Being a Mormon in MMA is a funny thing. I am in a world of constant misconceptions from both members of the church and my fellow mixed martial artists. The misconceptions from MMA fighters are usually the normal Mormon stereotypes:
- How many wives? And how many kids? 1 wife, she is fantastic and 2 kids with hopes of one more maybe 2.
- Why do you worship a guy named Joe Smith? We don’t we worship God and Jesus Christ
- Are you in a cult? No
- Did you ride bikes and knock on doors for 2 years? You bet, I served a mission in Western New York
From members of the church the questions are more like the following. How can I be Mormon and be ok with causing harm to a fellow child of God? How can you live the gospel when everyday I am training to take another man’s consciousness? How can you be active when you surround yourself with roughnecks who relish in violence?
The question I never get but wish I would is why I fight? I get asked many times why followed by some statement with a hint of disgust but never just simply asking why I fight?
Simply put I love it. Every aspect of mixed martial arts I love. I enjoy the strategy, the adrenaline, the competition and I love the emotions that come from winning and losing. The pain from hard fought rounds where the next several days it hurts to sneeze let alone laugh. Last the thing that I love about MMA is the relationships I have formed with so many people who are WAY different than I am. It is crazy that trying to hurt someone creates a relationship that is deeper than most.
Yes I am a little bit crazy (but so is anyone who has a big dream) and yes I don’t mind the violence. Yes I am rough around the edges especially with my language. However, my heart is in the right place and MMA has helped me be more disciplined in staying on the straight and narrow.
As a Latter Day Saint, “we hope to be able to endure all things…if there is anything of good report or praiseworthy we seek after these things .” I am seeking after something I have defined as praiseworthy I am on a quest to show that you can be a great person and great fighter. My hope is through my journey I can be a light and example to others.
I like to look to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example. When he preached the gospel he did not care about people’s’ background. Christ loved everyone no matter what they did. What a great opportunity I have to follow in the footsteps of Christ and surround myself with my brethren of different faith than mine and be a light and example of my faith. We believe “to be in the world but not of the world” and that is exactly what I get to do in MMA.
There have been many great Followers of Christ who have been on similar journeys and been able to help countless people. My hope is that during my journey in mixed martial arts the Lord can call me to the same.
That is why I fight.
One thought on “Being Mormon and an MMA fighter”
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was “We are not asked to surrender our individuality to live the Gospel.” Your story is a prime example of that idea, and to paraphrase a favorite quote, your light will allow others’ lights to shine all the brighter. Best of luck in the future (May 10th!)