As visitors drive down State Route 28 and enter Manassas Park, it’s hard to miss the welcome sign that announces that you're entering a wrestling mecca.
The Cougars have 11 state championships. The list of individual Cougar champs is longer than your arm, so there should be little surprise that competitive and talented former Cougar athletes are finding their way to the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), and looking to extend their honors in the ring or cage.
Brett Jenkins, a two-time state wrestling champ from Manassas Park will do just that this coming Saturday at Lights Out Combat in Marshall, Va.
Jenkins began wrestling at age 6. He wrestled at Bull Run Middle School in Prince William County and went on to compete at Manassas Park High School where he won state championships in 1999 and 2000.
Jenkins now trains with Johnny Curtis, an All-American wrestler out of George Mason University. Curtis has taken his wrestling base to mixed-martial arts and has competed in the Ultimate Warrior Challenge and M-1 Global as a professional mixed martial artist. Curtis currently is on a six-fight win streak and defeated Bob Gurley with a vicious body shot in March in M-1, an international MMA promotion with a TV deal with Showtime, held in Norfolk.
"I train wrestling, stand-up, kick-boxing and ground and pound with Johnny and I feel like I’m in the best condition of my life. It’s time to take my training seriously and see if I can succeed in MMA.” Jenkins said, “The end goal is to go professional.”
Jenkins had his first fight last May and has competed in the Copa Nova Grappling Championships where he’s gone 4-0.
This Saturday in his second amateur MMA match, he faces David Oversteet, who he knows little about.
“I’m told he’s a stand-up guy. Sometimes it’s good to know nothing about your opponent, so you can prepare for everything," he said. "I’m ready for an early blitz.” Early blitz is a sports term for coming on strong right at the start of a match to surprise one's opponent. It's a reference to the German strategy of Blitzkrieg in World War II and is mostly used in combat sports and football.
Jenkins faced an early blitz in his first match at Xtreme Cage Rage, but he quickly returned fire, got his opponent’s back and ended the fight with a rear naked choke at 1:24 in the first round.
Not everything has been that easy for Brett as he transitions to fighting. He’s already had to cancel a fight for next month. “I had to cancel a fight I had planned in August because of a conflict with my daughter's birthday," he said. "The fight with my wife would have been worse than anything I might of faced in the cage.”
Lights Out Combat happens this Saturday, at Marshall Community Center in Marshall, VA. Doors open at 6 p.m. Pre-sale tickets are available now by calling Jamie Clegg at 540-229-8918 or Ronnie Rodriguez at 703-906-0985 to purchase your tickets in advance. The card features Bryan Robey of Gold Medal Grappling in a 135-pound title fight as well as 16 other amateur men's and women's bouts.