Face of Defense: Airman Strives to Become Pro Fighter
By Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony
2nd Bomb Wing
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La., Jan. 11, 2013 Many people dream of becoming rich, or of houses with white picket fences, but one airman's dream is to be locked in a blood-stained steel cage with a professional mixed martial artist.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Caudillo works as a fitness supervisor at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. During his free time, he trains and competes in mixed martial arts competitions and helps his fellow airmen stay fit to fight. U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
For most, this would be a nightmare. But for Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Caudillo, the 2nd Force Support Squadron fitness center supervisor here, his dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter is about to become reality.
"This has been a big dream of mine," Caudillo said. "My goal is to be the Ultimate Fighting Championship champion. I feel like MMA is my destiny."
Caudillo began his fighting career as a wrestler in high school and college. It wasn't until one of his deployments that he decided to pursue a career in MMA.
"I got interested in MMA when I was deployed to Afghanistan," he said. "I saw a few soldiers and some other guys doing combatives and jiu-jitsu, so I asked if I could partake. I started training with them, and it really started my career in MMA."
After Caudillo returned from his deployment, he joined an MMA gym and started competing in local amateur fights. His success in the ring attracted attention from producers of MTV's reality show “Caged.”
"Being on the show was good for publicity," Caudillo said. "It helped me meet a couple of people in UFC and make a lot of great connections."
After more than two years of hard work and training, Caudillo recently finished his amateur career with a 6-3 record.
"I feel like I am ready to go pro," he said. "I'm setting up my first pro fight for March, and I'll make my debut in the 135-pound weight class."
Though his MMA career is taking off, Caudillo still wants to be an airman.
"I still want to keep my Air Force career," he said. "It is nice to be able to work here at the fitness center. My job in the Air Force is to train people and keep them fit to fight."
The training he receives from the Air Force and MMA go hand in hand, Caudillo said, and help him to be a better fighter and airman.
"MMA has helped me learn a lot more as far as different types of workouts [are concerned]," he added. "What I learn at the MMA gym I take back to my squadron and use it to train people. I also use some of the fitness fundamentals that I learned in the Air Force to help me with my strength and endurance training for MMA."
Caudillo uses full-body workouts along with core and strength training to help his fellow airmen pass their physical fitness tests and stay in shape.
"Before, I would just do basic exercises like running, pushups and situps to pass my [fitness] test," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Crystal McElvane, 2nd Force Support Squadron unit deployment manager. "Working out with [Caudillo] is a different level of intensity; it's a total-body workout. I am definitely getting more tone."
In return, Caudillo receives a lot of support from the base community.
"A lot of my co-workers and other airmen come to my fights to support me," he said. "It feels great to have them come and cheer me on."
With his last amateur fight behind him and a promising professional MMA career in front of him, Caudillo will be in the gym doing one of two things: working or training.