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Local MMA fighters compete at A Fighter's Ambition

By Taylor Mitchell
July 31, 2014 at 2:31 a.m.


Shark tank is more than just a glass case for sharks and a TV show featuring millionaire and billionaire investors.

It's part of a training regime - and a brutal one at that.

"I don't wish it upon anyone," Nathan Stansberry, 26, said.

In the shark tank, a fighter goes against an opponent for three to five minutes. Then, there's a minute break - just like in a real bout - before a new fighter is put into the ring.

And it keeps going and going.

"Pretty much, you're guaranteed to get your ass whooped," said Joseph Aguilar, head MMA trainer at Victoria Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. "It is to see when you're going to break. If you break in the fourth round, you're not ready. If you break in the fifth, you're ready."

But for Stansberry, Cody Barker and brothers Joe and Pete Herrera, it was all worth it. The four members of the Victoria Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy fought in Thursday night's ICON Sports presents: A Fighter's Ambition.

Barker, who first started in karate when he was 7 years old, won his first MMA bout after losing his first two in a split decision against Robert Buratti. The three judges all scored the bout 29-28, but two of the judges favored Barker over Buratti.

"It feels great," Barker said after celebrating the win. "I was nervous, but I knew I had controlled most of the fight. He may have gotten me a time or two, but I held my own."

Pete Herrera, 18, also competed in his first MMA bout Thursday night. But his fight ended much differently than those of his teammates.

Competing in the first fight of the night, Herrera squared off against Jesus Martinez.

The fight lasted just 1:50 into the first round, much of which took place on the mat.

"I wanted to stand up, but he wanted to go to the ground," Herrera, who got into MMA fighting two years ago, said. "So, we went to the ground."

Herrera seemed to land the most punches and kicks, but the fight was declared a no-decision after Martinez's right eye was swollen shut.

"It didn't go my way, but accidents happen," Herrera said. "I wish it could've kept going."

All four members of the Victoria Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy trained for over a month with Aguilar and other coaches at the academy.

"It was awful. Training was awful," Stansberry said. "We pretty much killed each other for six days out of the week to get ready for this fight."

"Believe me, there have been times where everyone of them has been nearly knocked out by me personally," Aguilar said. "They've been putting in the work."

While the training prepared the fighters for their bouts, it also brought them closer together as teammates and friends.

"They've put in a lot of hard work," Joe Herrera said. "They're my brothers."

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