When and why did you start training for fighting? I have been fighting and training martial arts my entire life. My dad was a Tae Kwon Do instructor for about 30-plus years so I started taking Tae Kwon Do when I was about 3 or 4 years old. Throughout my entire childhood, we watched the UFC, along with many other fighting movies, back when the UFC and PRIDE were pretty much the only known MMA promotions in the world. I trained and competed in TKD until I started wrestling in the sixth grade. I then wrestled from sixth grade all the way through college. Throughout that time, I would always make my friends glove up and fight me in my backyard and at my dad’s TKD academy after hours. Not long after I graduated college in 2013, I finally got the opportunity to actually train MMA when I found Tech MMA & Fitness Academy in 2014, which was referred by a childhood friend. I trained for about two months before having my first amateur MMA fight. I had seven amateur fights before turning pro at the end of 2015. At the beginning of 2016, I decided to quit my job in order to train full-time and have been a full-time fighter ever since. Fighting has always been a part of my life and ever since I was a child, I have always had aspirations of being a UFC fighter.
What ranks and titles have you held? CES bantamweight world champion, KOTC bantamweight world champion, PA Cage Fight champion
Do you have any heroes? My parents and my wife are my heroes. My parents have always believed in me and supported everything that I’ve done throughout my entire life. I realize there are a lot of people in the world that don’t have both of their parents so I’m even more grateful for them; not just to have them but to have the best parents anyone could ever ask for. My wife is also my hero. Without her love and support, this dream wouldn’t have come into fruition so quickly. She takes care of pretty much everything financially just so I can continue to pursue this dream and train full-time. On top of that, she always cooks the things I need to fuel my body for a hard day of training and sacrifices so much more so we can make my dream become a reality. I’m extremely fortunate to have such tremendous support in my life.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? To me, fighting in the UFC means that I’ve fulfilled my destiny. When I was in elementary school, I told myself that I would fight in the UFC. Growing up in a martial arts household, everything that I watched and played with was fight related, so fighting is all I’ve ever known. The 20-plus years of combat sports that I’ve competed in have prepared me for this amazing opportunity.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I attended and wrestled at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Building Sciences with a concentration in Construction Management.
What was your job before you started fighting? Before I started fighting, I was a Construction Project Manager for a concrete contractor.
Specific accomplishments in amateur competition? Amateur MMA: CageZilla bantamweight champion (Virginia), Fight Lab bantamweight champion (North Carolina)
High School Wrestling: 2x Virginia High School State champion, 3x High School All-American
College Wrestling: 2x NCAA Division I Southern Conference Champion, 2x NCAA Division I National Qualifier
Ranks in any martial arts styles: Purple belt in BJJ, black belt in Tae Kwon Do, NCAA Division I college wrestler
Favorite grappling technique: Slams
Favorite striking technique: Elbows and right hands