Posted 02/25/2015 by Jesse Scheckner in Featured Fighter

From Front Yard to Steel Cage: LW prospect Preston Parsons’ MMA career is just beginning

Undefeated in amateur and in his still burgeoning professional career, Preston Parsons has already amassed several titles and accolades. | Photo:

Undefeated in his amateur and still-burgeoning professional career, Preston Parsons has already amassed several titles and accolades. | Photo:

Florida lightweight mixed martial arts prospect Preston Parsons didn’t grow up on the wrong side of the tracks. He didn’t descend into criminal activity, make any irreparable decisions or cause any undue harm to anyone. By all accounts, he grew up a normal, athletic kid who took some karate classes as a youth and enjoyed sparring matches with his brother TJ in their front yard (much to the chagrin of their neighbors).

Few, except for maybe TJ and anyone else taking part in those front yard exhibition matches, could have predicted they’d lead to anything past a few scrapes and bruises. But Preston, 19, turned those early days of aggression into a promising career.

“I kind of already had my mind made up that I wanted to pursue MMA,” he said. “I found the closest gym, walked in, met [Ludus Martial Arts "Koach" Billy Mitchell] and knew right away that it was the place for me. My first competition was a good two or three months after I started training and I was only a teenager—I’m still a teenager—but I was only 16 then, so I competed in the younger age division and did very well. I did a lot of NAGA tournaments after that, various local tournaments, and we’ve gotten as far as going to California with the world tournament, now, which we placed rather well in, actually.

Parsons racked up up an 86-5 jiu-jitsu record and a 6-0 amateur MMA record, four by stoppage (three SUB; one TKO) and captured the Rival Fight League and Combat Night amateur lightweight titles. Now about to turn pro, he recently visited Alliance MMA and spoke with former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. He trained alongside the likes of Myles Jury, Jeremy Stephens and a personal favorite of his, former Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler, who later conducted a seminar at Ludus.

““It’s where some of the best fighters in the world train, and I hung in there really well against them,” he said. “I figured my opponent couldn’t be tougher than them. Even before that, here in our gym… we have some of the toughest guys you can find. So I knew I had good training partners; I knew going into my first pro fight that I definitely belonged there.”

He made his pro debut Sept. 6, 2014, at House of Fame 1: A New Dawn. He fought a fellow debuting Jacksonville-based competitor, Marc Graham. The fight lasted less than a minute.

During the fight, Parsons escaped a Kimura, reversed the position and secured a fight-ending armbar,

“I didn’t honestly think I was in too much danger,” he said.  “I felt I had the better position the whole time. When he went for the armbar, he forgot to bring his knee up and I was kind of laying on top of his leg so I could reverse it and come up on top. Honestly, for that submission, I wanted to be on top like I do most of my fights. If you watch any of my amateur tape or training tape you’ll see that I prefer to get the takedown and to be on top rather than be on my back, for obvious reasons; I don’t want to get hit. But I felt the submission there and he kind of fell for it. So I took it and it ended up being tight and I wound up finishing the fight.”

The performance earned Parsons “Best Submission” at the third-annual Florida MMA Awards held in Sunny Isles, FL late last month.

He’s following it up on March 14 at the BankUnited Center at House of Fame 2: Nations Collide – USA vs. Cuba, facing a slightly more tested opponent in “The Columbian Necktie” Jose Andres Cortes (2-1).

Parsons and "Coach Ludus" Billy Mitchell have become brothers in arms both in and out of competition. | Photo:

Parsons and “Koach Ludus” Billy Mitchell have become brothers in arms both in and out of competition. | Photo:

When not competing, Parsons is assistant head coach and general manager at Ludus. But he was back in the gym the day after securing his first pro win, according to Mitchell.

“II’ve never met anybody like him, and I can’t do anything but put all my faith in him because I’ve never seen anybody train harder,” Mitchell said. “I used to ask my wife all the time, ‘Why can’t I just find someone who trains as hard as I had? Why can’t I find anyone who wants it as much as I did? Where is that person?’ And Preston wants it more than I did. He trains harder than I ever trained. I think he’s going all the way.”

Preston Parsons faces Jose Andres Cortes at HOF 2: Nations Collide – USA vs. Cuba on March 14, 2015 at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, FL. Click HERE for more information on the event. For more information on Preston, Ludus head coach Billy Mitchell and Ludus Martial Arts & Personal Training, click HERE.


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Jesse Scheckner

A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a former semi-serious musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well committed to nonfiction storytelling. He is the 2014 Florida MMA Awards "Best MMA Media Correspondent" winner and a two-time Miami New Times "Best Of" winner. Follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner to talk about the stuff he writes about with him.