As the field of mixed martial arts continues to thrive throughout the world of sports, the development of quality talent becomes an ever present and increasingly valuable commodity. While that development takes place inside the blood and sweat-laden confines of the world’s gyms, it also lies in the hands of those with the capabilities of exposing this talent to the world. For MMA to continue its massive growth, it requires both competitors and the ability for an audience to get to know these competitors.
The search for such talent takes us to Las Vegas, N.V. Known as the headquarters for MMA’s most prominent fight organization, The Ultimate Fighting Championship, Las Vegas is also a hotbed for crafting some of the finest talent the world has to offer. Sin City, as people call it, has been known for producing such top athletes as Martin Kampmann, Gray Maynard, Michael Chandler and Forrest Griffin. While all these men have achieved an immense level of success, none of them grew up there. One such fighter who did is Jimmy Spicuzza.
Jimmy, who was actually born in Chicago, has called Las Vegas his home since he was six. He is a 28-year-old professional lightweight sporting a 2-0 record. A member of the acclaimed Drysdale Jiu Jitsu Academy, he blends exceptional grappling with solid striking skills in an explosive package that makes it a difficult task for the man standing across the cage from him. Spicuzza also splits some of his training time at Longevity Sports with his strength and conditioning coach Korey Goodwin and at Syndicate MMA to mix in some rounds of sparring.
Spicuzza’s competitive fire burned at an early age thanks in large part to his father, who the fighter grew increasingly fond of. That fondness, through a steady diet of Tae Kwon Do and team sports like basketball and track, developed as his father became more involved in his son’s athletic endeavors. “He was my coach on all my teams. We spent a lot of time together,” he said. He also credits his dad with teaching him life lessons and and the importance of strong values. His father had a particular way of educating him on all aspects of life that he, admittedly, didn’t respond well to when the fighter said, “He was very strict with me but he was teaching me things about life when he would make me do things and I didn’t even know it at the time.” Spicuzza cherished his time with his father and it came as a shock when he awoke one morning.
In the summer of his senior year of high school, Jimmy, then 17-years old, woke to a “worried/nervous” look on his father’s face. After the elder Spicuzza urged his wife to take him to the hospital, Jimmy waited in trepidation until his mom returned home with the last piece of news he had ever expected to hear. “She walked up to me, gave me a hug and said, ‘Your dad died,'” he said and added, “I remember screaming, walking down the hallway and punching a hole in the wall until my legs gave out. I was just there on my knees, on the ground crying.”
Responding in “anger and always looking for fights” as he put it, he soon found MMA as an outlet to help diffuse the storm raging inside him. He would train on and off but it wasn’t until he attended the fight of his friend’s brother, that he really decided this was something he wanted to do. Since that day more than four years ago, he hasn’t left the gym.
Jimmy uses the memory of his father as inspiration to be a better fighter and, more importantly, a better person. “It is a large part of what fuels me today. I don’t want to let anybody down and I feel like I can use that experience to be a better person,” he stated. Three of those poeple he doesn’t want to let down are his biggest support system, his mother and two sisters, who have even gone so far as promoting and selling tickets for many of his fights. Jimmy, armed with unconditional love and support, will look to keep his perfect record in tact.
The lightweight returns to the cage on Saturday, April 27 in the main event of WFC in Laughlin, N.V., when he battles pro boxing import Derek Hinkey in his MMA debut. As a guy who “isn’t comfortable with just doing it”, Jimmy says he has worked hard for this fight. When asked about his preparation for the boxer, he said, “I’m fortunate enough to have some of the best fighters in the world available to me. I’m prepared for this fight to go anywhere.” A supremely confident individual, he has seen enough adversity in his life that he believes there’s nothing to keep him from greatness.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter @JimmySpicuzza for updates on what he’s doing.
Check out the promo video for Jimmy’s upcoming fight at WFC in Laughlin.