If my name doesn’t sound familiar to you yet, give me some time, you’ll get to know me soon enough.
My name is Mike Camp and I’m going to tell you about my journey from common UFC fan, to MMA businessman, to hopefully the pinnacle of the sport; a world title.
I better start at the beginning: I’m not sure exactly when I watched the very first UFC initially, but it was relatively soon after the event and I was hooked. It was like the Kumite in real life and I loved it.
I recall how my buddy Dave Stone and I would re-enact the tapes and try to learn the techniques. We eventually broke a window grappling in the house and my future wife, Laryssa, gave us an ultimatum that changed our lives from that point forward.
She told us that we had better find somewhere else to wrestle because it wasn’t happening in the house any further.
This is the point in my life where I looked up Pat Miletich in the local yellow pages and asked him if he offered training. Needless to say I was overjoyed when he told me that he did. Pat told Dave and I to come by the next day and check out a beginner’s class to see what we thought of it. That’s alI had to hear, we were at the front door of his “gym” the next day.
Like all great teams, Pat started from humble beginnings. He rented a racquetball court at a local health club and matted it up so he and his loyal brawlers could train. It was maybe 900 square feet, but we loved it. Pat told us the first month was free (to see if we liked it), that we needed a cup and mouthpiece and gave us a beginner’s class schedule.
We were hooked after the very first class where UFC veteran and genuine bad mofo Jeremy Horn showed us the ins and outs of the head/arm choke. You know,the same submission he handed an up and coming fighter by the name of Chuck Liddell his first professional defeat with? It was nothing short of awesome!
We were there as often as humanly possible following that lesson in humility.
Fast forward a couple of months and I’m facing a job transfer/promotion to Indianapolis, Indiana. I didn’t want to give up training in mixed martial arts so I asked Pat if he could refer me to anyone out where I had recently relocated, and he handily coughed up the contact information for Jason Godsey (UFC 19 & 22).
That was that, we moved to Indianapolis, Dave Stone in tow, and I contacted Godsey. He was super cool and gave us the address to where he was training…….. in his barn!
We had no heat and very little padding, but again, it was great. Chris Lytle rolled there, Alex Stiebling and Ian Freeman came by to roll from time to time. It goes without saying that we got beat up a lot. Whether I was catching a beatdown from some of the baddest dudes in the business or not, I enjoyed every minute of it, and was getting nothing but better because of it.
I was so hooked on the sport that I bought every PRIDE tape I could find, ordered every UFC I could, subscribed to FCFighter monthly and Ultimate Athlete.
By this time, I had asked Laryssa to marry me but was in no hurry to complete the job. Again, she forced my hand. She arranged for us to be wed in Vegas in the Octagon before UFC 36: Worlds Collide (appropriate title?).
It was a virtual who’s who of MMA. Pat was there, and even stood as my best man. John McCarthy initiated the ceremony with his trademark slogan,”Let’s get it on!”. Laryssa and I were the first, and as far as I know, the only couple to be wed in the UFC. Pretty freaking awesome right?
We ended up meeting countless people, and the whole experience was absolutely amazing outside of Pat’s loss to Matt Lindland, which definitely put a slight damper on things.
Little did I know that when I returned to Indianapolis my fandemonium would turn into a business career, but I’ll fill you in on that next week.
To be continued….