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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Braving the cage


Pressure from his family halted his competition, but kinesiology junior Justin Reiswerg began training two months ago for his first fight in 18 months. | Lauren Mathis/The Daily Cougar

As a kid, Justin Reiswerg would watch fights with his dad. Three years ago, as a freshman, he began living out what he used to see on television, leading his family to cut him off for six months.

Despite all of his struggles, Reiswerg is still fighting and he says he’s more than ready to get into the ring.

“I feel great,” Reiswerg said. “I’ve had a great training camp with good training partners to help me prepare and I feel I possess the right set of skills to beat my opponent.”

Reiswerg, a kinesiology junior, will fight this Saturday for the Legacy Fighting Championship at the Houston arena.

Training for the past two months at Bam Bam Martial Arts in West University, Reiswerg has been mastering the many fighting techniques that it takes to be a cage fighter.

“Mixed martial arts is an accumulation of any fighting style that has ever been created,” Reiswerg said. “The most common and effective styles that have surfaced through the sport are Muay Thai, boxing, Jujitsu and wrestling.”

Due to the intensity of MMA, Reiswerg admits that it isn’t an easy sport.

“I’ve had a few sets of stitches, a broken finger, torn tendons and ligaments and who knows how many cuts and bruises,” Reiswerg said.

“I have never been injured during a fight. As with most fighters, injuries happen in the months of training that lead up to the event.”

Cuts and bruises are not the only things that MMA fighters have to take into consideration, Reiswerg said. It takes a certain type of person to become a cage fighter.

“You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of aspects of your life,” Reiswerg said. “We dedicate countless hours to becoming just a little better and more effective at our art.”

Because of this, he said, he has less time for friends, partying, social events and homework.

MMA fighters possess much of the same physical abilities as other athletes.

“Our bodies are constantly being pushed,” he said. “Cardio is key, and you have to have a balance of strength and speed; too much of one hinders you more than it helps.”

No matter how many challenges or stress his body is put through, Reiswerg’s dedication to MMA is something that has been in him since a child.

“I first got into it when my dad would sit me down on the couch when the UFC shows first started,” he said.

“I loved how the smaller guys could dominate over much larger and stronger people with the right techniques in their arsenal.”

Reiswerg took his passion for watching fights and got involved in them himself.

“I really got into it when I was a freshman,” he said. “I found a flier for an MMA school and I loved every second of it as I walked through the door.”

Though he enjoys mixed martial arts, certain members of his family haven’t agreed with his career path.

“This is my first fight back in 18 months because my family stopped my fighting,” Reiswerg said.

The first year he started fighting, nobody in his family knew. After he let them in on it, they cut him off.

“I had no money for school or fighting, so I put school aside and got a full-time job to support my fighting.”

After about six months of being on his own, his family decided to help him financially, as long as he kept his grades up and didn’t tell them when he was fighting.

With his fight only days away, Reiswerg plans to spend the day of the fight on a “chilled level,” he said.

“Around noon, I’ll do a training session for about an hour, just to get myself in that (fighter) mindset,” he said. “That way I don’t go into it cold turkey.

“After the session, I’ll usually call up one of my friends and just chill with them. I won’t think about fighting at all, I just want to act like it’s a normal day.

“Then, when it’s time to fight I go (to the arena) and I just sit down and let it kind of sink in; before you know it, I am in the cage and it’s go time.”


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