MMA fighter thrives on aggression

Going one way


Emerson Small is preparing for his upcoming fight at Train, Fight, Win gym.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

Emerson Small isn’t one who spends a lot of time playing head games with his opponents in the mixed martial arts cage.

When the bell rings, the 23-year-old FSU senior is all about the grappling and striking. So far the approach has brought him two victories in four fights.

Everyone has followed the same script, said Small’s trainer Sky Rudloe. There is a good chance that fans who attend Combat Night on Feb. 3 at The Moon will see the same aggressive Small.

He doesn’t know much about his opponent, but that won’t let that faze him, Rudloe said.

“There is nothing you’re going to hit him with that is going to keep him from coming forward,” Rudloe said. “You can’t make him quit. That’s something you can’t teach somebody.”

Small has been so consistent at being an aggressive fighter that he’s earned the nickname “Cyborg” in the gym.
“Emerson has no quit in him.You can hit him really, really hard and he will keep coming,” Rudloe said. “That is a skill you either have or you don’t.”

Small first put his skills on display shortly after he attended an open house at Rudloe’s gym, Train, Fight Win.

Small wasn’t even thinking about doing much at the gym at first other than attending a few general classes. He signed up for a beginners’ class but it turned out that he was the only student.

He quickly jumped at the chance to be on the club’s fight team. After a few days of workouts, he became convinced that he’d found his niche.
“It was one of the most beautiful things I ever done,” he said. “It was exhausting but challenging.”
It is that challenge that drives him, he said.

Since the first day he walked into the gym three years ago, Small has shown great athleticism. That’s something he said he developed as a distance runner and having a brief stint with taekwondo as a teenager.

He was a better-than-average distance runner for Beltram Trail High School in his Jacksonville hometown. He has parlayed his passion for running into his cardio routine.

Yet, him making weight (155 pounds) is usually one of his biggest concerns, said Small, whose walk around weight is 170.
When fight time comes, Small said, he seldom goes into the cage with a specific strategy.