Jesus Herrera, a 32-year-old business and family man, is also a fighter. The owner of local restaurant La Palapa (two locations: 1824 W. 3500 South and 5600 W. 6200 South), Herrera has been training as an MMA fighter for the past five years. Currently, he trains with Griffen Reynaud at MMA 21, and is getting ready to fight in the Nov. 4, fights, which he had a little over three weeks to train for. When he isn’t spending time with his family or working endless hours at his restaurants, Herrera is training four days a week, 2-3 hours a day, and though his wife may worry just a little, he plans to continue his hobby for as long as he can.
Why he started MMA training • “I wanted a sport where I can be physical. I was training at Gold’s Gym and I needed my body to work out more and get in better shape. That wasn’t working out. I always liked MMA, so I enrolled in one of the schools here in Salt Lake. It’s very challenging and I wanted to see how I felt going into the cage.”
The feeling of fighting in the cage • “It’s almost like being in a car accident. Everything goes like that fast, in seconds. You start the round and by the time you notice, five minutes are gone. It goes really fast. Each round is five minutes and there are three rounds.”
Being a hobby fighter • “I wake up every day at 6 or 7 in the morning. I go and work, come here [MMA 21] at 11 a.m., go back to work and come back and bring my kids [who take kids classes at MMA 21]. That’s right now while I am training for a fight but on a regular schedule, it’s the same, seven days a week I work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., then come and train, then go home because I don’t have the energy to do anything else.”
Training through the exhaustion • “[I get discouraged] when I’m super tired out of excessive work and excessive training but I love it. I come here and I feel sleepy and tired and I do my workout and all the stress from the business, from the family; it helps a lot mentally. It’s a good medicine. A lot of people that have the same routine that I have, they are big and overweight, they always have medical problems.”
Encouraging someone to try the sport • “The first thing is they have to like the sport. But it makes you feel good. Your body gets in good shape and it just relaxes you. I feel like that, it relaxes me a lot. And if they like to be challenged then this is the place.”
(Photo by Scott Sommerdorf for Now in Salt Lake)