Come On, Hit Me … Hit Me Again …

When It’s Okay to Start Swinging

By Jordan Terrell

With a cobra cane as a crutch, Joe Miller, owner of Vision MMA Dayton, paces around the worn mats giving advice on punching techniques as Travis Thaxton and Mike Powell spar.

Vision Dayton, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym, is currently under transformation. The gym moved from Pierce Street in Dayton to Kauffman Avenue in Fairborn. Miller is looking forward to creating a bigger gym with new mats, punching bags with costume racks, weights and a ring. “I can’t wait to get new mats,” says Miller as he pushes them back together with his cane.

The gym has coaches in a variety of martial arts practices. Paul Burns will be coaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Daryl Phelps, 60, who has 44 years of experience in Golden Glove championships, will be coaching stand up techniques and boxing alongside Tony Revels and Mohammad Abdullah. Allan Dogels, with 11 years of experience, will be instructing wrestling.  Kyle Lingg will be coaching Muai Thai, with a professional record of 11-0 in amateur divisions and 3-0 in professional divisions.

Miller welcomes people who don’t want to fight but either want to stay healthy or learn self-defense. In the future he wants to train women’s self-defense courses, cross fit training and have children’s classes. He also encourages people to come in to work out and remain healthy. A membership at Vision Dayton is $60 per month, or $50 if you pay three months in advance and $30 for people under the age of 18.

Miller also wants to train police in MMA, in hopes of preventing fatal accidents. He points out that police officers are subject to more violent situations than people of other professions, and he believes that if the police were to be trained in MMA they would be less apt to pull guns or tasers, which are more likely result in fatalities.

“I’m not saying they don’t get enough of it [combative training],” said Miller. “I think they should get more of it and do it quite often. So they don’t have to rely on the quick problem solver. But obviously, if there is a gun involved it’s a different story.”

Dennis Pauley, a former Marine, displayed his disarming techniques. No matter how the mock gunman held his weapon. Pauley knew how to disarm his attacker with cobra like reflexes. With the mock gun at the back of Pauley’s head, he quickly moved his head out of the way of its sights and had the attacker on the ground with his wrist a couple degrees from breaking.

“It’s all about leverage,” said Miller as Pauley went through different techniques. “When disarming, your best bet is to tie them up and get them on the ground. That’s Jiu Jitsu. I think police should know this stuff.”

Miller has trained for over four years. He started training in a garage with a couple of friends before he started training at the Vision gym.   Miller became owner of the gym two and half years ago after Rod Hously, a Hamilton county Sheriff and owner of the Vision divisions had asked him to take the reins of the Dayton branch. Vision also has a gym in Cincinnati.

“I worked six days a week, I told him … I’m a fighter, I don’t know how to run a gym,” recounted Miller.

During the transition of ownership the gym’s power was shut off. But the group of 6 professionals and 15 amateur fighters weren’t left in the dark — they brought generators and continued to train.

“Everyone chips in to get things for the gym,” said Miller. “We have a family environment and everyone wants to help each other out.”

Miller is healing from ankle surgery. The initial injury happened years ago while playing basketball and flared up after training in this physically demanding sport.  He’s been in a cast for 6 weeks and is in the process of physical therapy.

Vision Dayton recently had an opportunity to show off the results of their training. Jordan Beverly (4-0) from Vision Dayton squared off with David Smires (4-0) in the heavy weight division in the American MMA Ohio Championships semifinals at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati. After the sound of the bell, Beverly put Smires down with a right uppercut, ending the fight in 14 seconds.

“It was exciting,” said Beverly, “That was my first KO.”

Beverly’s previous fights have resulted in technical knockouts, when the referee stopped the fight, in 24 seconds, a tap out in 1 minute and 7 seconds, a rear-naked choke in 23 seconds and a cobra choke in 22 seconds. Beverly said they work extremely hard at Vision Dayton and the people there are always willing to give out a helping hand. Beverly will advance further into the tournament to compete for the championship belt against Tim Dunn who is ranked number one in Ohio, with a professional fighting record of 9-2.

MMA has often been seen as a barbaric sport, and as Senator John McCain put it, as a “human cock fight.” Miller said that people should see the sport from the other side of the curtain. They don’t see the friendship between fighters after a fight. Miller said he still remains in close contact with his competitors. He said that it’s the purest form of competition, and believes the sport will be an Olympic sport soon.

The Vision team lost Chris Smith, a professional fighter, in a car accident earlier this month. According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, a car made an illegal pass, forcing Joshua Bach to swerve head-on into Smith’s vehicle. The police are still looking for the car that made the illegal turn, which was described as a gray or silver Saturn. The Vision team is now dedicated to carrying on what Smith did outside of the cage and gym – community work.

“We lost a dear friend and a valuable team member,” said Miller. “Victory through sacrifice is our main motto. He’ll remain through us.”

Reach DCP freelance writer Jordan Terrell at

[Photo: Vision Dayton’s Jordan Beverly after his recent KO victory]

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