Bramlett will be making his professional debut in MMA when he faces Josh Jarvis Nov. 10 at Camp Jordan, in Chattanooga.
“This is UFC-style, full-contact cage fighting,” said Bramlett, leader of Team Truth, who will be fighting in the 135-pound division. “The difference between pro and amateur other than pay is the use of elbows and knees to the head, and the gloves are a lot smaller.”
Bramlett has been training for his upcoming bout since the 1990s when he first got into martial arts. He said he starting getting serious about the sport in 2007.
“As an amateur, I finished ... 18-4 and was the bantamweight champion. Going pro, I’m going to debut at bantamweight and, depending on how I feel, I am going to try and cut down to a smaller weight,” he said.
Bramlett has officially been in the ring 22 times, and has exited with 18 victories.
“You can win by knockout, TKO or submission,” explained Bramlett. “If your opponent is hurt bad enough the referee will stop the fight. Most of my wins have come by submission.”
Bramlett said the difference he will see when he jumps from the amateur ranks to professional will be substantial.
“I’m expecting to see a whole other level of performance. The guy I am fighting has had four pro fights already, so he has a little bit more experience than me in the pro ranks,” said the 135 pounder. “He is 0-4, but he has fought four very tough guys. He has fought on Strike Force, which is one of the biggest professional promotions in the world.
One of the losses came to a close friend of Bramlett’s who was working the corner.
Bramlett explained how MMA records can be deceiving. “Sometimes you can have a bad record, but be a good fighter. I’m not taking him lightly. His strength is on the ground and from what I hear he is a hard hitter. But, I’m hard to hit and I’m comfortable on the ground,” said a confident Bramlett about the Chattanooga-based fighter.
Jarvis, like Bramlett, has yet to make his name a well known commodity in the world of MMA. Both fighters are up-and-comers looking to make their mark in the sport.
When Bramlett decided to turn professional, he also decided it was time to turn up the heat on his training. With levels of competition getting stronger, Bramlett’s level must increase proportionally if he is to find success at the new level of increased ring time in the three-round bouts.
“My training is a lot more intense than it was for amateur. The rounds are longer. In amateur the rounds are three minutes long. In pro, they are five minutes for non-title fights,” he explained.
Increased training time is not the only obstacle Bramlett must face in his attempt to rise in the MMA ranks. The solid fighter battles a disease which limits what he can do physically, an extremely difficult doctor’s order considering his chosen path. The soon-to-be MMA professional suffers from idiopathic and exercise induced anaphylaxis.
“Anaphylaxis is what happens when someone is allergic to bees when they get stung. They (doctors) don’t know what I’m allergic to. Sometimes I just have reactions,” explained Bramlett. “I have been in the hospital several times over it. A lot of times if I have food in my system and I do something really strenuous and my adrenaline spikes, I have a reaction. I have to really watch myself.
One positive note concerning the affliction comes from the disease helping Bramlett relax and control his adrenaline.
“In fighting, you want to be relaxed, You want to control your adrenaline. It’s actually worked to my benefit. It takes me a lot longer to get in shape than it does most people, but I think it pays off in the long run. It helps me to keep myself calm,” he said. “It makes training difficult, but Ive learned to live with it and refuse to let it hinder me or stop me from reaching my goals.”
Bramlett first started his MMA journey in the 1990s with kick boxer Eric Wilson. Bramlett trained with Wilson at TWA Arena off Blue Springs Road. After getting married and getting away from the sport for a bit, he resumed training just to prepare another fighter for an upcoming match. The training produced unexpected results.
“I ended up getting myself in shape and got the bug to fight again,” said Bramlett. “I’ve been fighting pretty regular since 2007.”
Currently Bramlett is head coach for Team Truth at The Cell gym on Benton Pike. The team sports an impressive 70-19 record and boasts eight championship titles and numerous Fight of the Night awards.
“We’ve done pretty good for a small little gym out of a small town like Cleveland,” said the coach. “We have six or seven fighters who are regular and a total of about 10 more who come and go. I’ve probably trained 25 or 26 different fighters on and off.”
The Truth fighters step into the ring in front of large groups of MMA enthusiasts at Camp Jordan. Bramlett will be on the card with as many as five other professional bouts and several amateur fights.
“We get pretty big crowds. We’ve not been to very many shows that haven’t come close to selling out. Camp Jordan is a pretty big place. They get a lot of people in there. The event I am fighting in is a Pro-Am show. They are trying to have five or six pro fights at this one,” Bramlett said of the upcoming card. “Normally they have two or three pro fights and the rest amateur. This is going to be a pretty big card.”
Bramlett looks at the professional ranks as something he has always wanted to do. But, for the time being, he will limit his time in the pro ring.
“I’m looking at it as having a couple of pro fights and then I want to step back and stick to coaching. I enjoy coaching and I don’t really have the time to be full a full-time pro MMA fighter. But, I have enjoyed the ride to get this far and I feel honored I made it as a professional,” he said. “There is nobody in the Cleveland area, really, to train as far as professionals. I’ve been traveling to Atlanta Martial Arts Center” to find fighters he might train professionally, he said.