For UFC Fighter Jamie Varner; Those Who Can, Teach

Every fighter in the UFC has a passion in learning mixed martial arts and applying it onto each other’s faces. But Jamie Varner’s true passion is coaching. So when he’s not tearing down his opponents in the Octagon, he’s in Scottsdale building up his clients in his personally owned MMA gym called Impact MMA.

Varner became the fighter and the coach he is today right here in the Valley of the Sun, where he accounts the climate to be a great way to make or break any fighter.

“The heat melts chocolate but hardens steel.” Varner said. “The heat can mentally break some people. I embrace the heat, I like it and I feel it’s definitely made me a tougher, stronger person.”

Training in the desert dry heat is a great way for fighters to build a good cardio base and stamina, which is very important in fights that last multiple rounds. And as Varner would tell you, losing your stamina during the fight is the worst felling ever.

“When that happens it’s a miserable scary feeling because you’re pretty much helpless, he said.”

While he waits for his next fight, Varner trains himself and others in his Scottsdale gym, Impact MMA. His training as a fighter is universal for any athlete’s training regimen.

“I’m a firm believer in the core lifts,” Varner said. “I like squats, dead lifts and power cleans. I feel like those are the most important lifts when it comes to being an athlete and an explosive fighter.”

How Varner got to this point is very interesting. His path to the Octagon began on the diamond when he was a young kid playing baseball. Varner was first introduced to boxing at the age of 11 because the hand-eye coordination and hand speed needed for boxing was essential for baseball as well.

“That’s why I did it,” Varner said. “I wanted to be a better baseball player and ended up being a fighter. It’s crazy how that turned out.”

After a very successful wrestling career in Deer Valley High School, Varner went to Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, where his was originally there to be a wrestler but also became a National Champion boxer. Everyone who graduated college knows that that’s the source of one’s work ethic. When Varner was there, he worked and was coached on being both.

“One of the positive things about going to Lock Haven is they taught me how to work,” said Varner, who in college time saw himself more as an accountant than a professional fighter.

Varner went back to his home state to start off his professional MMA career. He went 8-1 in Rage in the Cage before making his debut in the UFC in 2006 and eventually the WEC, where he won the WEC Lightweight Championship in February 13, 2008 at Albuquerque, New Mexico by defeating Rob McCullough. After that, Jamie Varner from Phoenix, AZ had finally made it.

“There are so few champions, he said. “Less than 1% of all athletes ever become a champion. So the fact that I’ve come to the highest level and become a world champion and defended my belt for two years, speaks volumes of my career and where I am as an athlete.”

But you don’t really make it until you find an action figure of yourself on the shelves in Target and Wal-Mart.

“Actually watching a kid purchase it not knowing that it was me right there is probably one of the coolest things ever,” Varner said.

After a long stint with WEC, Varner returned to the UFC in May 26, 2012 in a big way when he defeated Edson Barboza in what declared the Upset of the Year.

Like most fighters in the UFC, Varner has come a long way to get to the point where he can build up MMA careers in his hometown while continuing his own.

“In our sport, nothing is catered to us,” he said. “We’re not a glamorous sport. Like being a football player, being a baseball player, being a basketball player — they travel with people that will do their homework for them and they have tutors and buses and planes. A lot of us come from more of a blue color, grass roots background where we kind of have to pave our own way. We have to work our own way. As wrestlers in college, we don’t have tutors. We don’t have fancy buses. When I was in college, we would get vans, 14-passenger vans, and take vans to our wrestling trips. You get a lot more character and you get a lot more personality because the people has been through much more as far as career in life in general. They don’t have people cater to him.”

As Varner hinted; look for him to become an assistant college wrestling coach when his fighting career is finally over.


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