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Who's Giboo? Iowa fighter/science teacher chronicles first UFC experience (Part I)

James Giboo

Well, the week that I have been dreaming about since I was a young teenager is finally here ... my UFC debut. Brad Blackburn is my opponent and we will go at it in a welterweight bout at UFC Fight Night 14: "Silva vs. Irvin" at "The Pearl" in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 19.

I intend to tell you all about what it's like to fight on the biggest mixed martial arts stage in the world for the first time right here at

It is unbelievable to think that a kid from a small town -- who was addicted to watching a sport that people were calling barbaric -- is finally here. Unfortunately, MMA is illegal in my home state of New York. Don’t get me started on how uneducated the people making the laws in New York are on the fastest growing sport in the world.

That's material for its own blog post ... not this one.

I guess I will start from the beginning. I am James Giboo. Most of you are probably saying, "who?" I grew up in Franklinville, N.Y. I was a very athletic kid who had an extreme competitive drive -- I once played a complete football game on a broken leg to give you some perspective.

When it was time to go to college, I chose to come out to Iowa to wrestle at Upper Iowa University. It was mostly my desire to be independent and get away from home that helped me make that choice. In hindsight, it was the right choice because the whole UFC thing would have never happened if I stayed in New York.

I had a pretty successful career in college wrestling; however, the only problem was all the injuries that I suffered. We are talking detached ribs, multiple knee injuries, tons of back problems, hernia and a severe infection. The nail in the coffin was my senior year -- I had only lost once until I suffered another knee injury in practice.

After weeks of rehab and the knee not responding, I almost called it quits. I thank my coach, Heath Grimm, every time I see him for talking me out of it because once you are a quitter, you will always be a quitter. I finished the year coming up short of my dream of All-American because my cardio was never the same and I lost a bunch of one point matches.

In college, I met the love of my life and now my wife, Kelly. This is going to sound stupid but I had this Michigan sweatshirt that I loved and the first time that I saw her wear it, I knew I was going to marry her. We just celebrated our ninth anniversary last Thursday. I have two kids that mean more to me than anything in the world, Desean 7 and Keiana 4.

Any free time that I have in a day is spent with them.

To get to the MMA part of my life, I moved to Des Moines, Iowa, after college to become a teacher at the largest school in the state. While teaching there I made some friends and learned that there was place to actually train in Des Moines. So I was finally talked into going to the place.

And that is where I met Josh Neer.

He had just fought Spencer Fisher in a five-round war a couple days earlier so he was beat up bad but was still practicing. I still remember the first time I rolled with him ... he tapped me out three times. I got smart real quick and stopped making stupid mistakes.

Within a couple weeks I could hang with him and within a couple more weeks Josh talked me in to my first fight. I got a quick submission and my fighting career (which was just a hobby at this point) was underway. I was a fast learner and put together a few wins.

That is when Josh made his move to Miletich and my career basically came to a stand still. I took a bunch of time off and then took a fight that I should have because I wasn’t training. I had no stand up whatsoever -- it was still a hobby to fill my competitiveness at that time. After I lost that fight I decided to start training a little more seriously because I hated to lose.

I put together a few more wins. It was nothing big until I decided to hire a manager. He right away got me a fight with Kyle Jensen for a title. I was really excited at first until I realized that no one was going with me. None of my teammates wanted to go so I took a guy who I had only worked out with a couple times (Joe is now one of my main training partners).

In short, I wasn’t ready for that fight.

My conditioning sucked, I didn’t have any training partners to push me, I about died making weight, and I still had no stand up fighting a guy with more 40 fights. Needless to say the fight didn’t go my way!

This is when the big change in my fighting career came. I finally decided to switch gyms because I needed a place with coaches. I wasn’t getting better and I didn’t have people to push me. I went to Des Moines Jiu Jitsu and started working with Chris David and with stand up coaches Dub and Chubbs.

Another big factor for going there was Kevin Burns, who is now like a brother to me and will also be competing on the card this weekend against Anthony Johnson. I needed a reliable partner who was going to push me in every part of my game ... and that is Kevin.

We train together everyday and I couldn't ask for a better workout partner. We push each other to the limits and help each other with different parts of our games. "They" say the proof is in the pudding. Well, neither of us has lost since we started training together. I also have a lot of other great training partners besides Kevin who push me so they deserve credit, too.

This is my brief history. This is how I got to the point that I am now going to be fighting in the greatest show on Earth. Next time I will talk about my training camp and how my week leading up to the fight goes. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

-James Giboo

James Giboo (10-2) is a professional mixed martial artist and Iowa science teacher who will make his Octagon debut against Brad Blackburn at UFC Fight Night 14 on July 19. He has competed extensively (and successfully) in the Midwest circuit, which has earned him a rare opportunity to now put his skills to the test against the top fighters in the world under the UFC banner. James will frequently detail his journey to the big time right here at this week, providing our readers and his fans with a behind-the-scenes account of what it's like to fight for the biggest mixed martial arts promotion on the planet for the first time.

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