MENU
#UFC 217 #Conor McGregor #Michael Bisping #GSP #UFC Fight Night 55


joe-heiland.jpgWhen Joe Heiland finished his college wrestling career, becoming the first member of his small-town family to graduate from college, he knew he wanted to keep competing.

He was on his way to a rewarding career teaching kids with behavioral and other problems that kept them from regularly attending public schools. But he needed more than just a career to fill the need to battle with someone – something he learned when his father first taught him boxing moves at age 10 and continued with his NCAA Division III wrestling career.

He thought boxing might work. He had always been a hard puncher, and he had trained on and off for years. But he got a different suggestion.

“We went around to see some people and show them what I had,” Heiland told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “They basically said the same thing: ‘He hits hard, but with his wrestling background, why doesn’t he try MMA?’”

That soon became reality. Some seven years later, Heiland is 8-2-1 as a professional after an undefeated amateur career, and the lightweight will try to continue his momentum when he faces Augusta Tindall (3-2) at Ultimate Victory Challenge 23 on Friday in Columbus, Ohio. “The Ultimate Fighter 7? cast member Luke Zachrich (11-2) meets Marcus Finch (7-6) in the headliner.

Heiland has rebuilt some buzz after taking 18 months away from fighting between 2010 and 2012 to both tend to a newborn child and heal a foot injury he suffered during a fight. Since that break, the 31-year-old resident of the Cleveland area lost his Bellator debut (in a fight he feels he should have won) in April 2012 and won two straight.

With support from his family, his students and his close friend Brian Rogers, the Belltor vet with whom Heiland used to work at his school, he feels he’s ready to take another step with his re-emergence as a prospect.

“I honestly feel like a top 50 lightweight in the world,” he said. “I need to open up more people’s eyes.”

Small town, hard hitter

Heiland was raised in Shelby, a small Ohio town where his GM employee father and LPN mother built a life with three sons. His brothers gravitated more toward team sports, and while all the boys were athletically gifted, Heiland was drawn to more individual sports.

His father was a big fan of boxer Roberto Duran, and he had even done some sparring with gifted fighters in the past, so he thought the sport could be good for his youngest son. He showed Heiland some of the basics and found him some even more advanced training.

Heiland met and got to know a local professional fighter named Tony Hanshaw, whose father was the trainer at the gym. Hanshaw became a national Golden Gloves champion who beat Kelly Pavlik as an amateur and lost to Roy Jones Jr. by decision as a pro.

So even though Heiland was from a small town, there were strong athletes around. He found the same thing when he entered wrestling in the seventh grade.

Coaches wanted him to both wrestle and play football at Ohio’s Baldwin-Wallace College, but he chose to focus on wrestling. Even then, he had the itch to use his boxing skills.

“Sometimes I would lose, like I lost to an eventual national champion in double-overtime, and I would think, ‘If I could just punch this guy I could destroy him,’” Heiland said.

His physical education studies put him on a path toward teaching, but when he graduated, his athletic path went away from boxing in a ring to competing in MMA. The challenge for him, as it remains, was balance.

Teacher, father, husband, fighter

Heiland trained in MMA for just three months before he took his first amateur fight. He felt strongly enough about his wrestling experience and his boxing background that he could get by in the sport from the start.

Within a year, he was 7-0 as an amateur, underlining his quick learning. He made his professional debut in June 2007, starting his career with five straight victories.

Meanwhile, he was building his other career. For the past eight years, Heiland has worked at a school for kids who have issues that cause them to be transferred out of public schools. It’s a demanding job, but one he loves.

“A lot of them get in trouble in public school or have something else going on,” he said. “We try to prepare them to keep going in their education or get them ready for the real world. They know I fight, so a lot of them look up to me.”

The same was the case with Rogers. Heiland knew Rogers from the region’s training circles, and he invited Rogers to come work at the same school. The two became closer as their careers progressed.

For Heiland, that meant a 6-1-1 record after a Bobish’s Ultimate Cage Battles victory in October 2010. A foot injury and a coming baby caused him to remove himself from fighting for awhile. When he returned, he lost by first-round submission to Julian Lane at Bellator 66.

“I got stuck, like anyone can,” he said. “It’s a loss that I should’ve won 99 out of 100 times, but that can happen.”

He has since won two straight, giving him momentum heading into Friday’s fight. He sees it as a chance to show he’s in top form and ready to handle a bigger promotion.

“I’m back in the gym six days a week, and I know what I’m capable of,” he said. “I’m ready to prove it now that I have the time to do it.”

Award-winning newspaper reporter Kyle Nagel pens “Fight Path” each week. The column focuses on the circumstances that led fighters to a profession in MMA. Know a fighter with an interesting story? Email us at news [at] mmajunkie.com.

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Comments

Show Comments

Related News

Sage Northcutt focused solely on UFC career with college no longer holding him back

  • 11 days ago
  • 13 views

21-year-old Sage Northcutt is ready to get serious about MMA with a little help from Team Alpha Male as he moves past UFC-Norfolk.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Michael Bisping Replaces Anderson Silva at UFC Shanghai After Failed Drug Test

  • 11 days ago
  • 2 views

Michael Bisping suffered one of the toughest losses of his UFC career at UFC 217, dropping the middleweight championship to Georges St-Pierre after getting choked out cold. So how is the Brit recover read news >>

Former WWE Champion Jack Swagger Signs Bellator Contract

  • 9 days ago
  • 1 views

Former WWE star Jack Swagger will try to reinvent himself with a new career in MMA after signing a contract with Bellator, according to Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting. The 35-year-old, whose real name read news >>

Alexander Volkanovski gets third different opponent for UFC Fight Night 121

  • 8 days ago
  • 14 views

The UFC found a way to keep Alexander Volkanovski on UFC Fight Night 121.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Aljamain Sterling gets Marlon Moraes as UFC-Fresno replacement opponent

  • 5 days ago
  • 9 views

Aljamain Sterling has been in need of a replacement opponent, and he’s found one in Marlon Moraes.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Bellator 188 highlights: John Salter is really on a roll

  • 5 days ago
  • 26 views

John Salter’s career resurgence continued at Friday’s Bellator 188 event.Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos read news >>

Francis Ngannou's motivation goes deeper than MMA ahead of UFC 218 fight vs. Alistair Overeem

  • 2 days ago
  • 21 views

The biggest fight of Francis Ngannou’s young career is right around the corner against Alistair Overeem at UFC 218.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Shinya Aoki Thinks Going an Entire Career Undefeated Would be Dull | MMAWeekly.com

  • 2 days ago
  • 12 views

Shinya Aoki has won lots of fights. He's lost a few too, and the 34 year old former ONE lightweight champion thinks this might be part of his appeal, "If you always win that must be no fun. I think t read news >>

Joanna Jedrzejczyk Admits Moving to Flyweight Would Be ‘the Biggest Challenge in My Fighting Career’

  • 23 days ago
  • 12 views

Joanna Jedrzejczyk still has some work to do at strawweight before she decides whether or not to move to 125 pounds. read news >>

Saad Awad looking for more respect after 15th Bellator fight, knockout of Freeman

  • 17 days ago
  • 6 views

Fifteen fights into his Bellator career, lightweight Saad Awad has grown a little tired of being just another fighter. Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos read news >>