This edition of PRO MMA’s Amateur Spotlight shines upon a young 22-year-old up-and-coming fighter out of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. named Jamar Ocampo. He is a morning BJJ instructor at Millennia MMA and an accomplished grappler under Javier Vazquez.
Since there is no amateur MMA in the Golden State, Jamar gained the majority of his combat experience in grappling competitions and Pankration tournaments all over Southern California. His current Pankration record is 10-1. Jamar had one full-fledged amateur MMA bout in Idaho and choked out his opponent in 52 seconds. His professional debut is set for September in King of the Cage.
Jamar recently took a few minutes out of his schedule to speak with PRO MMA (promma.info) about his Pankration background, the difference between Pankration and MMA, his upcoming pro debut, Millennia MMA, and more.
PRO MMA: Thank you for talking to us at PRO MMA (promma.info) Jamar, how are you doing today?
JAMAR OCAMPO: I’m doing good thank you for taking the time to interview me.
PRO MMA: Where did you grow up and what attracted you to getting into combat sports, what was the first discipline you began training in, and how long have you been involved with martial arts?
JAMAR OCAMPO: Growing up I bounced back and forth from Ontario, Calif. and La Puente, Calif. I just kind of fell into MMA. I wanted to become a police officer so I signed up for police and fire academy training at Mt. Sac, I noticed they had a jiu-jitsu class and figured if I was going to be defending others it would help if I could defend myself. Once I started I was hooked, I started watching MMA (Pride and UFC) and I couldn’t get enough. A couple months later I was also training at a Muay Thai school. Roughly three years later I’m privileged enough to be here talking to you.
PRO MMA: You have a 10-1 record in Pankration. For those who aren’t familiar with Pankration, could you talk a little about the history of Pankration, other great fighters who started out in it, how you got into it, and why you would prefer straight MMA over Pankration?
JAMAR OCAMPO: Pankration began in the Ancient Greek Olympic Games. Back then it was anything goes fighting no time limits, only rules were no eye gouging and no biting. If it were still like that I would want no part of it. I am less a blood thirsty Gladiator and more of a modern athlete. Rules now are similar to an MMA bout with a point system minus striking to the head. Some of my friends were doing Pankration tournaments and since amateur MMA was and still is illegal in California that was a way of testing my progress outside of the gym. It is still relatively new so there are guys who are fighting pro now but no one huge (we all have to work our way up, just like anyone else). Of course I prefer MMA over Pankration that’s why I used one as a building block for the other. I like setting up all my stuff with punches and it’s hard if all you can do is hit the body, punching someone in the face makes things so much easier.
PRO MMA: You currently train at Millennia MMA in Rancho Cucomonga, California. We recently did an interview with one of your teammates, Liron Wilson. It sounds like Millennia is a great school with some top notch fighters. What’s going on with Liron and could you tell us what it is like training at Millennia MMA?
JAMAR OCAMPO: Liron is doing great he is training hard as always; he and I should be fighting on the same card in September. Millennia is an awesome academy it is everything I have wanted in a gym. We have world class instructors in Jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and wrestling. There are always tough guys to get beat up by, Manny Tapia is ranked top 10 in the world in his weight class and we have a lot of guys who are going to be jumping into rankings soon.
PRO MMA: I was looking over your bio and noticed at the World Grappling Challenge No Gi Tournament you took 2nd place in the 170 lbs. division, but it says you actually weighed in at 155 lbs. and was accidentally put in the wrong bracket. That sounds crazy. Can you talk to us about that tournament when it was and how that happened?
JAMAR OCAMPO: I’m guessing they didn’t have guys at intermediate 155 so they put in advanced 170, it was just a crazy day of sitting around waiting to compete; anyone who does grappling tournaments knows what I’m talking about. Five hours after I was supposed to start competing, they told me “you are up we put you in this bracket, go for it.” My coaches and I were like, “whatever” let’s just get it over with. I weighed in at 155 lbs. I’m normally 148-150 lbs. so I’m a 145-pounder, so I’m usually small at 155 lbs. and tiny at 170 lbs. but I didn’t care I just wanted to compete and get it over with. I was furious at the end of the day but felt better the next day when I watched footage and saw I still got two submissions and lost in overtime of finals in a very close match.
PRO MMA: When did you realize you wanted to pursue MMA as a professional career?
