Gardiner’s past that packs a punch: MMA fighting

Chloe Winn, Staff Writer

Imagine you are at Safeway enjoying a smoothie from Jamba Juice when all of a sudden you see two men walk out of the store and two more men run after them. Two of the men start fighting. One reveals himself as a police officer and the other one was trying to steal something. The officer is visibly struggling so you ask if he wants your help. He hesitates but then agrees; you run in, dropping your Jamba Juice on the pavement, and you pick the guy up and threw him onto the ground so the Police officer can handcuff him.


Heroic, huh? What you may not know is that this actually happened. Yes, the valiant person who helped that police officer was none other than our own Dean of students, John Gardiner.


These heroics actually came naturally to Gardiner because of his involvement in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). In 2001 Gardiner started training and he had his first fight in 2007. He originally began fighting for stress relief but later found other reasons to enjoy it.


“I liked the hand-to-hand combat aspect to it and being able to do it legally and in an environment where there’s rules and standards and there’s people that care about those rules,” Gardiner said.


How might one start fighting for the MMA, you ask? First, you need to find a gym. Gardiner found his while he was at an amateur wresting tournament. He ran into the UFC Heavyweight champion at the time. He told Gardiner the name of his gym, so Gardiner went to check it out. He ended up falling in love with the place due to the atmosphere, people, and trainer.


“I got to train with Matt Hume, who is one of the best trainers in the world. He’s training right now Demetrious Johnson, who is the number one ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world. That was one of my coolest experiences, having him in my corner when I fought; it was very memorable,” Gardiner said.


Gardiner stopped fighting in 2008 because he was having a child. He wanted to make his son his number one priority and wanted to be able to provide for him. He didn’t have the time anymore to fight.


“A thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that for MMA is different than boxing. For MMA you train five or six days a week. You don’t just train three months leading up to the fight because with mixed martial arts there’s so many different aspects to a fight,” Gardiner said.


Another misconception Gardiner says many people have about MMA is thinking that the people who do it are “violent and aggressive”. They aren’t all street fighters either; according to Gardiner, a lot of them have never been in a street fight ever.


“What I found was that there were people from all different aspects of life, police officers, teachers, parents, and especially professional fighters as well that were either doing it for a living or just for fun,” Gardiner says. “They’re really great people and smart and intelligent, great guys to hang out with”.