Losing weight, gaining dreams: How Mike Breeden’s transformation turned into an MMA career

If Mike Breeden wasn’t a fighter, there’s no question what he’d be doing instead.

Breeden’s family is in the restaurant business. Growing up, all signs pointed to Breeden being the next member of the bloodline to follow suit.

“(My family) is either running a restaurant or they own their own restaurant,” Breeden recently told MMA Junkie. “I’d probably be doing that and I’d still be pretty hefty.”

During his youth, Breeden didn’t have any interest in pursuing MMA greatness – or any athletic greatness for that matter. He was content doing his own thing.

“As a kid, I really didn’t have any desire to become a fighter,” Breeden said. “I watched old kung fu movies and I’d play around with my friends and stuff. I had no desire to become a fighter.”

How hefty was Breeden? Breeden, who is currently listed as being 5-foot-11, estimates he weighed upward of 265 pounds around the time of his high school graduation.

Through his high school days, it seemed like Breeden would be going down that path – until his uncle suggested he try martial arts. Breeden said he initially voiced his interest, but like many other potential hobbies he stumbled across, he didn’t have the get-up-and-go to turn words into actions.

“I just really didn’t enjoy working out,” Breeden said. “You couldn’t get me to run. You couldn’t get me to lift. You couldn’t get me to do anything if it didn’t have to do with food.”

Seeing his nephew’s lack of action, Breeden’s uncle dragged him into the gym. The rest was history, to which Breeden says he owes his uncle a lot. From the time he signed up for classes, Breeden focused on physical wellbeing and self-improvement – a rare occurrence at that point.

As Breeden grew as a fighter, he slimmed down in weight. After one year of training, Breeden estimates he lost about 100 pounds. The tremendous weight loss is unusual by pretty much every standard. Breeden thanks his coach, whose unorthodox methods “tricked” him into slimming down.

“How (the weight) came off was that my coach kept tricking me,” Breeden said. “He was like, ‘Hey, you want to fight?’ I’m like, ‘Sure, I think I’ll be pretty good at it.’ At this point I was in the low 200s. ‘OK, we’ll go 185. We’ll schedule your first fight (at middleweight).’ I got to 185 and then after that, I’m like, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s start looking for another one.’ He’s like, ‘We can get you down lower.’ Then, I got to 170. He’s like, ‘Nope.’

“Then, I got to 155 – and again, he’s like, ‘Nope.’ At this point, I was like, ‘Nah, nah, nah, nah. I’ve been at this for so long, I need something to reward myself for all the hard work.’ 155 is where I ended up starting my (pro) career. He just kind of tricked me into it, I guess.”

It all seems to have happened so quickly. When Breeden, now a 155-pound fighter with an 8-2 pro record, takes a step back and reflects, he’s blown away. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, Breeden is astounded by the improvements he’s made.

“I still can’t believe it because of the mindset I had back then,” Breeden said. “I was just happy with being big. I found something I enjoyed doing and I fell in love with: the art of MMA. When you enjoy doing something, it’s pretty easy to get the weight off when you stay active doing your workouts.

“… It’s so much better. I’m just way healthier.”

While he’s winning his battle to maintain a healthy lifestyle, he hasn’t won the war. Temptations to eat tasty foods still exist – as does his loving family, who is always looking out for his tastebuds.

“(Even now,) it’s still a struggle,” Breeden said. “It’s tough. Everybody in my family is in the restaurant business. Any time I’m around them, they’re trying to feed me, ‘Oh, you’re too skinny. Let’s eat. Let’s eat.’”

On Tuesday, Breeden will fight for a UFC contract when he takes on Anthony Romero (7-0) at DWCS 30 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Having endured the long journey up until this moment, Breeden understands the importance of capitalizing. His dream is one impressive win away.

“It would mean everything – all the hard work over the past 10 years is paying off,” Breeden said. “I’m showing everyone that everything is possible if you stay on your grind day in and day out. You can accomplish anything.”

Inspiring others isn’t what Breeden set out to do when he got off the couch and into the gym over a decade ago. However, now that the platform is there, he’s willing to be someone others look up to. It’s all about finding what works for each individual.

“With dedication, anything is possible,” Breeden said. “We’ve just got to find whatever works for them. Not everybody’s journey is the same. Some people can get up, head to the gym, and lift some weights. They get like a runner’s high. I just had to find what got me going and it was martial arts. It could be boxing (or) kickboxing – even lifting weights.

“You’ve just got to find the one thing you truly enjoy doing that helps you relieve stress and makes you happy. Everything will take care of itself.”

Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/08/mike-breeden-weight-loss-transformation-mma-career-ufc-dana-white-contender-series

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