For most people, being thrown head over heels, taking a few strikes to the chin or having a man choking you senseless doesn’t sound like that much fun.
For Louisa native Chris Rollins, it’s just another day at the office.
That’s because for the last 18 months, the 24-year-old Rollins has taken up the sport of mixed martial arts, training five to six days a week in the dark, confined gym behind Louisa TrueValue, in hopes of one day turning his arduous hobby into a profession.
“I’ve always watched it and been a fan of it,” Rollins said while taking a break in between drills last Thursday. “I found this gym two years ago, started training, and ever since then I’ve been in love with the sport. I love the competition.”
“To do this sport, you gotta be stubborn,” adds his coach, Mike Stanley. “You’ve got to be a little bit crazy.”
Though an all-around athlete in high school – Rollins played football and basketball before graduating in 2007 from Orange County High School – he had no previous experience in wrestling, much less mixed martial arts prior to first joining the gym in the summer of 2012. Stumbling into the training center after seeing a flyer around town, Rollins said he originally saw the sport as a way to stay in shape.
As an MMA trainer of six years, Stanley said he wasn’t convinced of Rollins’ dedication to the sport at first glance.
One punch from Stanley to Rollins’ liver changed all that. The resiliency, or altogether ignorance of pain, required by the sport had been unveiled.
“I watched him get down on the mat, get up, and still be willing to work hard,” Stanley said. “That’s when I knew we had gotten somebody good.”
“I had no skills,” Rollins admitted. “I was an athlete, but [Stanley] turned me into a fighter.”
To read the entire story, see the March 20 edition of The Central Virginian.