In between his art classes, Ian Stonehouse, 22, is throwing kicks and punches, spending his free time at the Evolution dojo and always working to become an Ultimate Fighting Champion fighter.
“It’s hard when I’m tired at the end of the day, but I try to just take it in stride and relax when I find myself getting upset,” he said.
MTV’s “True Life,” a documentary-esque series, featured Stonehouse, describing the CSU junior graphic design major on their Web site as a “typical college student who just happens to have a passion for cage fighting.”
Stonehouse started training for the UFC at 19 years old after witnessing his first mixed martial arts fight.
According to the UFC’s official Web site, mixed martial arts is “an intense and evolving combat sport in which competitors use interdisciplinary forms of fighting that include jiu-jitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling.”
Stonehouse said he believes the sport to be “the utmost form of competition.”
“The biggest thing for me is to get people to think about (UFC fighting) in a different light — it’s not full of Neanderthals,” Stonehouse said.
“So many fighters are the classiest guys I’ve ever met, with the best sportsmanship and respect.”
Stonehouse made his professional debut in January; he has a record of seven wins and zero losses in amateur competitions.
He also has three titles in the Midwest and is sponsored by Destiny Chiropractic, Anytime Fitness and Sinister — an action sports design and art company.
His road to this success, however, was not easy or injury-free. He broke his hand four times, leading him to have a metal plate inserted, which kept him out of competition for about a year.
“It was just so frustrating,” Stonehouse said. “I was thinking to myself, ‘I don’t know if I should keep breaking my hand every two months,’ but I decided to give it another try.”
Stonehouse’s persistence in his sport paid off in January when, as a joke, he sent an e-mail to MTV suggesting that they feature him on “True Life.”
He received a phone call from the TV company the next day and shooting began immediately after.
Stonehouse’s episode premiered two weeks ago, just two days before his birthday. He said he watched the show with his girlfriend and family.
“It was kind of crazy to see him on there, but he’s worked hard, and he’s a really centered and low key guy. It’s kind of like he has a split personality,” Stonehouse’s mother, Gerry Drower, said with a chuckle.
For Stonehouse, seeing himself on TV and getting recognized by classmates has been strange.
“I’m not used to that attention,” he said.
More importantly for Stonehouse, he said, promotional companies have started taking notice.
“I’m training harder — getting recognized more, not only by people but promotions too, means I’m going to need to be ready,” he said.
He trains every day and is currently cutting weight, which he said makes it hard to focus on school sometimes.
For the more distant future, Stonehouse said he wants to keep both graphic design and fighting in his life.
“Right now my priority is school, but I want to take a shot at fighting,” he said. “And I have something to fall back on if I suck at it.”
One of his sponsors, Sinister, has offered Stonehouse a unique opportunity that combines both of his passions: designing his own shirt to be sold online.
“Doing both would be awesome,” he said.
Staff writer Rachel Survil can be reached at email@example.com.