If someone told you when you were growing up that you’d someday be a professional fighter, would you have believed them?
(Laughs) Probably not. Probably not.
How did you find MMA to begin with?
I was an athlete my whole life growing up. I started getting into sports at the age of 4, playing football. That evolved into a little bit of everything; I did ‘em all growing up and in high school. Once I graduated high school, I was looking to find something to do to stay active, and to compete, and I found MMA and I loved it. Once I started at the age of 17, I loved it, and I’ve just continued to where I am today.
I grew up in a little town called Woodbine, which isn’t the nicest town to grow up in. It made me pretty tough being in that environment, and I’ve always been a competitive person. MMA just feels natural. I’ve never been scared and never turned a fight down. It’s the most pure sport to me; all you use is your body. It’s your body versus somebody else’s body. It’s very pure to me.
How would you describe your time spent training with Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif.?
It was awesome. I went out there for a week and got some very, very good training in. Multiple times daily you’re on the mat with high-level, very good fighters — guys from the UFC,the best fighters in that area, really dangerous strikers and high-level black belts. It was cool being in that environment where everybody you train with is a high-level fighter so there aren’t any easy rounds. I really did well up there. I stood my ground and I got better. I saw the potential that I have and I saw how close I am to being at the top.
How excited are you to show what you’ve been working on when the cage door locks at Valor Fights 40 on February 11 in Nashville?
I’m very excited. Like I said, I was only out there for a week and was able to pick up on some things — but my home is Nashville MMA, where we learn and develop every day. The only difference between Nashville and Sacramento is the number of training partners, so I’m learning every day. But I am excited to go out there and show how much I’ve improved since my last fight.