Buried underneath the rubble lies an inner turmoil every fighter has stored inside of them. Each individual brings a story with them to the cage which fuels their ambitions to attain greatness as they make their rise up the MMA ladder.

It is very hard to find a stream of light in the midst of the darkness one experiences in life. Fortunately for Legacy FC flyweight contender Ryan Hollis, life’s trials have molded him into becoming quite the fighter, capable of handling anything the rocky road throws at him.

The building of Ryan Hollis all surfaces from his rough upbringing. It is said that size doesn’t matter, but unfortunately in Hollis’ case, it did, as his small stature made him an easy target of ridicule and bullying by his peers.

“I’ve never had the easy road, with anything in my life,” Hollis revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I’ve never had anything handed to me on a silver platter. [I] have always had to hunt or dig for what I wanted. Growing up in areas that was thug friendly, going to school and being bullied or made fun of due to my size and young appearance.”

Hollis (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

Troubles always have a way of entering into a person’s life for various reasons. Evidently, for Hollis, enduring the hard-knock life he suffered growing up was a mere prologue for the major challenge ahead, as he soon found himself taking on the occupation of a mixed martial arts fighter.

Gradually sculpting himself at the HardHead Hitters in Cleveland, Texas, this unique outlet has not only given Hollis a place to perfect his fighting skills, but also to fill a personal void he always yearned for, through the friendships he made on the mat. This appreciation for his surroundings has made a profound impact on the young Texan’s life. So much so that his gratitude is displayed in writing with a tattoo, honoring his gym, on his chest.

“When something really touches me in my life it earns a spot on my body, which in this case has been my school,” Hollis explained. “It has kept me happy at times when I was down and all I had was my gym to train. At times when I had no friends and all I had was my teammates. The happiness they brought me and the great training/skills I learned from them.”

Stepping into the cage can be a nerve-wrecking and scary period for most competitors. However, if you compare it to the situations Hollis has endured in his life, going into a fight is no problem, which makes it fairly easy for Hollis to cope with the rising danger while in the heat of battle.

Content with becoming the best, this heavy hitter’s voyage in the fight world is a great tale of determination, perseverance and conviction in the firm belief that he is a great fighter. In his early stages as an amateur fighting for Garcia Promotions and the Legacy amateur series, Hollis found the perfect platform for testing and showcasing his skills to the world.

The humble beginning found Hollis obtaining an impressive amateur record while also earning a title belt along the way This process assisted in strengthening his confidence level, which made his transition to the pro ranks that much more exciting.

“The coming up was hard because of the way I look; I don’t have the usual appearance of the average fighter,” Hollis said. “So my first few fights, people looked at me like I was just lucky. Or maybe my opponent sucked. But each fight, I can feel respect from my people growing.”

Fairly new as a pro, his presence in the Legacy Fighting Championship brings a new wave of excitement, leaving fans on the edge of their seats in regards to this fearless unpredictable fighter. Whoever stands across the cage from Hollis is in for a war, as this fighter’s motive is to destroy his opponent at all costs.

“When I fight, I come out to hurt someone, I like to stand and bang with my hands, throw crazy kicks,” Hollis explained. “Even if I’m on my back on the ground, you will see me throwing elbows or hammer fists, trying to knock my opponent’s head off.”

Recently experiencing a slight hurdle in his split decision loss to MTV reality star Matt Schnell, Hollis’ ambitions weren’t hampered. After all, he went through much worse trials before his fighter career. Learning from his loss, Hollis quickly bounced back with his recent win over Matt Thompson.

Proving doubters wrong is a great feat that any person can accomplish. From his days of yearning for acceptance from society, Hollis has transformed into a man with goals, thanks in part to mixed martial arts. Far from reaching his destination of UFC prominence, competing against the best and providing a better life for his family is all the motivation he needs to continue his climb up the mountain.

“Looking back at my journey, I’ve learned I was right all along,” Hollis admitted. “I was told by so many people for so many years that I couldn’t do this; that I was too small or too skinny; that these people that train to fight are beasts and I would get hurt. But that is what pushed me. I wanted to prove people wrong…Just like our moms told us growing up, you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

Photo: Ryan Hollis (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

About The Author

Monta Wiley
Staff Writer

Monta Wiley is an aspiring sports journalist that has covered the world of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has been a regular contributor to US Combat Sports. Monta has a Bachelor's degree in Aviation Administration from California State University-Los Angeles. Outside of his writing, you can find Monta at the gym honing his BJJ technique.