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A.J. arrived at the sight of Rania's gigantic 2nd tournament, which attracted all sorts of allcomers: the perfect opportunity for A.J. to test her skills, and maybe make a bigger name for herself. She had applied for the first one, wrestling only, but unfortunately failed to make the cut in a popularity poll: losing out to other fighters and the fellow boxing idol that's caught her eye recently, one Hoshiko Saitou. Well, this time, she wouldn't have to worry about that. If that ever happened again, surely this tournament could get her into the eye of the public! And on top of that, it's in HER sport! Or so she thought.
"W-wait, it's MMA if I'm fighting with a wrestler?" A.J. asked Rania while sweating profusely.
"Eeeeyup!" Rania said, happily.
"...howwwwwisthatfair?!" A.J. asked in a squeak. "I didn't train for this! I'm a boxer! And hardly a good one!"
Rania giggled. "Honey. Sweetie. Darling." she said, putting a hand on the tall idol girl. "Number one, why would you enter my first wrestling tournament if you weren't prepared to try something different."
"And number two, MMA is basically like boxing and wrestling combined! Just hit whoever you're fighting until they fall down and try not to get choked out or anything! And now you can even knee and kick people! Besides, it's not like it's very fair if we put a wrestler in a boxing match, either."
A.J. quietly processed this, thinking it over, more to gain some confidence than anything else. They were Rania's rules, her reasons were justifiable, and she was the one who ran into this headfirst without thinking. "...no, you're right. Okay, I promise do my best."
"'atta girl!" Rania said, clapping. "Now, you're going to be fighting Eagle, Nez, aaaand me."
"Because I wanna choke you until you're close to death." Rania said, shrugging. A.J. pouted at her, causing her to clarify. "It's randomly-seeded. Did you read ANYTHING beyond 'SIGN HERE'? Anyways, do me a favor: try and manhandle that Eagle guy good. I could use the catharsis of seeing that guy beaten to a bloody pulp considering how much trouble he's been trying to cause me."
"S-sure. I'd be...happy to?" A.J. responded, unsure if she actually wanted to beat someone into a bloody pulp.
The night arrived, the lights were on, and OH SWEET CHILD was this guy bigger than A.J. was expecting. She had heard about his conflicts and fury over Rania building on his people's land. She sympathized with him, and honestly hoped for his success in stopping the wealthy head of the tournament, but she wasn't about to get pummeled by this actual mastodon standing over her.
"U-um...hello, Mr...Eagle! Let's have a good match, okay?" she offered, her hand shaking. He merely stared at her in silence, before she lowered her hand in submission to his inappropriate manners. Obviously, he didn’t care much for anyone else here, and budding musician or not, she was no exception.
The fight was an interesting one, and actually seemed to keep the crowd on their feet. A.J. kept moving and punching, avoiding Eagle’s impossibly slow strikes. While her hands weren’t exactly hurting from punching him like she assumed at first glance, they certainly didn’t seem to be staggering him any. It was merely a battle of attrition, and Eagle certainly had plenty of that.
The first round went okay, as A.J. discovered just how fighting him was going to work. She had been hit with one strike, and her soft body nearly crumbled, but she was far from done. She had landed a lot of hits in rapid succession, and as far as the crowd knew at the time, she was going to knock Eagle out at any minute! But to their surprise, she did not, and the second round came soon after with little fanfare.
Her confidence was still high, and Eagle’s…was…probably the same? Not much had changed—Eagle landed one strike, A.J. landed many—at least until the last 30 seconds. Leaning under a giant swing, feeling the air of the punch on her face, she used her somewhat-rusty MMA ability to knee Eagle in his chiseled abdomen, before soaring up towards his chin for an uppercut. The Native American stumbled backwards, his empty eyes looking somehow even more empty, A.J.’s smile getting large as she might’ve finally toppled the giant oak tree of a man…
He fell to one knee. The referee prepared to walk over, but Eagle took one glance at him, shaking his head. He then turned his attention to A.J., gritting his teeth in a sudden scowl as he rose up once more. THAT was a new expression for him, considering that he was giving her a whole lot of…well, nothing, earlier. A.J. knew that wasn’t good. She went right back to work, though, and despite landing a punch on his chin, she got one right back. She went stumbling to the ends of the ring, but unlike Eagle, she didn’t fall. The round ended soon after. A.J. was shaken from the strike and the scowl: physically for the former, mentally for the latter.
The 3rd round came, and it became more obvious that Eagle’s true potential would be unleashed. He began to pick up the pace in his attacks, leaving A.J. on the defense for the first time in the entire fight.
The Native American colossus had her dancing all over the place, and A.J.’s anxiety rose as she just barely avoided him punching a hole through her chest. The audience was even more excited now, and despite originally booing Eagle in favor of the idol, they had started to warm up to him after this sudden display.
But A.J. still had a chance to win back the attention, to pull off some form of victory, at least until she heard a soft voice whisper:
She gasped in surprise, knowing that the voice was Eagle’s and vaguely seeing his lip move from the corner of her eye. And before she knew it—
Her forehead was impacted with a hefty closed fist—
Her chin, too, but this time by a foot—
And finally, her stomach. Her vision was already altered by the first strike, but the final one made things seem like an unending blurry field. As spit flew out of her mouth and continued to pool, A.J. shakily touched Eagle’s chest, the man keeping his fist sunken in.
“Y-you…” was the only thing A.J. was able to utter before Eagle removed his glove from her body, causing her to quickly fall onto her knees—blackness being the next thing she saw.
Moments later, to the roar of the crowd, A.J. woke up.
“Hey, are you alright?” the referee asked politely. “Can you stand?”
“O-oh…yes.” A.J. responded, knowing exactly what had happened once her brain started to churn out the events of the last 10 minutes back to her.
It took her a moment, but she got up, and was led by the hand to the center of the ring, where the referee was the only thing that stood between her and the person she lost to.
“The winner of this match, by knockout in the 3rd round: EAGLE!”
The crowd cheered approvingly, maybe a little too loud for A.J.’s tastes after she had just woken up from a defeat. She then sighed, wondering if she had just lost some popularity to what appeared to be a simple man of nature. Oh well, at least he can get Rania to move off of his land, she figured.
The referee left, and Eagle just as suddenly began to leave.
“U-um, good fight!” A.J. offered.
Eagle stopped, and turned around.
A silence filled the short distance between the two of them, the crowd still chattering post-fight, only for the Native American to nod and continue moving.
A.J. had no idea if that meant he agreed, or if he just approved of something she did, or if it was some sort of weird sign of disrespect or WHAT, but that was as much as she was going to get out of him, so she took it.
Now then, despite her aching stomach, she had to plan ahead for Nez and Rania. At least she wasn’t out of the tournament yet!