UFC 295’s Joshua Van Carries His Street Fights Into the Cage

Josh Van
Josh Van Credit: Tapology

Some fighters enter the sport through wrestling; others through boxing. While some find the sport after leaving a team sport, Joshua Van found MMA after leaving street fighting.

As a child, Joshua Van’s family moved to the United States from Myanmar. He didn’t know anyone or the language, so he fell back on the only way he had to get people’s attention.

“I got to the United States when I was 12 and I didn’t know how to speak English, and I was a small kid,” Van said. “What ended up happening was going to school I got picked on and I had to defend myself. I kept fighting, and when you fight in school people go ‘oh, this kid has hands’ and stuff like that. So it got to the point where I enjoyed fighting because that’s the only way I could get people’s attention.”

However, while many young kids are getting in dust-ups at that age and just winging shots, Van was already a student of the game he knew nothing about. He’s watch videos and see boxers trying things he wasn’t familiar with and he’d then try to bring those to his game. He credits that process with how he took so quickly to MMA.

“If I saw somebody go southpaw, I’m a right-hander, but I’d go to somebody to fight and let me try my left side shit,” he said. “I’d try new stuff like that, even in the street fights. That’s why MMA is easier for me because of that street fighting experience.”

And thanks to a close friend’s suggestion, Van wound up finding the game that would become his profession. Some outside inspiration from the most famous fighter in the world at the time provided an additional push.

“I was always a street fighter,” he said. “When I was 16 or 17, one of my friends introduced me to MMA and watching Conor McGregor when he fought Floyd Mayweather. That’s when I first knew what MMA was.”

Now, roughly half a decade later, he finds himself already 1-0 in the biggest organization in the world. He’ll look to make that 2-0 this Saturday at UFC 295. He fights Kevin Borjas on the early prelim portion of the card starting at 6pm EST.

You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 28:58.