Spend less than a minute with REDLINE 155 Grand Prix competitor Dustin Center and you will find it is easy to write him off as a goof off or someone who doesn't take much serious in life or the sport of Mixed Martial Arts which he currently makes his profession. You watch the YOUTUBE videos of him swallowing an Orange whole, or his interview for this tournament and automatically assume there isn't much depth to his reasoning for fighting in the first place. 'What other options does he have?' Would probably be the first question you have. Spend longer than a minute, and you may change your perspective completely.
Growing up in Cincinnati, OH, Center lived a normal life with a conservative family who were opposed to violence of any sort. Fighting was against the rules in his household and watching it on TV was equally as prohibited. "I had a best friend I grew up with, we did everything together. We loved MMA and although we were never allowed to watch it, we would ride our bikes for miles to the video store to rent the old UFC's and sneak them back in the house to watch them in the basement." Tells Center.
The two friends were inseparable and started learning to wrestle and various techniques associated with what they had watched on the videos. Soon more people joined the viewing sessions and the pair began to build a 'Fight Club' type group of friends from school which would hold after school sparring sessions, boxing and even UFC stlye fights. "All day we would talk about which of our friends would make the best fights and then match them up. I have so many great memories of all of us."
The dreams continued until Center's junior year, when his best friend of many years abruptly passed away. The loss was devastating and left Center at a crossroads in his life and he had to decide his priorities. "Everyday we would say we were going to be fighters when we grew up. That one day we would be in the UFC. And then he no longer had that choice. But I did and I was grateful that I still had a chance and I decided to take it."
Center became a beast in Wrestling going on to become a four time All-American for Cumberland University. An accomplishment that put him in the top eight in the country four years in a row. He began training in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu for with some of the best in the world including former UFC fighter Jorge Gurgell. Knowing he would need to master all of his tools to make it in the big leagues, he moved to Thailand (the country of origin for Muay Thai Kickboxing) for a year and a half to work on his striking.
Now an assistant wrestling coach at Cumberland University, six years of BJJ and several years of Muay Thai, Dustin "Get-chu-sum" Center represents a new breed of well rounded fighters that feels completely comfortable in any direction to fight may go. Fighting for not about winning or losing to Center it is the competition that drives him.
"I dont fight because i am angry or because i was picked on as a child or because I want to be cool and be seen on a fight poster. I fight because I love the sport. People look at my interviews and don't take me serious because I am always clowning. I laugh at people trying to prove something. It is funny because, I am having fun when i am fighting and they just want to win. So when i feel the pain i want to fight more and when they feel the pain they want to give up. "
Center will be taking on Sergeant Kenny Jackson of Gainesville, GA on July 10 at Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga. They are competing for the Championship belt and a professional fight contract with SportFight X and to prove they are MMA's next break-out star.