The world of Mixed Martial Arts is one of the greatest, if not thee greatest, thing I have ever stumbled upon. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, MMA spans entire spectrum of the emotional sphere of humanity. I’ve been here at Jeremy Horn’s gym in Salt Lake City, UT for almost four years now, a move I had made specifically to train with Gumby himself.
My journey starts at a ripe one to two years of age, my family was a large wrestling family in a very small town in rural Idaho. I actually don’t remember my first time stepping on a wrestling mat because I was so young; as far as I can remember I have always been a wrestler. I had and up and down career as a child (as most people do), I won a few state tournaments and also lost a few matches at local levels. At about my sophomore year of High School I discovered the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
It was the sixth season of reality TV show The Ultimate Fighter, Team Hughes vs. Team Serra. They were terrible, all of the fighters on that season were terrible. I remember being a 16 year old kid and thinking I was better than anyone on that show despite having never even heard the words Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai before (I was obviously very very wrong about being better than them but I was an arrogant teenager, who thought any martial art outside of wrestling was a waste of time). Ugh, The Ultimate Fighter, if you watch it today you know that show is on its 23rd season and they just keep dragging it on and on, it’s brutal.
After TUF 6 I decided to start training MMA after my high school wrestling practices. I found a local karate studio, Shito-Ryu, that had an after-hours MMA fight team, here my MMA journey starts at age 16. Fast forward to 18 year old Mitch, for my 18th birthday I went and visited a good friend up in Boise and while I was up there we started grappling as young kids do, I caught an elbow and had a nasty black eye when I came back home. I come home with this black eye, and my parents knew that because I was now 18 I was going to start fighting (they were strongly against it at the time), so they assumed I went up to Boise to have my first sanctioned Mixed Martial Arts fight. They were pissed, and not just a little pissed. I am sure in my very argumentative and confrontational ways (like most 18 year olds) I said some disrespectful things back to them and we were at each other’s throats for about a week. Eventually enough was enough for us and we both mutually decided it was time for me to move out. March 2009 with three months left of high school I am out of my parents’ house and on my own. One month later I have my actual first fight on April 25th, 2009, I won via first round KO over a man named Chris Schmid (I remember his name because I thought his name was Christmas).
It’s at this point I realize how much I love fighting. In the last two years I had become an extremely hardcore fan and knew the entire history of the sport dating back to UFC 1 in 1993. The karate studio I had been training at decided MMA was not a profitable venture and ended its fighting program. It’s now the summer of 2009 and I have graduated high school and am working a minimum wage full time job at a cabinetry shop. Being that I had to pay rent on a $7/hr wage I did not have any money to start training at one of the bigger gyms so I got together with my then girlfriend’s dad (who was a youth wrestling coach himself) and we set up a tiny gym in his garage. We named our fight team, Team Good Team, it consisted of me and yep just me. FACT Team Good Team never lost a fight, not one, I think I won three fights under that banner training only with my girlfriend’s dad and a former high school wrestling teammate from time to time. Well eventually I realized I needed to move on and start training with a bigger group of guys and made my way over to Team Apocalypse in Idaho Falls. To this day because of coaches Ken and Kenny Hensley Jiu-Jitsu is by far my favorite martial art. I trained there until 2011.
In 2011 I put my MMA career on hold, through an old friend I received a scholarship to go and wrestle in college for Concordia University, Nebraska. I wrestled one year of college and realized how much I missed Jiu-Jitsu and fighting, we had a coaching change at the college and I was honestly just over Nebraska, I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be anymore. This is when I decide to move to Utah to train with Jeremy Horn.
July fourth weekend 2012, I move to Utah to train with Jeremy Horn at Elite Performance to chase this dream of being a professional fighter. It’s all I really cared about at that point. I chose to train with Horn at that point because of the love of Jiu-Jitsu I had attained from my previous time at Team Apocalypse. For those of you who don’t know, Matt Hughes, Pat Miletich, Tim Sylvia, Robbie Lawler, Jens Pulver, Rich Franklin are all UFC champions who learned their Jiu-Jitsu from Jeremy Horn himself. Because of just a few years under Jeremy, my Jiu-Jitsu is actually better than my wrestling and I have been wrestling my entire life. Half guard FTW.
My journey is far from over; I made the transition from amateur fighter to professional in 2013. I have a loyal fan base and love my day to day life as a fighter. It’s not all easy though, while being here at Horn’s I have tried to start my own cabinetry business and failed. I lived in a trailer in the mountains for nearly a year, I almost never do anything non-fight related in my personal life, my life IS fighting. Being a fighter is the greatest thing I could have ever hoped my life to be.