Go to college. Complete higher education. Get a job.

That’s pretty much the basic outline of how life is supposed to work. It’s instilled in the culture of most people as they grow up that, for the most part, life goes this way. What if it doesn’t happen like that, though? And what if a dream that seems so far away turns the success of a degree into a mere afterthought?

Bentley Syler did everything right, but at the same time, he wanted a little bit more. He wanted to see just where his love of mixed martial arts could take him.

“I graduated from medical school in 2011, and right after I graduated I went on to chase my dream,” Syler explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I started off competing in MMA in Bolivia. It was hard keeping up with medical school and training, and now [that I have the degree] I can focus solely on being a fighter. It was a very hard decision to make, especially after working so hard towards graduating.

Syler (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Syler (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“If I was going to make a move into mixed martial arts, I couldn’t just sit around, I had to take the gamble. My brother was living in Florida at the time and training with American Top Team, which is a place that is known all over the world. At first, I stayed with him and I would travel two hours a day to the gym and then two hours back. It was very tough, but it was worth it.”

In his latest appearance inside the cage, Syler defeated Wascar Cruz at CFA 12 via unanimous decision. It was a night of firsts for Syler. It was the first time that the Bolivian had seen the scorecards in his professional career, and the bout was also the first of what he hopes to be many bouts in a new weight division.

“[Cruz] was very tough,” Syler admitted. “He was great on his feet with very good striking, and I thought that I did really well to be able to hold him down. It was very hard on my cardio. It was the first time that I had fought at 125 [pounds], I usually fight at 135, so this was a new experience for me.

“I’m 5-foot-4, so for my size most guys at a top level will be fighting at flyweight. That’s one of the reasons I decided to make the change. There are a lot more opportunities at flyweight as well. A lot of the top companies are looking to fill their divisions, so it’s a good career move.”

Charles McCarthy and Guardian Sports Group are fast building a reputation of bringing together some of the best up-and-coming talent in the United States. Syler is grateful to call Guardian Sports Group his home and is just as grateful to have a close friend looking out for his best interests.

Syler (L) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Syler (L) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

“It’s such a great support network that we have,” Syler said. “Everyone wants to support each other and see each other do well. I met Charles through American Top Team. Our friendship just clicked. I signed on with him at Alchemist, so when he left to create Guardian Sports Group I went along with him. He is one of the most honest and trusting guys I know, so it’s great to have him as my manager.”

Taking his next fight in his home country of Bolivia means that Syler gets to go back to his family around the time of the holidays. Having the opportunity of being able to compete where his career started is something that Syler just couldn’t pass up, and whilst he may still be seen as Dr. Syler to some of those close to him, it’s the aspiring mixed martial artist that they will see when he touches down in his native country again.

“Fighting back home in Bolivia in front of my home crowd is going to be nice,” he said. “I try to get back there at least twice a year, and this time I will be having my fight on Dec. 7 and then get to spend Christmas and New Year’s with my family and friends, so that is something that is really exciting for me.”

The thing about life is that some things are always going to be there. Whether it’s five, 10 or even 15 years from now, Syler can still practice medicine. The need that people have for a doctor isn’t going away any time soon. There are only so many years that an athlete can compete at the top of their game, though, and that is what Syler has resting firmly at the front of his mind. He was able to graduate from medical school, and now Syler gets the chance to graduate inside the cage. That is something that he plans to do with full honors.

Bentley would like to thank Slacker’s Bar and Grill Ft. Lauderdale, MMA Owl and Guardian Sports Group.

Top Photo: Bentley Syler (top) (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.