Five years ago, I made one of the most important decisions in my life. I left my hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and moved to Phuket, Thailand to train at #TigerMuayThai.
Training in Thailand was a great experience; it’s where I met my wife, who is Australian, and a couple years later, we moved to Brisbane, where we live now.
Even though I do miss the food in the U.S. (Australians just don’t do good wings), I’ve embraced Australia, the country, the people, and the customs (I even eat vegemite on my toast), and I’m definitely convinced that moving abroad helped me get on the UFC’s radar before I was called up as a replacement fighter for the UFC Adelaide card in 2015.
While I was at Tiger Muay Thai, I met UFC veteran Brian Ebersole, another American who spent significant time in Australia and Asia.
Brian really helped me out in my career, not only with martial arts, but he helped connect me with the UFC; he really became my mentor down in Thailand. We still keep in touch to this day, so when I heard that he became the new head coach at #Evolve MMA in Singapore, I decided to do part of my current camp there.
I’m lucky to have me Brian because our lives have, coincidentally gone in similar directions, and just like him, I used my experience abroad wisely to propel my career.
Once I moved to Australia, I was able to get a lot of fights in a short period of time. I remember doing four fights in a span of four months. I guess everyone wants to see different cultures fight each other, so promoters came to me.
In America there’s just so many people that fight. I just feel like if you move somewhere a little more remote, like Australia, with a smaller population it’s easier to stand out a lot more.
In Australia, I was able to win the Nitro MMA bantamweight title. A lot of people saw that fight on Youtube after it went viral, and I think that helped propel me to the UFC but it wasn’t just the video that did it. It wasn’t just that one knockout that got me into the UFC, but more of just being in the right place at the right time, and it just so happened that Australia was the right place for me, and that pretty much started my whole career in the UFC.