Professional mixed martial arts fighter Jonny Wester looks to continue his success in the ring with a bout on March 1 in Bentonville.
Wester said this will be his first fight in his hometown and that he has been training hard. He now lives in Conway and is the co-owner of a gym.
The 26-year-old fighter is 14-4 in his amateur career and 3-1 as a professional. He said he has no distinct background in fighting.
"I have no martial arts background whatsoever," he said. "I did wrestling for one year in high school and was awful at it, then I was a musician when I got out of high school and played music for a living. I moved out to California and a bunch of my friends took me into a Muy Thai gym and that’s kind of where I picked it up."
He said that because of this, he is most successful at Muy Thai and kickboxing in the stand-up game. He said he likes to try to be well-rounded on Jiu Jitsu and wrestling.
Wester has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has competed in the International Kickboxing Federation for the World Muy Thai Title.
He said he has motivation and influence from a few different people.
"I went to Minnesota awhile back and I trained with a UFC fighter named Pat Barry," he said. "He was one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. He really inspired me to just continue being positive."
He said this contrasts many fighters who take on a negative persona to mesh with the bad-boy reputation that is mixed martial arts. He also said Marcelo Garcia in New York influenced him through his style of grappling.
In order to pursue a career in mixed martial arts, Wester has suffered some financial woes. He lost his car and has been living with the co-owner of their gym, Daniel Trimble. Wester said the gym is successful, so it’s all worth it to him. He said he doesn’t feel like his story is any different from sacrificing to go to college.
Wester joined Trimble to open a gym in downtown Conway called Gravitas Martial Arts. The gym has been open for five months. Wester said meeting Trimble and opening the gym was serendipitous.
"Daniel came to Inferno, my gym in Bentonville," he said. "We didn’t even really hang out and talk that much until we went to Brazil. I chew gum like crazy, and he always had gum and so I was like, ‘hey man can I have some gum?’ We were the ones that wanted to go do something. We spent a lot of time walking around town and exploring and that’s how we got to know each other."
Wester said the group went to a gym in Rio De Janiero to train. He said that in the United States, one is lucky to be on the same mat as one black belt. But, in Brazil, at the time, there were 15 black belts on the mat. One notable name on the mat was UFC’s Jose Aldo.
Wester said Trimble asked him if he wanted to open a gym while Wester was on his way to a tournament in Memphis. Wester said he was excited about it and they got everything set up. He said the mats came in early and they opened earlier than expected.
Trimble said his roles at the gym vary.
"I focus mostly on grappling," he said. "I teach a couple of grappling classes. Jonny teaches all of it. I try to focus more on financial stuff I guess and how that’s all going down. He’s really the head coach I would say."
Wester said the two complement each other through their fighting styles. He said Trimble is great at grappling and is more submission-oriented while Wester focuses more on the stand-up game.
Trimble began mixed martial arts to lose weight after graduating at the top of his class, magna cum laude, at Arkansas-Little Rock. He lost 110 pounds in doing so and found a love for the sport. He has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has been successful in grappling tournaments. He has a local grappling tournament coming up in February.
More information on the gym can be found at www.gravitasmma.com.