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TRAINING: Hard work in all aspects of MMA
When and why did you start training for fighting? In college (fall of 1999) I began my martial arts journey in BJJ. I had been a UFC fan through high school, but never had an opportunity to train MMA. After training in Jiu-Jitsu for about a year and a half, I wanted to see if what I was learning was realistic. Since MMA was the closest challenge to a street fight, I decided to try my hand at it. My first fight was tough but I got the submission win and I was hooked ever since. As I continued to compete, the sport really started to grow and I stayed dedicated to getting better and wanted to see how far I could take it. And here I am.
What ranks and titles have you held? Total Fight Challenge Lightweight Champion, Kage One Lightweight Champion
Do you have any heroes? I have a few heroes. My parents are two of them. They have been the biggest reasons for my successes and making me the person I am. They have always been very supportive of me and gave me the motivation to pursue my dreams. My BJJ coach, Jack McVicker, has also been a great mentor and friend. Besides showing me how to be a humble martial artist, he has also been a great role model by continually proving that hard work leads to success and always leading by example. And of course another hero of mine is Peter Griffin….no explanation needed.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? Fighting in the UFC means that years of hard work and sacrifice have paid off. It also means that I have reached a goal that I have pursued for over a decade. While it is an amazing feeling that is hard to describe, it also means I still have my work cut out for me. The accomplishment of one goal has led me to a whole other set of goals. Now I must prove that I belong there and do my best to solidify a home in the best organization in the world.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelors Degree in Education and a minor in Mathematics.
What was your job before you started fighting? For most of my career, I have either been a student or held a full-time job while training and fighting on the side. When I moved to the Hit Squad in February of 2008, I was able to make fighting my full-time occupation. Prior to that I was the Operations Manager for a company called Kaplan in Champaign, IL. This company provides students with test preparation classes and tutoring for standardized tests such as the ACT, MCAT, LSAT, etc. Besides running the day to day operations of the business, I advised students on the best ways to reach their educational goals. I really enjoyed the job, but I am much happier now that martial arts is my profession.
Specific accomplishments in amateur competition? Brown Belt Lightweight Gold Medalist in the 2010 Pan Championships in Irvine, CA, Brown Belt Lightweight Silver Medalist in 2009 Masters/Seniors Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brown Belt Absolute Division Silver Medalist in 2009 Masters/Seniors Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Specific accomplishments in pro competition? I fought on Season 4 of Bodog Fight (Paradise Lost) in Costa Rica. In that fight I received a bonus and an award for the most technical fight.
Ranks in any martial arts styles: 3-stripe Brown Belt in BJJ, Red/Black Belt in Jeet Kune Do Concepts
Favorite grappling technique: Stone Cold Stunner
Favorite Striking technique: The People’s Elbow