VALLEJO — Cousins Sonny Ramos and Brandon Umipig want their fighters to know that they can be nobody and there’s nothing wrong with that.
They said there’s a certain mentality in contact sports – whether it’s boxing, jujitsu or muay thai – that makes some fighters want to act tough, intimidating and all-that.
Ramos and Umipig said they don’t want their fighters to act that way. Most fighters who start mixed martial arts with a cocky attitude come out of training with a humble attitude.
The philosophy used by Ramos and Umipig for their mixed martial arts team, Nobody MMA, is that they are fighting for life. They’re not fighting for the fame, the glory or even the girls, nor are they just fighting for their next fight. They’re training to get through life, to stay physical, stay fit and stay motivated, Umipig said.
For more than a year now, Nobody MMA has offered this outlook on mixed martial arts at the Knuckle Up Training Center in Vallejo.
The sport itself is unique because not only is it relatively new, it’s ever-evolving, Ramos said. It varies around the world, but it California it is a combination of several contact sports and martial arts including wrestling, jujitsu, muay thai and boxing.
Ramos and Umipig said they used to train at a different Vallejo gym but moved to Knuckle Up because of differences in opinion.
“The heart wasn’t in it, the ‘ohana’,” Umipig said of his previous gym.
The duo found a home at Knuckle Up after owner A.J. Camarce gave them the opportunity to train. There, they developed their team’s name, “Nobody MMA.”
“Nobody MMA – it’s us wanting to be ourselves,” Ramos said. “We come out to fight because we have nothing to lose.”
Keeping pride in check is important for the fighters, said Umipig, especially as it gets closer to a fight.
Umipig, who is taking a break from fighting, recalled taking two or more months fully devoting himself to fight preparation.
“The closer it gets to a fight, the more raw it gets,” he said.
The experience of participating in a fight is an opportunity for some of the fighters to grow.
Adam Galiste, 23, came to the team about four years ago with only wrestling experience. His time wrestling in high school is nothing like his how he trains now.
“There’s such intensity,” Galiste said of mixed martial arts. “You really have to apply yourself. I push myself more than in high school.”
Galiste’s first fight was a nerve-wracking experience, he said, yet he came out of it more exhilarated than ever. Galiste said his first few fights weren’t great — his third fight was especially brutal — yet it didn’t shake him.
“I was getting pounded, but I still felt hyper,” he said. “You keep fighting, you keep learning.”
Nobody MMA’s young fighters aren’t easily deterred by a bad fight, either.
Nine-year-old Kainoa Medina is by far the team’s youngest fighter. Kainoa is already something of a “champion” — that is, he’s already won a “Warrior Champion” belt that’s as big as his body.
At barely 56 pounds, Kainoa is slightly overweight for his weight division, 55 pounds and under. He practices with the other adult fighters at Nobody MMA, most of who are at least twice his size.
His opponent’s size doesn’t deter him, Kainoa said.
Galiste, whose practiced with Kainoa many times, said the boy may be small, “but he’s fast. All of a sudden he has you in a choke.”
Umipig said that regardless of a fighter’s size, everybody can get taken down in mixed martial arts. The important thing is that the fighter learns something from the experience, he said.
“Getting your (butt) kicked constantly, it humbles you,” he said. “We’re just going to be nobodies . . . We prefer to be humble about our work.”
To learn more about Nobody MMA, visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/NobodyMMA.
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.