The odds have always been stacked against former Bellator standout Jason Sampson.

It began in his younger days as a football player with a local organization in Coppell, Texas.

“I was always the smallest guy,” Sampson told The MMA Corner. “I loved to play football, but I was always considered too small.”

“I didn’t let that hold me back, though. Even though I was the smallest guy on the field, I was still the hardest hitter. The coaches thought I was crazy, man. The littlest guy out there was hitting everyone the hardest,” Sampson reminisced. “That’s how my nickname, “The Wild Thing” originated.”

“Wild Thing”, indeed.

But as the years progressed, Sampson found being the smallest guy was the least of his worries.

In addition to football, Sampson fell in love with wrestling over the years. And following high school graduation, Sampson enrolled to the Apprentice School in Newport, VA to continue his wrestling career.

Sampson was on the mat competing against Lafayette College of Pennsylvania when a true, but unpreventable tragedy occurred. After securing double underhooks from the back position, Sampson went for the pin, but instead snapped several vertebrates in his opponent’s neck. His opponent was immediately paralyzed, much like Sampson’s soul would be for years to come.

**MMA Fighter Finding Peace Years After Accidentally Breaking Opponent’s Neck**

In the years that followed, Sampson’s opponent pursued a lawsuit that would prevent him from ever wrestling again. What Sampson considered his purpose in life literally vanished right before his eyes. Nearly two years later, Sampson was found innocent, but nothing in life could ever equalize the days, weeks, and years that were lost.

Now nearly 13 years removed from the most horrific incident of his life, Sampson has found new meaning to life.

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“Life knocks you down, plain and simple,” Sampson said. “But I told myself that I was never going to let life keep me down. I’ve found purpose in fighting and that’s what keeps me going. I have an incredible support system who’s stuck by me, and that’s the reason I can fight on.”

Sampson who went 3-0 with Bellator, will now strap on the gloves with Legacy Fighting Championship. And on Feb. 13, “The Wild Thing” will return to action when he meets former UFC veteran Joseph Sandoval at LFC 38 at the Allen Event Center in Allen, TX.

After spending the majority of his career fighting at 135 pounds, Sampson will make the transition to flyweight when he squares off with Sandoval in a few short days. With the drop to 125 pounds, Sampson is confident it’s only a matter of time until the world’s top promotion comes calling.

“You can only worry about the things that you can control,” Sampson said. “I started fighting professionally when I was 27 years old. I started much later than the normal fighter because of my unfortunate circumstances. I was behind the eight ball from the very beginning, but I never let that stop me from achieving my dreams. It would be a dream come true to fight in the UFC. Growing up as a kid, I’ve always wanted to fight in the UFC.”

“If I keep on winning, they can’t deny me. I’m on the brink of capturing a long-time dream of mine and there’s no one or anything that can get in the way of that dream,” Sampson said. “I’m so close.”

With the lack of depth in the UFC’s flyweight division, it’s quite feasible that Joe Silva and Sean Shelby have Sampson’s number on file. But even with the innumerable possibilities that lay before Sampson, he’s not ready to look past Sandoval just yet.

“I know that it’s easy to get so excited for what’s in the future that you miss what’s right in front of you,” Sampson said. “At this very moment in time, I’m completely focused on Sandoval. Not only am I focused, but I can see him when I close my eyes. This fight is mine to take and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will win this fight.”

“Not only will I win it, but I will put him away in the first round.”

Follow @GarrettDerr on Twitter. 

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