USCS Military Spotlight: Jeff Humphries Makes His Way Back to the Fight Game After Years in the Service
Success cannot be obtained unless one is passionate about their profession. The field of combat sports has ignited a fueling desire for one Jeff Humphries. With an extensive background as boxer and collegiate wrestler, through his development as a fighter, his mutation would mold him into an individual ambitious on cementing his own legacy in the world of mixed martial arts.
However, the game of life always has a way of averting one's attention that would find Humphries giving up his fights pursuits to join the military for six years. Now out of the service, Jeff now has established a stable foundation in his life that has rewarded him the opportunity to make one more run in the sport he adores so much.
How did you get involved in combat sports?
Jeff Humphries: I got involved in combat sports at the age of 11. I started school younger than most so I was always smaller than most everyone else. I began wrestling in the fifth grade and when my parents heard about the Police Activity League having a boxing program, they signed me up at age 11.
I continued on this cycle for the next several years and my boxing coach and I traveled throughout California competing in boxing tournaments. I was a two time Northern California Junior Olympic Champion and Regional Champion. The boxing was what I loved most but I knew my way into college would be through wrestling.
I was a pretty successful wrestler through High school and was the Team Captain of our wrestling team for two years. With hard work and the help of an awesome wrestling Coach and mentor, Bob Colvig, I received a wrestling scholarship to a Private College in Jacksonville Illinois.
Now through your rise as a wrestler and a boxer, were there any aspirations to pursue a career in MMA?
Jeff Humphries: When I was growing up, MMA either wasn't a big thing yet or I just didn't know about it. So I never saw myself as an MMA Fighter. It wasn't until after training for an upcoming boxing match in 2005 that I ever even thought about competing in MMA.
At this time, I was living in Louisiana, just finished my six-year stint in the Air Force and was going through the Shreveport Police Academy. MMA was new to the area and after training very hard for the boxing match that fell through in the end, I was offered the opportunity to compete in an MMA fight at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
With a background in wrestling and boxing, I figured I'd do well. Having never been exposed to anyone kicking at me, I'll never forget my opponent coming out throwing roundhouse kicks one after another! I stayed relaxed, attacked when the time was right and ended up winning the fight via referee stoppage in the opening seconds of the second round. The best thing was, this was the first fight I had ever been in where I never got hit, not even once! I was hooked.
Now it seems as though life threw you a curveball that caused you to abandon your athletic pursuits to join the military. What was your reason for making this career decision?
Jeff Humphries: There have been many curveballs thrown into my plans throughout the years but I wouldn't change anything that happened! Almost a year into college, my girlfriend became pregnant with our first daughter. I had to man up and take care of them so I dropped out of college and moved back home. My collegiate wrestling career was cut very short but I didn't care, I knew what I had to do.
Barely 18-years-old at the time, I went to work doing whatever I could and we barely got by. I wanted more for them. Having never before even thought about joining the military, I woke up one morning and out of the blue decided to go speak with a USAF recruiter. Less than a year later, I married my girlfriend who has now been my wife for 13 years and I left her and my beautiful daughter in California while I traveled to San Antonio Texas for USAF Basic Training.
What would you say has been the biggest accomplish you obtain during your stint in the military?
Jeff Humphries: I did my entire six-year stint at Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, LA in the Security Forces Career Field. I began as an Airman Basic E-1, working the base gates and finished as a Staff Sergeant E-5 with the last three years as a Criminal Investigator. I wouldn't say that there was one specific accomplishment I obtained while in the Air Force that I'm proud of. This was when I matured and grew into the man that I am today.
I think just being blessed with the determination to make a better life for my family and putting in the work to accomplish it, is what I'm most proud of. No matter what was put in front of me, I worked hard and was determined to be the best at it. While at Barksdale AFB, I was able to find time to train and compete a few times. I had three amateur boxing matches, which I won.
How has being in the military helped with your development as a fighter or even in life in general?
Jeff Humphries: The military made me who I am today. Had I never joined, I'm sure life would have been a lot harder today. I may have even been in jail or dead by now. The experience taught me among many other things that I could do anything I wanted as long as I was willing to put in the work and was determined to do it.
Now coming out of the military you had the opportunity to redirect your attention to a fight career again while also becoming a deputy sheriff. How does one balance these two fully committed occupations?
Jeff Humphries: After leaving the Air Force, I went to work for the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office. While in the police academy, I had my first MMA fight and won by TKO. I still didn't have the time to pursue the fight career because I was new to the Sheriff's Office and had to make my mark. I needed the job and I wanted to excel to give us a better life.
At this time, I had a large family, three daughters and my wife to support. I did find the time to train on a couple more occasions and I fought two more MMA fights, which I won. I was hooked on MMA and knew that this was what I wanted to do. I could have found time to fight and probably would have done well but I didn't want to do it if I couldn't give it 100% of my attention, so again I put it off again with the hopes of having time to pick it back up in the future.
In the meantime, I worked my way up from patrolman, to Detectives, to working Undercover Narcotics and was a full time member of the FBI oint Terrorism Task Force. I left the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office in 2011 and went to work for the Desoto Parish Sheriff's Office.
Just recently you had your first professional fight. How was the experience and what do you hope the victory will do for Jeff Humphries?
Jeff Humphries: In late 2011, I finally made the decision that I would pursue the fight career fully. Even though I'm 32-years-old, I feel I'm smarter and more ready than ever. I finally had the time to put into it and was ready to go.
In January 2012, I won the Ascend Combat Lightweight Championship with a second round TKO win over my opponent. In March 2012, I made my Pro Debut at Ascend Combat's "Nothing Personal" and won by TKO/Referee Stoppage 24-seconds in the first round. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I had a ton of support from family, friends, coworkers and sponsor's and to hear the crowd go wild, cheering for me, it was just....almost unreal. A lot of people said that after the win, I looked mad when I left the cage....I wasn't mad at all, I was so overwhelmed with emotion and was afraid to show it so I got out of there as quick as possible!
Finally getting this second chance how do you plan to make the best of this experience?
Jeff Humphries: With full support from my friends and family, I'm ready to take this on and put in the work to be the best! I made a promise to myself and God after the pro debut that I wouldn't fight again until I was 110% ready both physically and mentally and well-rounded in all aspects of MMA.
I'll be traveling to Thailand this summer to train Muay Thai and to immerse myself in the culture. I'm also taking a trip to a very reputable gym up North for some hardcore training. When I return, I'm going to show all the people who doubt me whether it be because of my age or whatever the reason, that I can do this. I can do this because I have the experience, the heart and the drive.
Is there any shout outs you would like to give before we end the interview Jeff?
Jeff Humphries: My family is the driving force behind everything I do! When I lay in bed at night, unable to sleep because my body hurts so bad, I think of them and everyone else that believes in me and that's the reason I get out of bed in the morning and do it again!