by Ken Pishna (Photo by April Pishna)
(Noah Thomas punishing Jeff Willingham at WFC: Fight Club – Photo by April Pishna)
Fortunately for Noah Thomas, while he did see other parts of the world, he didn’t see much action while he served as a United States Marine. But all the aggression that found no outlet in the military served to fuel his competitive fires upon his return to civilian life as a mixed martial artist.
Of course, it’s never as simple as that. In fact, like many other fighters, Thomas kind of stumbled into mixed martial arts by happenstance. He attended an open fight night at a local bar in Ft. Collins, Colorado, entered the competition, and eight fights later walked away the winner. That’s eight fights and eight wins in one night; no training, no muss, no fuss. They weren’t top ten competitors that he defeated, but the success was enough to stoke Thomas’ competitive fires and get him training for real.
Thomas admits that, while he has wrestled since kindergarten, he was never the best at it. “Basically, I wanted to do what I wanted to do and didn’t listen to anybody else. If I wasn’t so bullheaded, I think I could have been really good,” he reflected.
Following his service in the Marines, where he served in the same unit as fellow mixed martial artist Gerald Strebendt, Thomas emerged with a much higher regard for the knowledge that he could gain from others. Once he decided that he wanted to take fighting seriously, as he put it, “I started training with anybody and everybody.”
Then, following his loss to Enoch Wilson at Sport Fight: Mayhem, he hooked up with a training partner that showed him just how good he could be. On the suggestion of Sport Fight promoter Matt Lindland, Thomas started training with Team Quest fighter Ryan Schultz who had just moved to the Ft. Collins area where Thomas lives.
“Ryan really opened my eyes. I mean I was used to being able to tap out most of my training partners most of the time, but Ryan was just all over me. When I told him that, he said, ‘It’s hard to submit me when I’m dropping bricks onto your face,’ and it was like a light went on. Up to that point, I never threw a punch in my fights,” recalls Thomas.
If results are any indicator, the lessons he learned from Schultz haven’t been wasted on him. Following the loss to Wilson, Thomas stepped into a very tough battle with local nemesis Vern Baca when Sport Fight took the show on the road to Denver, Colorado. Following a tough first round that found him frequently on his back, Thomas showed a lot of heart to turn the tables and get the TKO stoppage in the second round.
Keeping the momentum building, he then took a contender’s fight on short notice for the Worldwide Fighting Championship (WFC), a new promotion that has started to run in the Denver/Ft. Collins area in Colorado. With the promise of a title shot in January on the line, Thomas showed his fortitude once more, fighting his way out of a tight arm bar (that later turned his arm black and blue from wrist to shoulder) before pounding Jeff Willingham into submission at the WFC’s Fight Club show.
Schultz has since returned to Oregon and training with Team Quest, but Thomas still trains with him when their paths cross. With two fights lined up for January, a bout with Jose Luis Murillo at the next Kick Down pro/am event and the WFC title shot against current champion Matt Ver Halen, he has plans to head out to Oregon in December to train with Schultz and Team Quest to prepare for the fights. He also has a strong core group of training partners in the Ft. Collins area that are helping add to his skills.
Of course, along with training with some of the premier fighters in the world, comes the confidence that success in the ring instills. He’s not cocky, but he is prepared, and he’s ready to unleash that preparation in January. Finally getting a title shot, Thomas is convinced he will be victorious, “I hope [Ver Halen] hasn’t gotten too attached to that belt because I’m taking it away from him.”
Noah wanted to give a shout out to his sponsors and supporters: Brown Mortgage; Akumu.com; John, Randy, and Seb; Matt and Ryan; Summit Financial; and UltimateFightGear.com.
WFC: FIGHT CLUB RESULTS
Noah Thomas def. Jeff Willingham by TKO at 2:10 of Round 2
Zane Frazier def. Melville Calabaca by TKO at 0:43 of Round 1
Eric Heinz def. Andy Wang by Split Decision, 3 Rounds
Victor Vinciletti def. Terry Pettek by TKO at 1:36 of Round 1
John Cronk def. Brett Schaefer by TKO at 2:23 of Round 2
Eric Clawson def. Jonathon Tsosie by TKO at 0:31 of Round 1
Lyle Steffens def. Konstintine Batsura by Arm Bar at 2:34 of Round 1
Jesse Fujarczyk def. Paul O’Keefe by Guillotine Choke at 0:53 of Round 1
Ryan Pylines def. Eric Mumme by Rear Naked Choke at 2:09 of Round 1