You can stack the deck against him. Get him on short notice,
without proper training, at a higher weight class or some
combination of the three. Break his jaw. However it goes down,
David scraps until the final bell, and chances are, there isn’t
anything you can throw at him that he hasn’t already seen. When
you’ve lived in a gym for a year, spent months couch surfing and
taken virtually every fight you’ve been offered, a dose of
stability can work wonders for your career.
David, a.k.a. “Dark Lotus,” defeated David
Granados for the Pure Combat bantamweight belt on Nov. 1 in his
hometown of Sacramento, Calif. His 11-7-2 record is notable;
despite lacking a full-time training regimen and competing above
his natural weight of 135 pounds, he has never been stopped or
When he turned pro in 2003, he was “fiending for MMA” and started
fighting to provide balance between mind and body. A Sacramento
State graduate -- he earned a degree in philosophy -- David, 27,
still searches for the next challenge before he retires, and, as he
puts it, pursues a career “as a professor with a long white
Now that he can train and make a living teaching, David figures his
best years are ahead of him. He goes all-in with whatever he does,
whether it’s fighting or debating the observations of Nietzsche and
Kant. David’s battle with Granados was no different.
“The way I look at this guy, he’s like most MMA fighters nowadays,”
David said beforehand. “They aren’t specialists; they do
everything. But I do the same, and I don’t think there’s one aspect
of the game he has more than me. I’m a full-time fighter, and this
is what I do. If he wins, he’s the better man.”
‘A really smart dude’
Roommate Nelson Ocampo also fought on the card and credits David
with keeping him in the sport.
“It’s awesome living with him,” Ocampo said. “The more I know this
guy, the more he blows my mind. He’s a really smart dude. I’m glad
[I was able] to finally return a favor when I found out he had
nowhere to live. [If] it wasn’t for Chris, I wouldn’t be
David teaches grappling at Universal Training Center, a local gym
owned by James Irvin. He
got the job the hard way -- by showing up and rolling with the head
instructor, a brown belt who outweighed him by 30 pounds. The two
grappled to exhaustion, neither able to secure a submission. Before
that, he’d helped fellow fighter Cody
Canterbury start another gym in a warehouse, and Canterbury
referred him to Irvin.
“He’s got pretty much one of the biggest classes there,” Canterbury
said. “Fighting, it’s like life, that’s all he does. He loves it.
He lives for it all the time. He’s ready to rock and roll and fight
anybody anytime. He doesn’t treat you any different. I tell people
that when I recommend him. He has a hard class. He treats me the
same, and he’ll get right in my face.”
Recent fights have allowed David more preparation than earlier in
his career, when gyms were hard to find. The approach came with a
high price because he took fights on short notice or above his
natural weight. Consider the bout he accepted against 155-pounder
Jessie Romero on a week’s notice in 2006.
“It was a title fight at 155 for $1,000,” David said. “Twenty days
before, I fought Ian McCall at
135, so I was like 143. I weigh in with rolls of quarters in my
jeans. His stand-up was better than mine. I kept banging on him on
the ground, but they kept standing us up. He only won the last 30
seconds of the round off stand-up. I was outta shape, and this fool
kicks me in the head. I was tired, my jaw was open [and] he hits me
as hard as he could. My hands dropped, and [he] kicked me again in
the jaw, and I fell right into it.”
David filed a claim through the promoter’s insurance immediately
after the fight and had his jaw wired shut.
“We hooked up with a straw and some red wine,” said Jeff Jones,
another running mate and training partner. “He sipped it down
through the gap where his front tooth is missing. He didn’t
complain and seemed pretty happy about it.”
“Four months into it, I’m dying, eating soup and protein shakes for
the last month,” David says. “Some buddies were having pizza and
donuts, and I’m like, ‘I’m eating this.’ I ate two pieces of pizza,
smashed into little bits, gumming it with my tongue through my
mouth. It was the best meal ever.”
In July 2007, David fought Scott
Jorgenson on Showtime, dropping a clear-cut but hard-fought
decision. Even with his debut on the big stage, the pre-fight drama
carried his trademark dose of chaos.
Driving with three fight buddies to Santa Ynez, Calif., David
blazed a trail to Los Angeles to pick up Aric Nelson,
Bias and Chad George.
He was still three pounds overweight and running late for
weigh-ins. During the drive north, David ran the heater full-blast.
While wearing a rubber suit, he leaned into the blazing air, as he
and his three comrades stripped down to their underwear.
“We’re getting low on gas,” David said. “I’d rather be five minutes
late than risk running out of gas, so we stop at a gas station. We
pull up, and all these shirtless, tattooed guys come falling out of
the car. Those people at the gas station were glad to see us
George wrestled with David at Sierra College. The two ran into each
other at a Total Combat card in Tijuana, Mexico, a couple years
later and have since become friends.
“I’ve traveled all over with Chris to help him train and corner for
his fights,” George said. “He’s traveled to Canada and [Las] Vegas
for me. Even if you look at the guys who’ve beaten him, Jorgenson
Quach, those are fights he could’ve won. Chris’ worst problem
is sometimes he doesn’t push the pace, and he loses, but he’s got
more heart than anybody you’ll come across. If he fights the way I
know he’s capable of, I think he’s top 30 in the world.”