Michael Ballard is a professional mixed martial artist who has competed in everything from MMA to kickboxing to Combat Jiu-Jitsu for nearly 20 years now.
Michael has always been super supportive of the ENDO Athletics brand and all of the ENDO events. Not only does he still actively compete, but he does so while also attending law school! We were recently able to catch up with him and get an up to date report on whats going on in his life.
EA: You've been in Combat Sports now for close to two decades, what would you say personally has been your biggest accomplishment as a competitor.
MB: Wow, that is a tough question. Usually I would say any positive impact I have had on the mentality and work ethic of the younger generation, but you specified competitor. Due to that criteria I believe the biggest accomplishment I have had is the fact that I have fought the best at their best. By that I mean I fought Ace Samples, once known to have "the fastest hands in the region" in boxing and kickboxing. I have fought countless top BJJ competitors, gym owners, and instructors in BJJ, from Des Jordan to Michael Bartlett. Of course, I also fought Ahmet Kayretli and Caleb Archer in MMA when everyone else was running. I slammed the snot out of Steven New, in fact I took down, almost always with a crowd pleasing slam, all the above except Ahmet and Ace.
EA: With that being said and by also looking at your record, you can see you have fought a who's who list of competitors. Out of everyone you have been in there with, who would you say was your hardest opponent and why?
MB: My hardest opponent would have to be Ahmet Kayretli. At the time I fought him he was ranked #3 in the East Coast at our weight class. In fact, the promoter threw me an extra amount to take the fight after innumerable opponents backed out and he couldn't find anyone to fight. He moved well and engaged when and how he wanted. I couldn't force him into a "messy fight" like I usually can technical guys. He hit like a truck and I ended up KO'ed after a perfectly timed knee.
EA: You've competed in everything from MMA to BJJ to Combat Jiu-Jitsu to Kickboxing. Out of all of those, which do you prefer to compete in and why?
MB: Honestly, five years ago I would have said CJJ. I really enjoy standing and striking now, so maybe MMA. I wish I had this comfortability and knowledge years ago so I could apply it. MMA will always be my first love.
EA: Speaking of striking, you were injured the last time we saw you out there in your kickboxing bout with Joseph Snyder. Has the injury healed and how has training been after the injury?
MB: I hate to correct you, but the last time I was seen in the cage was a grappling match with Christian McNutt immediately after I had snapped my first metacarpal (the long bone in your hand right below your thumb) in half. I had surgery on the thumb days after that which saw pins be placed in my first metacarpal to hold it together for 6 weeks. I rehabbed it and training has been great and it is good to go now! I heal ridiculously quick and well.
EA: That's good to hear! When can we expect to see you compete again and what are the goals this year?
MB: I want to compete until I get my Juris Doctorate, so at least 3 more years. My goals are to live in the moment and keep working the younger guys hard. I would like to strike at least once more, but I know I am competing CJJ and BJJ for ENDO Athletics soon. I always excite the fans and plan to again everytime I step in the cage.
EA: Thank you for the time and best of luck this year with both competing and with law school! Is there any shout outs or any last words you'd like to get out there to everyone?
MB: No problem. I always enjoy spreading the love with the MMA community and its fans. Shout out to my kids, wife and Western Kentucky University. I will be choosing my Law School top-recruit style at ENDO Athletics Underground in May, so be there in person for the first time (to my knowledge) this has been done for Law School. Rise Above (your problems, your distractions, the haters, whatever is holding you back) Everyone!