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TRAINING: A typical day of training for this fight starts with a strength and conditioning session at Functional Muscle Fitness in Concord. I've been working on getting more explosive and stronger for this fight. My trainer, Mark Wine, has me doing a lot of footwork drills and sprints on top of everything else. Then I try to eat and rest before heading out to the city to train at El Nino Training Center, Gilbert Melendez's gym. I've been working my grappling, my wrestling, fight-specific situations, and my stand-up out there. I have also been spending a lot of time working with my Muay Thai coach, Jongsanan.
When and why did you start training for fighting? I started training to fight in 2008 after I watched a Kongo-Do Fight Team practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I didn't know how I would react in a sanctioned fight and I wanted to find out. I had always imagined I'd be a good fighter and jumped at the chance to test myself one month later. It went well, I knocked my opponent out, and decided to see how far I could go if I truly devoted myself to becoming the best fighter that I could be.
What ranks and titles have you held? I am still the Kickdown bantamweight champion. I also won some tournaments - Grapplers Quest in Vegas in 2010 and the Gracie Open in 2011.
Do you have any heroes? I don't really have one or two specific heroes - I try to look for the heroic side of everyone. It can be hard, but if I try hard enough I can find amazing qualities in almost everyone.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? Getting to fight in the UFC is one of the most significant events of my life. I have wanted to fight in the UFC since the beginning of my fight career. More than advancing my fighting career, stepping on to the biggest stage in the world for MMA is a milestone in my personal growth as a person. I never learned how to try my hardest until I started fighting. Seeing hard work bring my goals to fruition is something I will transfer to everything else in my life.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I have my AA from Pikes Peak Community College. I would like to go back to school sooner rather than later.
What was your job before you started fighting? I was working as a bartender and food server in Colorado Springs. I decided there wasn't enough integrity in serving unhealthy food and getting people wasted so I quit and got a summer job watering plants at a nursery for $5.75 an hour. I didn't know it at the time, but that was the beginning of my transition to a healthier lifestyle that led me to be inside a gym where I first saw an MMA practice.
Ranks in any martial arts styles: I am a blue belt under Cesar Gracie
Favorite grappling technique: Americana