My story is an interesting one, and one that begins different from most…a second string high school football player who wanted nothing more than to play college ball. Since God had not granted me the size to pursue a college football career, I decided to get back into karate. It was something my father had put me into when I was 12, and I was hoping it would quench my competitive thirst.
I met and became friends with my instructor’s sons, Josh and Shawn Rafferty. Shawn learned Thai boxing while serving in the Marine Corps, and together we took our current knowledge and added to it by training in styles other than what we were used to. At this point, I had my first taste of the UFC. After watching in disbelief that stand-up fighters could not keep a fight standing, I began studying some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We began training at a school down the road with a jiu-jitsu program, and we used Rafferty’s father’s facility to train. Training was short lived as our school shut down, and attendance dropped off at the jiu-jitsu classes. From there, we had no place to train, and refusing to quit, we cleared out an old shed in the Rafferty’s backyard and continued to practice. Josh and I continued to practice in the shed, even in temperatures reaching as low as 40 degrees at some points and topping out at about 110 degrees. I would meet Shawn at the field house on UC’s campus for supplemental training.
The three of us decided to watch our first local amateur show, at which point we decided to fight. This was a pivotal point in my life, since I had just graduated college, accepted my first job as a teacher, and found a solid training facility at Excalibur fitness. We began training with Kerry Schall and coordinated training sessions for a small group of fighters at the gym. During this time I had key victories over Gary Myers and Aaron Brink, at which time Monte Cox began managing me. I went on to beat Dennis Reed, Travis Fulton and Marvin Eastman. However, it seemed our skill level had peaked at Excalibur, and we needed more training partners and resources to excel in MMA.
Once again, I found myself at another pivotal point of my life. I met my wife, we bought our first house, I quit teaching to train full-time and I found several new training facilities and coaches. It was also at this point that I was offered my first fight in the UFC. I presently train at facilities run by Mike Ferguson, a strength and conditioning coach (Powerstation Gym), Jorge Gurgel, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt (JG MMA Academy); Neal Rowe, a Muay Thai instructor (Sacan Martial Arts); and Rob Radford, a boxing instructor (Boxing 4 Fitness).