I never knew how much a part of me fighting had become until I spent a year and a half away from it. Last Saturday, August 17th, 2013 marked the end of a dark period in my life. You see, before fighting I was no body of public interest. I grew up a fat, nonathletic kid, always in the shadow of others. It wasn't until mixed martial arts that I began to see something special in myself. I had found a sport that I could not only compete, but excel at. I was no longer "Bobby Hill", as I was mockingly called growing up due to my likeness to the overweight sitcom character. I wasn't even Tyler Minton anymore. Now, I was Tyler "Melee" Minton, the fan favorite professional fighter with a promising future and no thoughts of slowing down. That is, until sickness and injury forced me to a complete halt.
For a year and a half I was without the sport that changed my life. In a lot of ways, I felt as if I was the unpopular, nonathletic kid again. My confidence had plummeted, and I began to lose motivation. After my shoulder surgery, I soon met the man who would recharge my passion for the sport and inspire me- The "American Gangster" himself, UFC superstar, Chael Sonnen. After being part of his fight camp preparing for Jon Jones, I began regular correspondence with the UFC bad boy, and through him began to feel confident once again. I began training harder and smarter than ever, with a passion like I had never had before. I wanted nothing more than to fight. I was back on track, full steam ahead and ready to tear up the mma scene. Life however, presented another obstacle in the form of my best friend David "RoboCop" Chambers suffering a severe injury in a devastating car accident. Instead of hindering my training however, my passion was fueled and my desire to make Dave proud pushed me even further. I was ready for war.
On August 17, 2013, I finally got my chance in Pigeon Forge with the 3FC promotion. I won my fight with a dominating first round submission. More importantly however, for the first time in my fighting career, I learned how to fight without nerves or fear. I walked to the cage full of passion and a desire to fight and carried that emotion until the finish. I didn't worry about the fans, or the outcome of the fight. In the locker room, I accepted the fact that the outcome was already destined, and all that I could do was compete with all that I had. I'm happy to say that this night, God had destined my hand to be raised... While the year and a half leading up to my fifth professional win was marked with darkness and negative emotion, I can now see that it was all in the grand plan of sharpening me as a fighter and person. Although I spent many bitter months questioning God's will and beating myself up over the outcome, I wouldn't trade these months for anything! "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose"