Live from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, Bellator 125 featured another night of non-stop action from some of the best athletes in Mixed Martial Arts. It’s safe to say the event was one for the record books, offering a night which featured a highlight first round knockout finish by Melvin Manhoef and Rafael Carvalho scoring an impressive victory in his company debut over Brian Rogers. In addition to the headline bouts Bellator 125 also marked the return of Strikeforce veteran Nate James, whose return to action has reignited a passion for competing and aspirations of reaching the top of the MMA ladder.

The purity of Mixed Martial Arts fighting is something Nate James has always embraced since his humble start eight years ago. With an extended wrestling background, competition has always been in his blood which has been a significant aid in his drive to becoming a great mixed martial arts fighter. In addition to his own personal goals, motivating and teaching other practitioners is another influence which keeps James dedicated to his profession.

“I love how pure this sport can be and competing in it, “said James. “Now that I’m getting older I enjoy giving back through teaching which has been a big part of what has kept me in the game for so long. In addition, there is that golden belt I still haven’t captured yet.”

Yet every athlete has their share of low points in their career and James is no exception. James would experience this with a loss to Derek Brunson at Strikeforce: Challengers 20 in 2011. Bad strategy midway into the fight and a stolen car full of training gear ultimately derailed his plans of coming out on top against the gamed Brunson. The confrontation subsequently also marked the last time fight fans would see James in the octagon, or so we thought at the time.

“Was walking out to my car to tweet about the fight against Brunson and it was gone which had all my training gear in it. Looking back, however, the biggest reason for the loss is I had the wrong expectation and was slow to adjust during the fight.”

After the loss in Strikeforce, a series of events would put Nate James’ competition plans on halt: training injuries, a health condition becoming gluten intolerant, and his departure from the place he got his start, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). With his health gradually getting better, James would later become the sparring partner of some of the UFC’s elite, such as Jake Shields, while also honing his grappling skills at Claudio Franco Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Academy and striking with Andy Fong. Nevertheless, deep down his full potential as a competitor wasn’t close to being reached, bringing James to the realization he wasn’t too far from one day stepping back in action competing against the best in the world.

“Even with all that was going on with my health I felt I’ve come too far to walk away from this sport now and really wanted to get back out there.”

Flash forward three years later, he would be propositioned with that opportunity he was waiting for. Taking the fight on one-week short notice, Nate James made his return to action at Bellator 125 against Deaththrone Base Camp Prospect Anthony Ruiz. 100 % healthy, proper balance of nutrition and with a new fight team supporting him, James’ hiatus did not affect his performance in the fight. Not missing a beat, he was able to match his opponent move for move en route to securing a hard fought split decision victory against Ruiz.

“It felt awesome to be back out there,” James said. “It was the most relaxed I ever been going into a fight.”

Improving his record to 14 wins, the fight signified a long hard journey back to the cage for Nate James. Highly motivated, James looks to take his training to the next level in hopes of achieving the highest standard and above all continue to embrace the purity that is showcased in Mixed Martial Arts.

Nate James would like to thank his coaches and sponsors; Andy Fong, Claudio Franca’s BJJ in San Jose, Want vs Need, GFY gear, Self -Defined, Nearfall, Premiere Sport and Spine, Oak Grove Tech., and Foods for Athletes: Black MP Living Water. Also Thanks to Bellator, for the opportunity.

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.