Mean1 MMA Welcomes Manny Rocha to the Team
Manny Rocha is the newest member of the Mean1 MMA & Fitness Family, and he sat down with US Combat Sports to give us the opportunity to get to know this fighter / boxer / coach.
Originally from San Jose, CA, Rocha grew up with soccer as his only sport, attending James Lick High School. He started working in the construction business before he even turned 16-years old, in order to help out his family.
It was around that time that he enrolled at Extreme Martial Arts in Santa Clara, for two reasons: he loved martial arts, and he wanted to do something to get into shape, weighing in at 287-pounds.
He applied himself diligently, studying Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo Karate, winning state and nationals of Olympic-style TKD, and obtaining his second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
His journey into the world of MMA began about four years ago, when he was talking about his interest in MMA to a friend, who invited him to come and train at his facility. That friend was Phil Torres, head coach of Torres BJJ/Team Stockton MMA, home of the famous Diaz brothers.
When he first came to that gym, his only experience in ground fighting was the Judo element in his Kenpo Karate training; however, he again committed himself wholly to his training, and he now holds his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Phil Torres.
Just four or five months into training, Rocha took his first MMA fight in July 2009, as a professional, with no amateur fights, "looking back, I wish I'd had a few amateur fights, and I probably fought a few fights heavier than I should have," and he has gone on to earn a 2-3 record. While training with Team Stockton, he also participated in teaching and coaching the kids.
Several months ago, Rocha decided to move to New Mexico, for two reasons: first, to be with his girlfriend, professional cagefighter and boxer, Heather "Hurricane" Clark (Jackson's/Mean1/Hideout), and second, to advance to the next phase of his training.
"I came to place in my life, where I needed to decide what I was going to do with my fight career. I decided to take it seriously, and I figured, there was no better place to train, in the world, than Albuquerque, NM."
When he first came to Albuquerque, he came to Mean1 MMA, sister gym to Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA, and settled there almost immediately; "Everyone was welcoming and cool to me, I like environments like that, so I stayed here. I get all the training partners and attention I need, right here."
About a month ago, Rocha was asked, because of his experience, if he'd like to work with the Mean Kids. He eagerly agreed, and has been working with Coach Luttrell and Steve Garcia, from that time; he will be coaching some of those kids for the upcoming Southwest Grapplefest VI, which takes place at Rio Rancho High School on Saturday, April 28, starting at 10:00am.
Currently, Rocha is training for his next fight, at Cage Fighter Warrior Series III, by Aragon Fight Promotions, which takes place in Carlsbad, NM, on June 2. He will be joined by several of his Mean1 teammates - including Steve Garcia, Conrad Padilla, Martin Manrique, Javier Palacios and Falon Ring - in his first fight representing Mean1 MMA.
Following this fight, he plans to try out for XFC on June 9, and is looking to take a boxing match, as he is also cross-training at Danny Romero's Hideout.
Rocha would like to thank his current sponsors: Mean1 MMA and Dr. Maggio Chiropractic, and is available to new sponsors. Most of all he wants to thank Coaches Chris Luttrell and Mike Winkeljohn "who always goes out of their way to help me out," and his girlfriend, Heather Clark "who always has my back."
For more information on Grapplefest, visit www.combatsportsclub.com. For more information on the upcoming event in Carlsbad, visit www.aragonfightpromotions.com.
photo by Heather Jo Clark