y journey to the UFC started off in Tampa, Florida delivering pizzas. I hated it. You were always just “the pizza guy” – you didn’t exist. People always wanted me to give them their pizza and get off their property. You still have cool customers here and there, but it’s kind of like you’re invisible.
One day, I delivered to a garage where they were doing jiu-jitsu. I had never really seen it before, so I asked them what they were doing and they broke it down for me. From there, I was hooked. I signed up for a trial at the school they recommended and the rest is history.
Soon enough, I had signed up for a year. I spent some time in Florida before moving to Boston and just kept pushing from there. I had just turned 20, and I wasn’t really doing much, just partying, working, thinking about going to back to school, and I wasn’t really committed to anything. I found MMA and my search was over. Right then and there, I knew this was what I wanted to commit myself to.
When I first started, I didn’t really know what kind of fighter I was. I didn’t know if I was a ground guy, striking guy, or if I wanted to be a rounded jiu-jitsu guy. But, as the fights kept coming I realized I was more of a striker with a decent ground game. I started off in jiu-jitsu school which was heavy in groundwork, and I actually won my first fight by submission in the opening round. As I kept fighting, though, I got better with striking and I think that showed what my body type is more geared towards. The knockouts started happening and that was it, I wanted nothing but knockouts. There’s no better feeling than putting your hands together and putting someone down.
With fighting, there are going to be tough days, but there are also going to be really good days. As long as you try harder the next day, or harder the next tournament, you can always find a way to succeed. Once you stop trying, it’s all over. Once you quit on yourself in the gym, it’s going to show in the fight. Knowing that if I push harder, there’s always a way I can find a solution to get out of a choke, take someone down, or find a way to win. It’s all about the effort you put in and making sure you’re consistently trying as hard as you possibly can.
After an ‘L’, I’m a little pissed, I’m a little disappointed. You try your best to not think too much about what went wrong, but that’s the only thing on your mind.
This last loss in my fight against Raphael Assuncao was one of the lowest moments in my career.
The UFC is a complicated business. Raphael was ranked third in the world and pushing for a title shot. He might not get that shot because he doesn’t sell himself through social media as well as other fighters. It feels like the UFC doesn’t really want to push him as the main contender.
The sport is looking for fights that draw up a lot of publicity, controversy, and of course viewers. That is why you see guys like Connor McGregor so often, he’s not only a great fighter but he really knows how to promote himself. The loss against Raphael cut deep because if I had won that fight, I KNOW I could have got a title shot – or even a number one contender fight. Knowing that really stung.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with overcoming a loss. I lost early in my career which I think has helped me out more than I could have ever imagined. From the beginning, I’ve known I can always bounce back. I never shy away from competition and I never get discouraged, I use failure as fuel. It sounds corny to say, but it’s really motivating to get back in the ring and just get that taste straight out of my mouth. I hop back in the octagon and compete to win.
It’s an addiction to winning that keeps you going. I’m addicted to winning, that feeling, the competition, it’s a drug almost. I need it, I want it, I can’t get enough of it. That feeling, that’s what makes it easy to get up and start over again. I’ve done it before, I’ve been here before, I’ve dealt with a few losses in the past and know how to bounce back.
We’re fighting top guys in the world so it’s always going to be a tough match-up. When you’re fighting the best guys in the world, it’s always a brutal fight and I know there’s a chance I can lose, but it’s just one of those things that I don’t get discouraged from L’s.
At the end of the day, fighting is where it’s at for me. I’m always hungry.
I know what it’s like to be the pizza delivery guy, and I know what it’s like to be a fighter. I never want to go back to delivering pizzas, so I’m always going to get back up off the mat and just keep pushing until I’m at the top.