Macon, Georgia’s Chase Boutwell has been garnering plenty of attention in the months leading up to the impending IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA—and for good reason.
The 18-year-old recent high school graduate is the youngest U.S. national champion in history with a 5-0 record ahead of Worlds in Bahrain after beginning his MMA career just this year. However, Boutwell has been building up to this moment for the better part of a decade. Like many, he was inspired by a trip to the movies to see a martial arts film and he hasn’t looked back since.
“Right after the movie I told my father that I wanted to learn how to do that and enrolled in kempo karate. After a year and a half of that I started Brazilian jiu-jitsu and have never stopped training up to this day. I started striking on a consistent basis at the age of 13 and never stopped. Then wrestling when I was 15. So the transition [to MMA] was not very hard at all.”
The driven competitor would amass a 33-3 record in wrestling under the guidance of coach Bubby Mitchell prior to a knee injury that would cut his senior season short. Still, he had his goals in mind and would sacrifice some of the commonplace things in a high school experience to achieve those goals.
“No regrets. I’m pretty anti-social when it comes to dealing with social gatherings that don’t deal with any combat. I never really cared, or saw the value in attending prom or graduation because anyone can go to those. Not everyone can fight…I feel my coach gives me the tools to do what needs to be done. Some days are rough drilling the same thing but I know that he’s been through it all and knows what he’s doing.”
Boutwell would then turn to MMA and take his first fight for UMMAF affiliate Valor Fights last March, winning it by first-round triangle choke, before immediately being introduced to UMMAF.
“I’ll never forget the first thing that came to my head after he tapped, “I’m going to be the best in the world at this” this is not the first time I’ve said this but it was the first time I’ve said this but it was the first time I knew I’m gonna be a world champion one day.”
Thanks to that ambition and “anti-social” nature he discussed, the up-and-comer now spends five to seven hours in training. He also took time to let his knee get back to 100 percent, just in time to win the then-vacant Valor Fights bantamweight (135-pound) championship last July after he’d already become the UMMAF national champion. A truly global world title through IMMAF is up next.
Meanwhile, he hasn’t let any sort of local celebrity status or his unbeaten record go to his head. He’s already had world championship-level experience in kickboxing, a loss, but he pressed on with each day, being inspired by his mother’s ongoing battle with Multiple sclerosis (MS.) Should he bring home an IMMAF gold medal, Boutwell expects the first thing he’d do would be to call his mother.
“My mother is a fighter. Not everyday is easy but she fights through it, I guess it’s just in our blood. I remember [the loss] clear and how it felt to lose. It sucked but I can’t thank [my opponent] enough for making me realize that not a day at the gym needs to be wasted.”
When it comes to his success in MMA he said:
“I don’t really pay attention to the undefeated part, but I believe I’m undefeated because I’m a workhorse and the thought of martial arts never leaves my mind. I’m always thinking about the guy who’s just a little bit better than me and how I want to surpass him, whoever that is.
I feel no pressure. I’m just here to add bodies to my collection.”
The 2017 IMMAF World Championships of Amateur MMA take place November 12-19 in Manama, Bahrain.
The 2018 UMMAF National Championships will take place during the first week of February with registration already open on UMMAF.org. This next national event will also feature the first Youth MMA National Championship thanks to the United States Fight League, the UMMAF youth development arm, which is a requirement for any sport applying for the Olympics.
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