Usually, this time of year would mean a sharpening of pencils and gathering of school supplies for Ode’ Osbourne. But having settled into his move from Milwaukee to Las Vegas, “Mr. O” will be fighting full-time for the foreseeable future.
“It's looking like it,” he said. “I've had to hang up the ruler.”
That wasn’t easy for the flyweight prospect, who faces Tyson Nam in San Diego on Saturday, but the move was necessary to give him his best shot at taking his pro MMA career as far as he can.
“I miss it,” said the former teacher. “I do, but I do need to do something for me for a change. At first, I was getting a little itchy (to teach again), but now that I've settled in, I realized that I do need to make these changes and do something for myself.”
The Jamaica native calls it the “Oxygen Mask Theory.”
“When you’re on airplane, the oxygen mask falls down and you gotta put it on yourself first before you apply oxygen to the people around you,” he explains. “And that's always been me my entire life - I've been applying oxygen to everybody else but myself and in order to show my students what sacrifice looks like, this is something I have to do for them.”
The results speak for themselves. In two fights with the Syndicate MMA squad, Osbourne is unbeaten, decisioning CJ Vergara and knocking out Zarrukh Adashev. In the process, he’s found a semblance of peace that he didn’t have back in Milwaukee.
“You need peace of mind - that is the key to a successful fight career,” he said. “In my opinion, I think a lot of times when we have a downfall is because we have too many voices, too many people with input, too much peer pressure. So sometimes, being by myself and having my thought process by myself, I'm somebody who doesn't really like to be told what to do. I like to be coached and taught. I don't like to be demanded. So people get too comfortable with you, and a lot of demands are made, and the higher up in the rankings you go, things settle in and sometimes it's just good to get away into the woods.”
It's also a good thing to have like-minded individuals around you in the gym that aren’t only chasing the same goals in their professional life, but that also share similar journeys outside the gym. Osbourne’s found that in his teammates in Las Vegas.
“It's very important, because birds of a feather flock together,” he said. “It's awesome to have friends that stick by you through and through, but, at the same time, sometimes you have to move away from your friends and your family because they don't understand what you're going through. So it's good to have fighters that actually understand what you're going through and have been through it because you can lean on them at certain times when you're down or certain times when you need a little push. And you can always lean on certain people in the gym that have been going through the same thing because everybody moves out to Vegas. No one was born and raised here, really. Most of these fighters came out here with the same situation.”
What happens next is up to each individual who makes that walk on fight night. Some make it to where they want to go, others don’t cut it. The 30-year-old is determined to get what he wants out of this sport, and that quest continues against the returning Nam, a Hawaiian power hitter making his first start since January of 2021. It’s a risky fight on a full camp, let alone short notice, but Osbourne was all-in as soon as he got the phone call.
“A lot of people forget that, at the end of the day, you are a fighter,” he said. “You go in there and you fight the person, and sometimes everything is not gonna line up perfect.”
But sometimes it does, and Osbourne has had enough of those perfect nights where he wants some more. Then it’s back to the gym and back to his time alone to reflect on his faith. The way he sees it, he’s finally found the perfect mix in his new hometown.
“That's what drives me and it's changed me a lot because it's forced me to see outside of the worldly things,” he said. “It's helped me grow and see things that actually matter. I want to motivate and educate and do phenomenal things. I used to think my destiny was fighting, but in reality, my destiny is way greater than fighting. I don't know what that is yet, but God has been prepping me to embark on this journey, and at the end of the journey, I'm not sure what it will be, but we'll find out.”
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