I grew up fast and got my black belt when I was young, so finding fights as an amateur was pretty difficult.
Studying #BJJ under Wellington “Megaton” Diaz was a great honor; he’s a legend of the sport. But looking back on my career, I realize that excelling in jiu-jitsu may have stalled my MMA aspirations.
I literally had dozens of fights back out when I was an #amateur. No one wanted to fight me because of my ground game. Finally, I decided to go pro because I figured it would be easier to get fights. That wasn’t the case.
Multiple times, guys backed out because I was a black belt and I was submitting everybody at jiu-jitsu tournaments. Actually, for my first two professional MMA fights, I had to give my opponents half of my purse just to fight me.
Honestly, I almost just gave up on MMA and just started to do jiu-jitsu. Fortunately, my training partner, Dave Jansen, put the good word in for me at Bellator, and they signed me when I was only 2-0. Bellator put their trust in me and opened my eyes up; they gave me a new shot at this whole MMA thing, and luckily they did.
I still love jiu-jitsu, and hopefully Bellator and I can find some solution that will allow me to compete in BJJ tournaments once in awhile, but right now, I’m focused on #BellatorNYC, Michael Chandler, and winning the lightweight title on June 24.