Needham native and mixed martial artist Dan Walsh took part in his first-ever Cage Titans Amateur Fighting Championship bout on July 10 at Plymouth Memorial Hall.
“I’m pretty dedicated to this and it was cool to see on Saturday that it’s not a pipe dream anymore,” he said last week.
The 20-year-old started wrestling at Needham High School, where he was a member of the Class of 2019, and trained at the Boston Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu in Newton before gaining the attention of some current and former fighters. mixed martial arts at the Lauzon Mixed Martial Arts Gymnasium in Raynham, featuring facility owner Joe Lauzon.
Lauzon, who is now Walsh’s coach, said in an interview Monday that he knew the Cage Titans event would result in a “tough fight” between two amateur contestants, but admitted that he really had “no idea what to expect from them “.
Walsh’s opponent in Plymouth was Jake Caskey, a 25-year-old former Connecticut state wrestling champion who was also in his first MMA fight.
The start of the fight seemed far from a wrestling match, however, as Caskey and Walsh traded a flurry of punches and punches after the opening bell, but several inches in height gave Walsh an advantage in the second. tower, as he deployed a pair of jiujitsu. moves – an “arm bar” followed by a “bare rear choke” – to pin a wobbly Caskey to the cage mat.
The referee stopped the match and declared Walsh the winner.
The result was not entirely unexpected for Lauzon – he said the former wrestlers he coaches always “have courage and they are hard workers; “But many may find it difficult to break old habits to upgrade their skills.”
Walsh doesn’t fall into that category – inside or outside the gym.
“You can’t judge people too soon, but you can usually tell some people right off the bat how super honest they are – and that was Dan,” Louzon recalls from his early interactions with Walsh. “Dan is a great worker, he does the right things and goes above and beyond.”
“He’s not just hitting a wall; he’s smart at what he does.
“I don’t see it as work”
While training to be a professional MMA fighter is Walsh’s ultimate goal, there is more to his story.
“I’m not a violent guy outside of the gym, I don’t like confrontation,” Walsh admitted.
“For me, it’s just a way to test myself. It’s a very measurable way to see your progress, and it’s visceral, ”he said of his love for fighting.
The “visceral” nature of MMA fights overlaps with that of her daily work. In January, Walsh, who turns 21 on July 21, signed up with the Fallon Ambulance company and works six to eight hours in an ambulance, sometimes three to four days a week, mostly in the Worcester area.
This job came after he completed his first year of health science studies at Stonehill College. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted him to take a year off school and enroll in a certification course to become an emergency medical technician.
Diving into a medical career complimented Walsh’s training regimen in the weeks leading up to his fight in Plymouth as he trained and trained six days a week and got “smarter” in his diet so to drop his weight from 165 pounds to 145 featherweight. Weight Limit.
“It was good,” Walsh said. “I could follow someone for four hours between workouts, so it went perfectly.”
If that wasn’t enough, Walsh started another job as an emergency room technician at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Needham earlier this month; and will begin nursing school at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in the fall; he also plans to take the state civil service exam required to apply to become a firefighter in Massachusetts.
“It’s all about learning to handle things under stress,” Walsh said of the overlap between fighting and his professional activities.
“Obviously, it’s not directly applicable, I don’t hit people in the face, but it’s a teaching [me] manage and think under pressure and really analyze when things aren’t going so well.
“I like to take tough and challenging situations and make them not like that, and that’s where I am great, so finding a career to do it is pretty cool. I don’t see it as work.”
There are plenty to choose from, but perhaps the best indication of Walsh’s success comes from the crowds of supporters, including his parents, Joe and Lynn, and his sister Amanda, Needham High School Class of 2022, who turned up. traveled to Plymouth earlier this month to see Walsh win his first fight.
“I couldn’t even hear my walkout song about everyone screaming and stuff,” Walsh said. “The gym guys were saying my fight was the loudest they had ever heard in this place. “
“I am very grateful to all my crazy friends and family,” he added.