Walking away from the chance of a lifetime isn’t an easy thing to do. This is especially true within the extremely competitive landscape that is mixed martial arts.

Most fighters will be handed an opportunity that could change their career in ways that they could never imagine, and they run at it full steam ahead, without thinking about it first. Whilst the risk may often pay off, it takes a bigger man to realize that perhaps the opportunity just isn’t meant to be.

Justin “The Hawk” Steave is one of those bigger men. In the early parts of 2012, it seemed as though things were beginning to pick up for Steave after he had signed with Bellator MMA. Soon after the news—and before he could make his debut with the promotion—Steave sought for a release from his contract.

Steave (Twitter.com/JSteave)

“When I lost my fight [in April] last year, I felt that I didn’t deserve to get [to Bellator],” he revealed in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “There were a lot of things that I needed to work on, and I do regret it a bit, but now I am back on the right path.”

Having a comfortable and positive training environment has helped Steave find that path and continue down it. Being based in the very proud area of Pittsburgh, he knows just how important it is to be training with people who are all focused on one goal: being the best professional fighters that they can be.

“There is some phenomenal talent here in the Pittsburgh area,” he exclaimed. “We all want that success and that’s why we are the ‘city of champions.’ Soon enough, there are going to be a lot of top guys coming out of this area. Our gym, Fight Club Pittsburgh, is going to be a household name very soon.”

On the back of a three-fight winning streak, Steave is set to face off with Mike Diggs on June 29 on the Pinnacle FC Pittsburgh Challenger Series 3 card in Pittsburgh.

“I think we match up well. We are pretty evenly matched and we are both pretty good at the same things,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough fight, and he’s a very good striker. A win against him would be just the start of where I am looking to get, and when I do get there I promise to be a name to remember.”

Steave (Twitter.com/JSteave)

Ask just about any fighter that is chasing the dream of being a full-time professional fighter and they will tell you that it’s tough work. Going through training, as well as having a means to provide for your family, can sometimes be too much to handle. In this industry, it’s only the most committed individuals that can prosper.

“I have a two-year-old son and I am doing all of this for him,” he admitted. “I work full-time from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon. You really have to be dedicated in this business. It’s hard sometimes because any time that I spend in the gym is time that I am taking away from my son, so it’s important that I make all the training worth it. I really want to show my son my work ethic, that’s the main thing.”

Even though he could have already been in the spotlight in a much bigger way, Steave is looking to make the rest of 2013 into the time that he shows he has what it takes to get back there. Having already impressed enough people in order to be signed by one of the big three promotions within North America, it won’t take Steave long to get his shot again. And when that time comes, he will be ready to show that although it may look like it’s the much longer route that is being traveled, it’s the right one.

Justin would like to thank his sponsors: Swollen Knuckles Clothing, Intimidation Clothing, Patinodiet.com, Craig’s Lawn Service, Smokey’s Deer Lure, Everlast, Straight To The League, Theo Yianni’s Restaurants, Alternative Esco, Diamond MMA and Off Center Production as well as Fight Club Pittsburgh MMA & The Combat Sports Agency. Follow him on Twitter: @JSteave

Top Photo: Justin Steave (L) connects with a punch (Alexis Salmeron/CFA)

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.