JAMAR OCAMPO: I always thought I would end up fighting but not until recently did I decide that would be it for me. I just love the sport and want to be a part of it and I’m young and athletic so I want to train as hard as possible, to go as far as possible. If I don’t try I would only be cheating myself out of a dream.
PRO MMA: Do you think it is important for fighters to have a “back up plan” if the pro MMA thing doesn’t work out? If so, do you have one?
JAMAR OCAMPO: It definitely is. Realistically unless you’re rich to start, you have to have another means of income. I just recently started training full time. My back up plans revolve around MMA, I want to become an instructor but anyone who trains for a couple years then decides they are fit to have their own academy or stable of fighters is lying to their students. Because of that I have to constantly train and evolve. I plan on someday reaching the top and going to give my all. If I don’t make it I will have a wealth of knowledge to teach from. Look at Greg Jackson and Shawn Tompkins’ records and tell me you have to be a phenomenal fighter to be a great coach. It just doesn’t always work that way but as long as you’re constantly learning you will have a place in MMA and that’s what I want.
PRO MMA: You’ve had one amateur full on MMA fight so far and you won very quickly. Could you talk to us about what that was like, if it felt any different than a Pankration fight, what promotion was it with, and all that?
JAMAR OCAMPO: That fight was in Idaho with the “Caged Warriors” promotion. It was a lot of fun, I couldn’t believe how nice people were out there until I realized they all carried guns then it all made sense. The fight was different/easier than a Pankration fight because I was able to hit him in the face to set up my takedown and my submission. I was also happy it was in a cage not a ring where there are no “resets.”
PRO MMA: It looks like you are supposed to have your first pro MMA fight in King of the Cage in September. Tell us about that, how that got set up, where it will be, any word on possible opponents and if you are nervous about your pro debut.
JAMAR OCAMPO: That fight came up thanks to my agent Jason House. It was offered as either amateur or pro so I asked my coaches and they said go pro. I have no idea who I am fighting yet; I would like to know soon to put a face at the end of my punch. I’m not really nervous just anxious and excited I want to fight and put on a good performance.
PRO MMA: Now you have technically only had one amateur MMA fight and you are turning pro. Is that something you would recommend to the normal fighter or did your experience in Pankration serve the same purpose as as amateur MMA. Are they similar enough that it is an easy transition?
JAMAR OCAMPO: Pankration really served as my amateur experience. For some guys it’s not the same; for me personally Pankration was harder because you can’t open guys up too much without strikes to the face. For some guys it doesn’t help because once they get punched or kicked in the head they shutdown like a straight jiujitsu guy would in an MMA fight. I get punched in the face a lot at gym by tough guys so it feels normal to me.
PRO MMA: Who has had the biggest influence on you as a fighter?
JAMAR OCAMPO: Three people stand out: Pedro Rizzo’s monstrous striking in his early career, my Jiu-jitsu instructor Javier Vazquez for making jiu-jistu vicious in MMA again, and most of all my younger brother Jean. He believes in me truly and unconditionally I can’t lose for him.
PRO MMA: If you could fight anyone in the world, who would it be?
JAMAR OCAMPO: I would love to fight Genki Sudo. That guy has never experienced a dull moment in his life so that fight would have to be fun. A close second is Dave Chappelle. I heard he wants to do MMA. I am a huge fan of his and that would definitely be memorable for the both of us and hopefully he’d put it in his stand up.
PRO MMA: What does the future hold for Jamar Ocampo? What do you ultimately want to achieve as a fighter?
JAMAR OCAMPO: I am going to continue training hard, compete in grappling tournaments, nonstop working my way up. Eventually I would like to not only challenge but beat the best inside the cage.
PRO MMA: Thank you for speaking to us at PRO MMA (promma.info), it was good getting to know you. Is there anyone you want to thank or do you want to send any shout-outs?
JAMAR OCAMPO: It has been my pleasure. I want to thank Jason for setting this up, my wife and little brother for supporting me, Javier Vazquez, Sean Ruiz, Jeff Frater, Mike Axtman as well as everyone else at Millennia. Of course “Ultimate Takedown”, “Brawl and Maul” and “Cold Forged” for helping me out and getting behind me. If it wasn’t for all their support I wouldn’t be where I am today.
By: Jack Bratcher