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TRAINING: I spend my mornings doing strength and conditioning and then jiu-jitsu class with my coaches John Wheeler and BJJ black belt Tom Knox. I come back in the evenings for a combination of sparring, jiu-jitsu, boxing, and Muay Thai, depending on the day of the week. I also run distance runs and sprints throughout the week.
Thoughts on opponent, Manvel Gamburyan? Manny's a veteran of the sport and has been fighting under the Zuffa banner for a long time. I respect him for that. He's got heavy hands, great judo, and solid ground skills. I respect his skills as well. But Manny Gamburyan today isn't the Manny Gamburyan from a few years ago. Any quick review of his fights will show that. I'm part of a new movement in mixed martial arts. A new breed of fighter. On September 27th, it's my job to showcase that. I'm bigger, faster, and more skilled in every aspect of the game than Manny, and I can't wait to transform these words into a visual statement on the 27th.When and why did you start training for fighting? I started training when I was still wrestling in college. I would come home in the summertime and pick up a fight for a few hundred bucks. I didn’t really know how to strike or anything about jiu-jitsu back then but I enjoyed a good fist fight and I was a good wrestler.
What ranks and titles have you held? Blue belt in BJJ under Cleber Luciano/Tom Knox,
Two-time Junior College All-American wrestler for Bakersfield College, College wrestler for 5 years (Bakersfield College & Menlo College)
Do you have any heroes? My little brother Jacob is my hero. He had a stroke when he was born and is severly mentally handicapped. Although his life is limited by his disability, he is the epitome of everything that is good about this world. One of my main motivations to fight is to make him proud of me.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? For me, it means everything and nothing. It means everything because it gives me the opportunity to provide for my family doing what I love to do. I come from a small town in central California, coach my alma mater high school wrestling team, and it means a lot for my community to have someone represent them on the national level. It means nothing because although I’ve accomplished a short-term goal of making it to the UFC, I haven’t done anything yet, and, until I do, it doesn’t mean anything.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I went to Bakersfield Junior College and Menlo College (Bay Area). I have a B.A degree in History. I also recently finished my teaching credential program and hold a preliminary teaching credential. I am currently enrolled in my last semester of college at Brandman University, where I am pursuing my Masters Degree in education.
What was your job before you started fighting? I’ve been working as a substitute teacher for the last three and a half years while I’ve been pursuing MMA and continuing my education. I also coach wrestling at Mt.Whitney High School, which is my alma mater.
Favorite grappling technique: D’arce choke, Anaconda choke, guillotine
Favorite striking technique: Uppercuts, hooks, liver kick