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TRAINING: A typical day of training for me in preparation for this fight involves sharpening my skills in all areas. I train twice a day, every day. I work my standup on pads and in sparring sessions. I train my BJJ technique and work my wrestling technique. I have also been working a few tricks for TJ that I think the fans will enjoy in the fight.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started wrestling when I was 14 in high school. In just 3 years of high school wrestling I became a state qualifier in 2002. I started boxing when I was 16. I won the golden gloves tournament the first year I started. I went on to wrestle in college at Lindenwood University, and continued my boxing career. I transferred colleges in 2003 and discovered an MMA gym in Columbia, MO. I instantly fell in love with the sport and had my first fight after only 5 weeks of training on 6 hours notice. I knocked the guy out in 96 seconds and have never looked back.
What ranks and titles have you held? Missouri state qualifier wrestling 2002, Missouri Golden Gloves Champion 2002, Missouri Golden Gloves runner up 2004, Irish Open BJJ Champion 2011, Purple Belt in BJJ under Kiko France, a Ricardo Liborio black belt
Do you have any heroes? I really look up to GSP. I admire his athletic ability and his knowledge inside the cage. I also really look up to Forrest Griffin. I think he is one of the most charismatic personalities in the UFC.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. I can remember being 8 years old and watching the first couple UFC's and being in awe of the whole spectacle. I got into mixed martial arts before it became so mainstream after the TUF show. This moment has literally been 8 years in the making. I have put in a countless number of hours in the gym, going over the same moves thousands of times, with the driving motivation that one day I would make it to the big show. Now I finally have and it is truly a dream come true.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I graduated from the University of Missouri - Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in education. I am certified to teach secondary social studies.
What was your job before you started fighting? Straight out of college I started managing a branch of American Top Team in Columbia, Missouri. I was able to train with the likes of Tyron Woodley, Ben Askren, Mike Chandler, and several other very talented guys on a daily basis. I managed fighters there, managed the finances, and kept the gym going. I was later approached by Marc Fiore, asking me to come fight for him at the HIT Squad. I thought it would be a great opportunity to let go of some of my responsibilities and focus on being a full-time fighter. As a full-time fighter I, of course, had to take a couple jobs bouncing in bars and bartending, but I've stuck with Marc since then and I'm very happy to be a part of the Fiore MMA team.
Favorite grappling technique: half guard knee bar
Favorite Striking technique: elbows