Imagine being captivated by a moment. Engrossed in the reality surrounding you, but its touch never meets your skin. In this illusory moment you emerge from a tunnel, equipped with mental preparation and physical preparations of going into combat through and through. But once the disillusion of the moment breaks, the overwhelming heaviness of reality collapses in front of you and at that time you are in the octagon. With a simple click and lock, there is no turning back.
“I hopped into the octagon for the first time and there were eight corners and I thought ‘how am I supposed to stand?’” said Ryan Dunphy about his first professional MMA bout. “Once that bell rang for the first round I feel like I was kind of just waiting for him to attempt a takedown. I didn’t go towards my game plan; I didn’t do anything that I had been working on. And I think that was my downfall for that fight. It was just not finding that self-confidence that I had on a regular basis. I kind of got caught up in the moment and fight played out the way it did because I never pulled the trigger.”
It was back in 2013 that ACE Fighting Championship’s Dunphy bulldozed his way into a professional mixed martial arts debut. His efforts turned out to be in vain losing a unanimous decision to James Mancini, but his enthusiasms were not baseless. His extensive kickboxing and muay thai background cushioned his fast track to the professional circuit. But ultimately, the loss guided him back to the grassroots level of mixed martial arts; a level growing in importance for many fighters careers.
“I learned very quickly that I needed to work my ground game a hell of a lot more if I wanted to be in that realm,” Dunphy said about his punishing lesson. “I did put up a hell of a fight though. I lasted the entire 15 minutes and I definitely felt that I had the skills to do what I wanted. But there were obviously things I needed to acquire before I jumped back into it. From there I was granted the allowance to go back to amateur MMA.”
His return to the amateur circuit was against fellow stand-up artist Jordan Graham at ACE 5 in late July where he suffered a gruesome cut which the referee deemed was enough to call the fight. The unfortunate turnout meant that Dunphy would have to wait until Nov. 11 at ACE 6 to return to the eight corners of the octagon to re-gain track of his motivations.
These motivations – shared by a myriad of other men and women around the world – are gained through his daily hardship of working full-time, raising a family, feeling financial burdens and also fitting in training. Maintaining the latter is a difficult feat all on its own. But the overall lesson Dunphy learned came from one hard 15 minute lesson against Mancini leading to where he is today.
“If I want to do this I’m going to have to do it a certain way, because I have a family, I have all these responsibilities, I won’t be able to do it the way other guys do it,” said Dunphy. “I’m going to have to work my ass off during the day, come home spend some time with my family, get my ass to the gym and work my ass off in the gym, come back home and read a story to my daughter before bed and repeat it all the next day. I think finally, I’ve been able to fall into [that] nice groove. I’m finally starting to figure out how to do that.”
Dunphy will be taking on Evolucao Thai prospect Andy Tiet at ACE 6 – a highly rated match-up on the Nashville North card. In his rigorous preparations, he has found guidance in his boxing coach Kenny Alcampado at Legends MMA. A man who has devoted his own precious time to the ultimate goals Dunphy possess.
“Up until now I’ve been pretty much doing everything on my own… It’s always me. I’m the one always keeping myself accountable,” said Dunphy. “After my last fight, I worked with Kenny a bit for that camp. He saw what I could do after a couple of weeks of working with me. So now he comes in an hour early every day to sit there and work with me. He doesn’t ask for money or anything. He is here out of the goodness of my heart to help me achieve my goals. He for me is that integral person, pushing me and bringing me to the next level for this fight coming up.”
This article is a part of ACE Fighting Championship’s special “Spotlight Series” that will look to explore the GTA’s best amateurs and their respective MMA facilities as they ready for ACE 6 on Nov. 11. ACE 6 will be aired live on PPV. You can also experience the event live in person at Nashville North in Georgetown and you can get your tickets at acefights.com.