popular sport with a bloody reputation. Anchorage fights, about once a month, draw as many as 5,500 fans to the Sullivan Arena. By comparison, Thursday night boxing, which has been going on in Anchorage for 20 years, draws 1,200 to 1,500 fans weekly in the winter time to the Egan Center. Cage-fight fans tend to be younger than boxing fans, promoters say, part of a generation that grew up playing Street Fighter on Nintendo.

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