Meet MMA fighter Jamie Houston and his fists of fury. He's fighting in the Empire Fights MMA event at the Agricenter on July 28th. Here, he talks about why he started fighting, his worst injuries and what he's doing with the money he makes from ticket sales.
Why did you start doing MMA?
When I was younger, I saw UFC and got addicted to watching the fights as a fan. I've always been athletic, and when I had the opportunity, I did it.
I've never been to an MMA event. What could I expect as a first-time fan?
The atmosphere is full of excitement – you never know how it's going to go. Nothing is planned ahead and the fights can change in a second.
Are there rules? What are they?
You're not allowed to knee anyone in the groin, eye gouge or hit in the back of the head. In professional fights, each round is five minutes and fighters can throw knees and elbows to the head standing and on the ground. In amateur fights, rounds are three minutes, and knees and elbows to the head aren't allowed.
That sounds pretty dangerous. What kind of gear do you wear?
We wear 4 oz. gloves (regular boxing gloves are 10 oz.) with cut-out fingers, shorts, a cup and a mouthguard.
What's the worst injury you've had?
In my last amateur fight, I got caught with an elbow and had to have six stitches. I tore my meniscus in practice once. I've been very fortunate not to have anything more severe.
What's the MMA community like? Do you guys hang out after fights?
For the most part, everyone's pretty respectful and humble. We hang out after sometimes. A lot of people look at fighting as something you do because you're angry. I see it as pure competition. It has to be – you can't get mad and let your temper take over.
How long do you think you'll fight?
Not very much longer. I started my career late. I look a lot younger than I am (I'm 37), but internally, I can tell I'm getting older. I don't plan on doing more than another few years.
If someone wants to come see you fight, how could they get tickets?
I'm selling tickets myself and donating a percentage of the sales to send care packages to the military, and Empire fights is matching my donation. Anyone who wants tickets can contact me at (901) 652-3411.