The Comeback - 2005
From 1998 until 2001, I trained every day that I could and went to every Jiu Jitsu tournament. After training Jiu Jitsu less than 2 years, I took 2nd at the blue belt pan am games, losing to Joe D’arce (the D’arce choke) 2-0 in a field of 72 competitors. I fought in 8 mixed martial arts fights with no losses including 2 fights with UFC veterans.
In 2001, after 3 years of training, I was a purple belt and it was time to make a decision. Do I double down, work harder and try to make the UFC or get my brown belt or do I go back to school?
I had graduated in 1996 with a degree in chemical engineering from the Missouri Institute of Science and Technology. My senior thesis, “2-D and 3-D diffusion model for chlorine molecules onto hexagonal ice crystals in the stratosphere that lead to ozone destruction”. Yes, I’m a nerd.
Immediately after graduation, I sat for the GMAT, the Graduate Management Admissions Test. My plan was to go back to school for my MBA. After taking the test, the scores are good for 5 years. My scores were set to expire in 2001.
For me it was a simple decision. While I knew I was good enough to keep fighting and winning, I had to go back to school because there was no money in fighting in 2001 and it was always more of a hobby for me. Even in the UFC, guys were getting $1500 for their first fight.
So in 2001, I started my MBA. In 2003, halfway through my MBA, I quit my job at my engineering firm and started my own company, Camssco, Chemical and Mechanical Systems and Solutions Company. I was a manufacturer’s rep, and sold items to chemical plants in the area. I was personal training on the side to make money while my business developed.
As a personal trainer, I was in phenomenal shape. From 2001 until 2005, I hadn't competed at all except for 1 MMA fight I took on 1 week's notice without training. I trained jiu jitsu only intermittently in 4 years, making it in the gym maybe once a month. My jiu jitsu game had not advanced in 4 years. In spite of this, I decided to compete in the Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Nationals in the fall of 2005.
Not only did I win the Relson Nationals, I was not scored upon in 8 matches. I won the gi and no-gi divisions. I beat one of Relson’s black belts and got an invitation to the pro division at the 2006 Arnold Classic. After the victory, I was sitting next to Rodrigo and Relson came up to me and said, “you are awesome!”. Relson is a god in the Jiu Jitsu community and I couldn’t believe he had that opinion of me!
My performance and Relson's words in 2005 inspired me to focus on Jiu Jitsu, finish my training and get my black belt. North Broadway Jiu Jitsu was born one year later!
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