Dustin Ortiz began laying the groundwork for a professional mixed martial arts career as a young child.
He just didn’t know it at the time.
Growing up in Goshen as the fourth of eight children, Ortiz was always running through the streets, climbing trees or riding his bike.
“I was active as can be,” says Ortiz, who is now 23 and known for his non-stop aggressiveness as a grappler and striker in the MMA octagon. “I don’t let people pick me apart. I’m good at everything and very able to put everything together at a fast pace.”
Ortiz, using his strength, wrestling moves and cardiovascular superiority, is hard to handle and is able to scramble.
After attending Parkside Elementary in Goshen, Ortiz moved with his father, Judah Smith, to Franklin, Tenn., just outside Nashville.
There, the youngster was drawn to the rough and competitive world of wrestling and was dominant on the mat in middle school and high school (he did attend Goshen Middle School as an eighth grader and was unbeaten as a wrestler and comes back to Goshen to visit mother Lisa Ortiz).
MMA success also came quick to Ortiz. He won his first fight and soon drew sponsorships as an amateur.
“I quit my job to train full-time and I never looked back,” says Ortiz, who had considered following in his big brother’s footsteps to the U.S. Navy.
With the extra time working on his fitness and his technique, Ortiz swiftly got even better.
After turning pro in 2010, Ortiz won his first seven bouts — the first four by submission and the next three by technical knockout. The 5-foot-4 dreadlock-rocking flyweight (125-pounder) now stands 9-2.
Ortiz honed his contact combat sport craft at places like Nashville MMA. Wanting to improve his stand-up, Ortiz recently moved from Tennessee to Wisconsin to train at the Roufusport MMA Academy in Milwaukee.
As is the case with many MMA fighters, Ortiz leads a life that revolves around the sport.
He trains six or seven days a week.
A typical weekday begins around 10 a.m. with a session of stretching and then a morning Jiu-Jitsu class and two hours of intense pro fighter training. That is followed by an hour of teaching Jiu-Jitsu to kids. Then it’s home for a workout of push-ups, pull-ups and other body-weight exercises.
For spending money, Ortiz has a part-time job as a carpet cleaner. After that, he might go for a 3-mile run. Then he is up until the wee hours on the computer, keeping in touch with his fans through social media. His website is dustinortizmma.com and the webmaster is in Tennessee. Ortiz tends to his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts himself — all under the handle of dustinortizmma.
“I want to stay fresh in people’s minds,” says Ortiz. “I enjoy it. But it’s hard to do by myself. I’m not going to lie. You want to be yourself and still be likeable. That’s how you get sponsored.”
On Saturdays, Ortiz puts in one or two workouts and sometimes teaches lessons.
On Sundays, Ortiz relaxes or picks up cleaning jobs.
Steve Krah can also be found at www.facebook.com/SteveKrahTheElkhartTruth and http://blogs.etruth.com/season-tickets/