I’m just days away from making my second #ONEChampionship title defense, and even though I’m solely focused on Istela Nunes de Souza and fighting in front of the Singapore crowd, I’d never be here if it wasn’t for my experience in amateur MMA.
Growing up around martial arts my whole life, I really only had the idea to become a professional fighter when I was probably 16 or 17. That’s the first time that I knew that I wanted to do be a professional MMA fighter.
When my brother Christian and I were still in high school, we had the opportunity to fly overseas and compete abroad. FILA was still hosting #amateur MMA and pankration tournaments, and we went to Greece and Croatia, where we won our world championships. But first we needed qualify, nationally, which we did when we competed in Vegas.
I still remember the tournament (it was only a couple years ago). It was probably one of the most fun times of my life, and that’s where everything changed.
Christian and I competed in the #pankration division and the MMA division. But, at the time we were just juniors, so of course the rules were modified. It was just a little taste of what competing on a world-class level would be like. That really opened our eyes up to the opportunities we have today.
As a teenager, it was amazing to go out and travel, to see the world, and meet people from different countries. I knew that this was something I wanted to continue doing, so the next step was to compete professionally.
Once I turned 18, I was getting amateur fights in Hawaii, preparing myself to go pro. It was a whirlwind of experience, and that’s kind of what led us to where we are today, about to main event a huge card in Singapore.