Justin Ford: Wise Beyond His Years

nor cal 2 3Lumbering around Urban Sprawl Fitness with arms like muscular pool noodles and legs like the trunks of redwoods, Justin Ford (4-3), as an amateur, possesses the maturity of a seasoned vet. More often than not, amateurs use a championship at their level as a golden ticket into the professional ranks. On May 21, 2016, Ford will be afforded an opportunity to collect his first belt in the second edition of Nor Cal Fight Series (Nor Cal FS), an MMA promotion featuring promising amateurs within striking distance of the Northern California region, but his stay as an ammy won’t be temporary. In a deep, deliberate tone, Ford, unwilling to rush his MMA career, outlined why he will maintain his C.A.M.O (California Mixed Martial Arts Organization, Inc.) registration after defeating Geoffrey Stovall at Nor Cal FS 2.

Ford would freely admit: his present-day, Zen-like state wasn’t innate. Surprisingly enough, hostility tangled Ford’s psyche as a youth, hence stalling forward progress. An introduction into the world of fighting allowed him to press the accelerator without flooding the engine:

“I got started in fighting because I always was angry as a kid, and it was always something I wanted to do. Then, once I started training, I was hooked.”

Ford’s uncle assessed the youngster’s readiness to compete in a sport designed to incorporatejustin ford 4 equal parts physical and mental strength using a splintered version of Mr. Miyagi’s ‘wax on, wax off.’ Ford shared,

“It was the end of my seventh grade year and beginning of eighth grade. My uncle was doing a job with Dave Huckaba, a local heavyweight here in Sacramento. I had been telling him, ‘I want to train; I want to train.’ He goes, ‘I know this guy. We can go to his gym. I’ll start getting you ready.’” Unsure what his uncle had in store, Ford cocked an eyebrow to project his uncertainty before continuing, “I was like, ‘How are you going to get me ready?’” The answer arrived several days later, “He comes home one day with a trailer full of wood, and we live up a bunch of stairs. I’m lugging the wood up, and when I get done, he says, ‘Good. We’ll get back to it tomorrow.’” Ford’s mirrors must have been broken because the object of training wasn’t closer than it appeared, “I’m thinking, ‘Yeah! We’re going to get to go to the gym.’ My uncle comes back the next day with another trailer full of wood, and I think, ‘Shit. Here we go again.’ I did it, finally got it done, and I was able to go to Huckaba’s gym.”

Though Ford left the gym bruised and battered on a daily basis, he was always hungry to return for more. Of all the combinations absorbed, the hard knocks of life hit him with a dazing dose of reality when he learned he’d be a father when most kids are receiving a driver’s license:

“I had a kid at sixteen. Life was pushing me down and the odds were stacked against me, being a young dad. I just decided to put my daughter on my back and keep pushing.” Much like in fights, life can change directions fast, “I was going to go that summer and look at a few college campuses. Once I found out I was having a daughter, I was like, ‘Oh, looks like I need to start working.’ I started putting money away to provide for her, and I still have that drive today. I take care of her by myself, and that’s really my motivation for living, really.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 7.42.01 AMThe layering of fatherhood and Huckaba’s gym closing its doors never stopped Ford from honing his craft in the fight game. Thomas Fallon, who now coaches striking at MMAGOLD, worked closely with Ford back then, and the two resembled gymless gypsies in search for space to practice,

“I was just training with Thomas Fallon where we could: 24, parks, running at ARC [American River College].”

Racing as the tortoise toward MMA glory, Ford’s displaced training wouldn’t prevent him from medaling, except, striving to excel, he wanted to ensure he’d be primed for gold. Ford vividly recalled the day, a couple years ago, when he joined forces with MMAGOLD, a young fight team out of El Dorado Hills who is leaving their mark on the MMA scene,

“One day Thomas gave me a call and said, ‘Hey, you’ve been invited out to MMAGOLD.’ I had heard a lot of good things about them, and I knew a few of the guys.” Ford went on to detail what truly sold his commitment to the team, “I came up here, saw the facility, and my jaw just dropped. I’ve never seen such a nice facility, and that’s when they were just getting started here at Urban Sprawl Fitness.”

Since nestling under the MMAGOLD banner, Ford asserted his growth as a mixed martial justin ford feature picartist has been exponential,

“It [MMAGOLD] has definitely made my game more well-rounded, and I’m just more comfortable now, wherever the fight goes. Now, I’ll shoot for a takedown; I’ll throw that head kick, get taken down, and get back up. Those are the tools I now have.”

Currently brimming with confidence in a 6’4″ frame, Ford anticipates his shift to the pros will best coincide with another year of development and a celebratory drink,

“I’d like to go pro sometime next year. Twenty-one is a good age to go pro. Now that I’m kind of figuring out the business side of MMA, I think that’s the next step for me.”

On May 21st, Ford intends on revving up his engine and the crowd as the co-main event at Nor Cal FS 2, pushing his win-streak to three in a row and hoisting the Nor Cal FS light heavyweight belt above his head after defeating Stovall,

“I’ve worked too hard to not go in there and try to finish. That’s what people want to see. They don’t want to see a boring fight. Get in, get out, and take that belt home.”

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