After picking up the win at Bellator 222 inside Madison Square Garden, Mike Kimbel recalled the high school teacher who said he’d never make a living in MMA.
New York, NY — Raise your hand if you’ve had someone tell you that you won’t achieve your dreams. Be it a teacher, parent, friend, all too often, those who should be supportive try to drag us down. It’s not always intentional, and often, it’s well-meaning. Maybe they just want to soften the blow if you don’t make it. But it’s always rewarding to see the naysayers put in their place. Mike Kimbel got to do that Saturday following Bellator 222, where he picked up his third win as a professional mixed martial artist.
The win, a split decision, came against fellow prospect Sebastian Ruiz, out of Peru. Kimbel, who told reporters including Cageside Press that he felt “a little disrespected to be honest with the split decision,” recalled the high school teacher who doubted his MMA dreams
“I’m telling you guys – you guys can believe me now, or you can look stupid later: I’m the future, I swear to God. I told my teacher, I’ll never forget. I did a Power Point in my AP History class. It was around the time where MMA was getting legalized [in New York]. It was real popular, you had great martial artists like Aljamain Sterling, Chris Weidman, when they were walking the streets for the petitions and stuff like that.”
Just before MMA was legalized in the state in 2016, in other words. Four years or so ago. “It was basically a Power Point on why MMA should be legal,” Kimbel recalled of the presentation. “My teacher stops me and he goes ‘this is what you’re going to do?'”
Kimbel told him it was. He was already competing in amateur kickboxing at the time. That brought him some popularity in the school, and he saw a future in the sport, clearly. The teacher however asked why he was going to make such a presentation. “Because I love to do it,” Kimbel answered. “He goes, ‘so you think you’re going to make a living off of this?'” Kimbel admitted that his teenage self “was a little blown away, but I was like ‘yeah.'”
His teacher then replied by saying that “your odds of making a living off of that and getting into these organizations are my odds of getting into the NFL next week.”
Being frank, Kimbel’s teacher miscalculated the odds of a teenage kickboxer making it in MMA versus the odds of a middle-aged educator making it into the NFL on a week’s notice. Grossly miscalculated them. Kimbel, however, simply promised that, with all due respect, he’d prove the teacher wrong. Now, with a win in the most historic combat sports venue in North America, he has.
“I said I’m going to do this, and I’m doing that at 22, on the biggest stage, with probably the most pressure that any 22-year old could go through,” Kimbel exclaimed. “Training with the stars. Following some of the biggest names in the sport. My second fight, I couldn’t believe I was doing an interview with Ariel Helwani.”
Kimbel used to ask why he deserved these things. But eventually he came to the answer. “I deserve this because I earned this. Nothing’s ever been handed to me. As a matter of fact, everything has been against me for a long time. As you can see, I go out there and I showcase a good display of skills, and they split decision me. I’m never going to get handed anything.”
Besides, said Kimbel, “I would’ve discredited my camp and all the people that put in these hard couple months with me by going out there and just smoking somebody in a couple seconds.” Well, maybe not, but at least he got to put on a longer show. “I wanted to go out there and just showcase a little bit of everything,” he said. “It was fun, you know. I hit him with a right hand, first clean right hand, boom, split him. I told him ‘you’re leaking,’ he spit blood at me. I was like ‘ref, he spit blood at me!’ Then he tried to two-piece me! I’m like ‘oh, alright.’ He said something slick in Spanish, and I told him to hold my nuts.”
“It was cool in there, I had fun in there, I felt like I was back in school.” The only thing missing was a doubting teacher. Who is probably not exactly missed.
.Watch the full post-fight press scrum with Mike Kimbel from Bellator 222 above!