Van in front of Grand Tetons

MMA; Only The Strong Survive

Jackson Nielsen

Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a sport not for the weak of heart and mind. Day after day, your friends go into the gym to put in blood and sweat so that when it comes time to step into the cage, there will be none of your own blood and sweat shed. Over the last year, I’ve been training nearly everyday so that I can make my MMA debut as a fighter; that day is almost here.

I began my MMA journey in May of 2023 when I first began working out at Kearney Combat Sports. Coming from a background in wrestling, I found specific areas to be relatively easy to develop. What I struggled with the most was the kickboxing aspect of the sport. But as the weeks progressed and I put in more and more work, I saw my striking improve faster than I could’ve hoped. The first time I sparred, I was a fish out of water, but through repeated rounds of getting punched and kicked, I saw my movements improve and my fight IQ begin to develop. To the point now where I can say I can stand and punch it out with anyone who stands across from me. But none of these skills would have been developed if it weren’t for the people around me.

Everyday I get to train with Jose Hernandez, a 4-1 pro fighter who has been in the fight game for a decade. He pushes me everyday with his hard-hitting, southpaw style. There is also Haydyn Premer, another southpaw fighter who employs a variety of kicks and strikes to pick apart his opponents. Then there’s also our coach, Richard Barajas. He is one of the best coaches in the fight industry right now. He tirelessly studies technique so that he can then teach us and he invests so much into his fight team that it makes you want to work your hardest under him. There are many others who have aided me on the road in becoming a fighter and next weekend I get to put my skills to the test in my MMA debut.