This Jolly giant isn’t green, but he definitely eats his spinach.
Daniel Jolly, legal studies graduate student, is a professional mixed martial fighter. He practices almost every day for three to five hours each session to stay strong and uphold his undefeated record.
Jolly described the MMA fighting world as “the Wild West.”
“If you decide you want to fight, no one can really stop you from doing that,” Jolly said. “It usually requires you to go to a gym that offers an MMA program. Coaches, trainers and gym owners are in contact with promoters who host amateur fights. A lot of people have between three to seven amateur fights to determine whether they are going to turn pro.”
Jolly started competing in MMA in 2008 as an amateur. His decision to compete professionally came after he went 3-0 last summer. He then took some time off to adjust to the professional MMA demands and now he is back to school and starting to fight again.
Jolly said his desire to compete in MMA events was more fundamental than most would imagine.
“Most boys who have a good father figure in their life, like I did, look up to their dad. My dad was a fighter,” Jolly said. “He was the one who showed me martial arts. My first memories are of watching kung fu movies with him and being in the studio. My mom even did martial arts for a while and even competed a little bit. As soon as I had an opportunity to get in there, I jumped at it.”
Jolly’s upbringing helped him to become both a skilled fighter and a nice guy. Lynn Crossett, associate professor of political science, said he was happy to see Jolly back on campus.
“He has a very kind and pleasant disposition,” Crossett said. “It’s unbelievable. You wouldn’t picture this guy in a cage fight. He is entirely too nice, reasonable and smart.”
Tim Kennedy, veteran MMA fighter, said he has trained consistently with Jolly over the past two years. Kennedy said punching one another in the head and trying to choke each other out are a couple of the ways he and Jolly train. Like Crossett, Kennedy has a high regard for Jolly.
“The first time I met Daniel, I was taken back,” Kennedy said. “He is a huge, athletic, seemingly super powerful guy with tattoos. He has a powerful presence about him that I don’t think he even recognizes. Then you start talking to him, and he has a really soft, sweet voice. He is a completely compassionate, caring person. He is a remarkable human being. I am thrilled to get to train with him.”
Kennedy said he witnessed the juxtaposition of Jolly’s hard exterior and his soft-spoken voice not long ago when some professional Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters visited from Houston and Dallas.
“In Jolly’s first round with one of these very veteran, experienced, UFC professional fighters, he smashed him,” Kennedy recalled. “He was taking him down by out-wrestling, out-kickboxing and out-grappling him. Jolly hadn’t said anything to this guy yet. Jolly told him in his kind of high-pitched, sweet voice ‘Hey man, you’re really good. I really appreciate you working with me.’ This fighter, who was all bloody after being murdered by Jolly for the past five minutes, just looked at him. All I could do was laugh outside of the cage.”