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On Marriage and Movement: The next step in my MMA career

Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you’ve found
You fool, it’s only moonlight
And if you stop to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
Better leave this dream alone
Try to find another
- Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs,” 1969

Despite occasionally getting to write about my fighting career or highlight my team mates, I am well aware that MMAmania is not my journal. I do my best to walk the line between offering unique input and keeping it professional. I don’t overestimate my modicum of Internet fame, nor is that something I’ve ever been all that interested in pursuing. Still, after eight years of writing about my fight career and engaging with the community about the topic, I do feel obligated to explain the life decisions that are leading to, at a minimum, a long layoff.

First, the fun stuff. Back in June, I married my best friend and longtime girlfriend, Jordan. Seeing as we already owned a condo, car, and two cats together, the marriage in itself involved no real change, but it’s a good starting point.

For the first few weeks of July, we were off in France eating pastries, scoping museums, and climbing cliffs.

While in the final few days of our honeymoon, we received some fairly huge news. For over a year, Jordan has been applying to various nursing programs in California, the last step in furthering her education. Her grades and test scores are stellar, but for those without a spare six-figures to commit to schooling, community programs are the way to go. Unfortunately, they’re also massively overwhelmed by the number of applicants and rely on lottery systems, thus the waiting.

Back at the start of 2022, Jordan applied to close to 20 schools, mostly in California. She wound up waitlisted on all of them, and while beaching on the Italian Riviera, we found out that her last, best hope had her on a waitlist as well. She did, however, get accepted into one out of state school ... the furthest one, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

That’s the short version of how Midnight Mania is once again on Eastern Time. Her program started last week and will last two years.

Nooga isn’t exactly an MMA hotbed, but I knew that when Jordan and I talked approved cities for her applications in the first place. I’m in talks to train a bit with a local gym and will be making trips back to Sacramento to help my friends with their camps, but on the whole, active competition is going to take a backseat in my life.

My feelings are mixed. I have lots of goals in MMA that are yet unaccomplished. More than fame (lol) or money (LOL), fighting has always been a way to test myself, to improve myself via struggle and effort. The challenge is the point, and I’m proud of some of what I’ve accomplished. It’s very difficult for me not to be around my teammates, many of whom are closer than family, offering whatever help I can manage.

I don’t really know how I’ll feel on the sidelines.

Still, prior to this sudden move, I was pretty deeply considering fighting once more in the fall, removing the bitingly bitter taste of my previous performance from my mouth, then moving on to new pursuits. Anyone who pays even the smallest bit of attention to this industry knows its f—ked, and it’s quite literally my job to pay attention.

There is also much to find exciting in not being an active pro fighter. I have a ton of general athletic goals I aim to pursue with my newfound freedom, like finally lifting four plates (415 pounds) on the trap bar deadlift and fixing my chronically immobile hips. Not owning a scale also sounds pretty cool. The wife is convinced MMA has given me a mild eating disorder, and I don’t entirely disagree.

Chattanooga made the approved list in the first place because it’s a stellar climbing city, occasionally proclaimed as the “Boulder [Colorado] of the South East.” I have a lot of goals in that realm too, and they’re going to be more in focus while I’m living in Tennessee.

At the end of the day, I take inspiration from people like my friend and team mate Mike Malott. “Proper” Mike retired from fighting at 26 to coach, changed his mind nearly three years later, and returned better than ever. Since returning to active competition, he’s scored three first-round finishes. The first earned him a shot on Contender Series, the second his UFC contract, and the third an additional “Performance of the Night” bonus in his debut.

Right or wrong, I still believe there is much more I can accomplish in fighting if so inclined. If no such desire to enter the fray exists in 2024, well, it’s for the best. MMA isn’t the realm to be half-committed.

To everyone who’s supported my journey, shown love online, or talked s—t in the comments, I appreciate you.

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