If someone told you when you were growing up that you’d someday be fighting for a living, would you have believed them?
Absolutely, actually (laughs). I started martial arts because I told my mom I wanted to be the red ranger from Power Rangers, and she put me in classes the next day. I had it in my head that that was the first step in becoming a Power Ranger. I think being a professional fighter is actually kind of close to being a Power Ranger, now that I think about it (laughs). I would’ve believed you if you told me I’d be a fighter, for sure.
What’s the most difficult aspect of your fighting career?
The most difficult aspect is probably also the best aspect — it’s the grind. Most people — fans, whoever — they see the fight. But the fight is just the reward, the one shining moment. What they don’t see is the grind, and that’s not glamorous. It’s going to the gym twice a day to get everything in, whether you have a fight or not. You’re constantly grinding, constantly working, constantly pushing yourself to get better. In my mind, that’s the best part of training. But it’s also the hardest.
All that being said, has MMA come easy to you?
Fighting comes fairly easily to me since I’ve had this mindset for a long time. But, as far as MMA goes, I actually lost my first two amateur fights. I was just purely martial arts, without any MMA training. Everything I’ve got in MMA has been from my work ethic. Things have come to me because I work my butt off, and I show up at the gym every day and push myself.
How do you win this upcoming fight?
I actually don’t know a lot about my opponent, aside from the fact that he goes to a lot of decisions, which leads me to believe he’s got a hard head (laughs), and that he’s hard to put away. But I’ve never been to a decision, and I don’t plan on starting now. I’m going to finish this fight in the first or second round; it doesn’t matter how, whether it’s by knockout or submission.
Where would you like to be one year from today?
One year from today, at the end of 2017? I would like to be fighting for a larger promotion. I don’t want to say the UFC, because I’d also like to fight overseas and there are a lot of great international promotions. I’ll just say I would like to fight for a larger promotion after leaving Valor Fights as their 170-pound champ.