The thrill of victory: A pro fighter's first ever win as told from inside the cage


This is a recap of my second professional fight. I don’t fight for a living, I fight for a hobby and because I have an insane amount of passion and love for this sport. My first pro fight did NOT go anywhere near the way I wanted it to.

Due to quite a few unforeseen circumstances, I lost to a guy who I definitely should have beaten (not to take anything away from him, I respect anyone who competes) and someone I only fought because I was told he was calling me out.

I was very upset with my performance, I felt like I let down all my friends, family, and most importantly my coach and training partners, so I wanted this fight to be an opportunity to show everyone what I can really do, and to make my coaches proud.

Among my corner men was Pablo Garza, a very good friend of mine, the guy that brought me to my gym, one of the final 28 on this season of TUF (lost a decision to Michael Johnson to get in the house) and the man who will be the first 145 lb fighter to fight under the UFC banner at the TUF Finale when he faces Fredson Paxiao in December.

Pablo is pretty much my idol, so I really wanted to make him proud.

We come out, exchange jabs, clinch, and I take a knee right to the shiny baubles. Hard. I take a knee and catch my breath, and after about a minute I signal to the ref I'm ready to go. We meet in the center of the cage and clinch again.

I land a nice right hand and he lands a knee to my body and another very nice knee to my chin. He forces me up against the cage, right in my corner so I have the benefit of being able to hear my cornermen clearly. I pummel in to get double under hooks and turn him into the cage. I throw a decent knee to his abdomen, and he locks in a standing guillotine with his left arm.

I drop my right hand down to hook his left leg to go for the takedown, but he is much stronger than me and I cant get my hips low enough to secure the takedown due to his guillotine. He adjusts his choke, and knees me in the sack again. The ref didn’t quite see that one clearly, so he lets the fight continue but gives my opponent a warning to "keep the knees up".

At this time, the choke is getting tighter, and I can hear a wooshing in my ears and the lights start to go dim. I manage to pry his hands loose and pop my head out of the choke, but he clinches again and has me up against the cage. He does a good job of pinning me against the fence and neutralizing my offense, but hes not doing anything offensive either.

The ref breaks us apart and we restart in the middle of the cage. I land a hard leg kick to his lead leg, and he comes back with two leg kicks of his own, both of which I check. My opponent then tries a sloppy switch kick that I catch and use to shoot in and take him down.

I land in side control and drop some elbows on his face, followed by a couple rabbit punches. He scoots his back up against the fence, but I’m able to pull his hips away and get him flat on his back again. I throw a knee to his ribs, and he uses the space I created to hip away and stand up, but not before I lock in my own guillotine on the way up.

After holding the standing guillotine for a bit, I trip him back down to the mat, land in side control, and pass to mount. He tries the old buck-and-roll sweep, and I use it to lock in yet another guillotine. This time its really tight, and I pull guard and squeeze…but we are about four minutes into the round and both pretty sweaty and I feel him start to pull his head out.

He pushes my elbow down and is now completely out of the choke, and postures up and lands some good punches to my dome from in my guard. I get my feet on his hips and push him off me, but he dives back on top of me before I can stand up. I get control of his right wrist and throw up a triangle (not to brag, but after watching the video, I was quite impressed with how quickly I threw it up and locked it in).

I lock in the triangle and its tight, and then break him down so he’s on his side swinging hammer fists at my face. Right here I remember thinking "Thank God, this is over, I’ve got him!" but he gets to his knees, gets his feet under himself and tries to stack me.

Right then I hear the CRACK-CRACK-CRACK of the ten-second warning… I reach down and hook his leg and roll him backwards so I end up in a mounted triangle, fully locked in and start slamming punches and elbows into his face, but he’s not tapping. I forgo the punches and grab his head and pull him in to the choke tighter, squeeze my legs together as hard as I can…he gurgles and is totally purple…and the bell sounds. We’re going to the second round.


I walk to my corner and listen to everything they say, and what seems like five seconds later I'm walking towards my opponent again. He looks more tired than I feel and that gives me a little more energy. I take a step forward, then back up -- Im trying to bait him into coming into my corner again and it works.

I throw a very ugly, sloppy right hand, but somehow it lands and then I grab the muay thai plum. He backs me into the cage again, but I turn him into it and stick my head into the guillotine again. Evidently I don’t learn very well. I pull my head out, hook a leg and basically shove him backwards and he falls to the mat.

He stands back up pretty quick and I land a very solid straight right to his jaw. He stumbles back into the cage, I follow with a jab, right hook to the head, left hook to the liver and he counters with another well timed knee to the scrote.

The ref takes a point away from my opponent this time and now I’m pissed. I take about 30 seconds and meet him in the center of the cage. I land a jab, left hook, right cross, and he's stunned against the cage. I grab one collar tie with my left hand and launch some body shots and uppercuts with my right hand. He slams a knee into my stomach, and I land a hard right hook, then a right hook-left hook combo.

He clinches up, pushes me against the cage and takes me down. I obtain guard right away, stuff an arm and lock in a triangle again. I hook his leg, break him down, and can see the lights getting dim. I feel him tap my back but the ref didn’t see it cause he's on the wrong side. I say "sorry buddy" and keep holding it. He taps with the other hand so the ref sees it and its all over.

I won!

Officially 1-1 as a pro, I can say that Saturday, October 30, was the best night of my life thus far. May sound pathetic to some, but winning a pro MMA fight was the first real goal I ever set for myself. And I set that goal 5 years ago and never stopped working towards it. 

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