Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a tough, hard-hitting, “bad-ass” sport, attracting athletes the likes of Hamilton’s Franklin Jarrett. The 20-year old recently took out the Lightweight Decider at the Road to Las Vegas Fight Night, setting him on the road to represent New Zealand at the highly competitive IMMAF Amateur World Championships in America later this year.
Frank won both fights on consecutive nights to be listed in the 2015 New Zealand team – defeating the highly regard Talor Wetere and Morgan Teasdale for the second time.
Nicknamed Frank ‘the tank’ Jarrett, the talented and determined athlete grew up in Hamilton. His dad is Pakeha and his Mum is Filipino, and Frank is proud to represent his dual heritage.
For the second year running, the IMMAF Amateur World Championships will be part of the UFC International Fight Week. The world’s biggest MMA celebration, it will be Frank’s first chance to realise his goal of becoming a world champion MMA fighter.
Frank grew up competing in wrestling and rugby. After sustaining too many injuries, he gave up on rugby.
He has always had an interest in hand-to-hand combat. Growing up he and his two brothers would play fight. He progressed into boxing at the age of 16.
“I was an amateur boxer for about two to three years under the tutelage of Dr Raymond Richards who taught me everything I know with my hands, he is the mastermind of the sweet science.”
Frank eventually moved into MMA, combining his passion for both boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ).
“When I was 15 I started watching MMA highlights of Mirko Cro Cop’s left high kick knockouts- he is a vicious southpaw (left-handed stance, same as Frank). Also I was a huge fan of Manny Pacquiao, one of the greats of boxing.
“I started as an amateur boxer and cross trained BJJ with my big brother in our lounge at home until 3 am in the morning (so dad didn’t find out). We joined CORE MMA and entered our first BJJ competition after two formal trainings with Carlo Meister and I picked up a silver medal.”
Frank has since gone on to claim the Sanda Oceania and New Zealand Championships. He also has a black belt in CORE MMA’s Kickboxing programme, under Sensei Phil Beale and Carlo Meister.
To be competitive at this level of MMA requires a high training load. This necessitates endless dedication and professionalism from Frank, who also works full-time.
“I start off training (six times a week) with a seven to eight kilometre run. I then drive to the dojo at CORE MMA for a one hour wrestling or jiu jitsu class, proceeding to a vigorous fitness circuit, and then I’ll hit boxing or kick boxing pads for at least six times three-minute rounds.”
Alternatively, “I’ll head to San Bu Kai where Master Terry Hill trains me for kick boxing and is a mastermind all round in the fight game (being a world champion himself).
He has taught me countless techniques, which I use in my MMA fights,” explains Frank.
He says he enjoys competing in MMA because it challenges him both physically and mentally.
“You’re always thinking and always hungry to win.”
Due to the nature of the sport, it is expected that he has sustained injury or two at some stage. The worst was a fractured collarbone.
“It was minor; if I’m still alive then I still compete,” he says.
To overcome his injury, Frank explains how he used multiple approaches to aid his recovery.
“After my collarbone incident I was back on the mats and hitting pads within two weeks, recovery time is reduced when you’re fit and supplementing your training with the right food and products.”
However, he says, “My biggest challenge was losing 13kg at end of January after a holiday in Europe, but hard work and dedication pays off.”
Competing in the lightweight division, he is required to weigh in at under 70.3kg, which makes nutrition another important part of his sport.
When asked what MMA and CORE MAA has done for him, Frank says, “It has given me a brotherhood and people I trust; the grounds to train and hone my skill; and memories that will last forever.”
For those wanting to become involved in MMA Frank offers some sound advice.
“MMA is a serious sport, if you have a dream, follow it, don’t listen to people that say otherwise. Most importantly, hone your skills and specialise in something then start to sharpen your blades and round off your other disciplines. Dedication and focus is key.”
There is currently no funding available to support the amateur team to Las Vegas. If you are interested in helping Frank and his coach get to Las Vegas for the World Championships, please go to: www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/frankjarrett