How did you get started and what made you decide to be an MMA fighter?
I’ve always been very competitive. I feel like I'm probably drawn to fighting because I view it as the most fundamental form of competition. All sports are about who can beat who in a given set of rules, and if you remove all the rules one by one eventually it comes down to who’s standing and who’s not at the end of the match.
What makes someone a fighter?
To be a fighter someone has to have the will to follow through with plans and endure suffering to achieve a goal. I’ve known a lot of people who say they want to fight, most don’t have the spine to show up at the gym. Very few people commit to endure the years of training. And only a handful are willing to step into the cage in front of hundreds of people to fight someone who’s singular focus is to hurt them. It takes natural gifts to rise to the elite level, but to fight all you need is the willingness to suffer and the courage to follow through on the goals you set.
How would you describe your fight style?
I’m am about as focused on grappling as a fighter can be in the modern environment. My stand up has come a long way, and I love striking, but in a high stakes situation I will normally rely on take downs and submissions. On the ground I like to look for creative submissions and control positions. I prefer to control my opponent and gradually break them down until I find the submission openings I want.
What’s your favorite strike/submission to use in a fight?
My favorite submission is the reverse arm bar from a mounted crucifix. I have a handful of submissions I like to run in series with each other from this position, but the arm bar is the biggest threat I have.
What's your favorite thing about fighting?
My favorite thing about fighting is the strategy game aspect of it. I view it as a chess match, except every person shows up with a different set of pieces and you have to find a way to win with the pieces you brought with you.
If you could start your fight career over, what would you do differently?
If I could make one change to my fight career I would go back and start at a younger age. I see fighters who are only 18 years old and think of how far they will be by the time they are my age, and how many years they have before they hit their prime. While I’m not at my prime yet I’m a lot closer than those kids and I wish I could have trained as a teenager.
How do you feel about your upcoming fight?
I feel excited. My opponent beat me a few years ago, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to show how far I have come since that fight.
What holes do you see in your opponent’s game?
My opponent doesn’t have many holes. He is one of the best Amateurs in the state, so he doesn’t have any huge exploitable gaps. It’s going to come down to his strengths vs. mine.
How do you think the fight is going to end?
It's going to be a war. I think its going to be a drawn out fight, but in the end I'm expecting to grind him down and get the tap.
What are your goals in MMA?
The first goal is always to win the next fight. I would like to try for another title at the amateur level and eventually go pro. I doubt I’ll ever be able to make a living at fighting, but I’ll climb as high as I can and enjoy the journey.
If you could have one dream fight with any MMA fighter, who would it be?
Probably Khabib. It would be the the worst fight I can imagine, but I love his style.
What do you like to do outside of MMA?
MMA is where most of my time goes, but outside of that I like pretty much anything active, especially if it is outdoors.
What is your life motto?
Nothing worth having is easily obtained.
Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why?
My aunt has probably influenced me the most in life. She always told me from a young age to never quit when things get hard. I feel like the mentality she inspired in me has probably been my drive to push through adversity both in and out of the cage.
What is something people should know about you?
I’m getting married in a month!
Is there anyone you would like to thank (sponsors, family, gym, etc.)?
I would like to thank my gym for supporting me. I have an excellent team with a lot of high level training partners around my size. Even Kotzur, Freddy Leal, Rafael Nepaulsingh, and Anthony Cruz have all helped me push my game to a new level. My coach Bubba has always been there pushing me to excel, and without him I know I wouldn’t be able to live out my dream of fighting. And last I have to thank my fiancé Anaiza. Despite the strain fight camp puts on me she is always there to give me the the support I need.