Written by @NickRiznerMMA
Thousands upon thousands of hungry hopefuls populate the regional circuit; each and every one of them driving towards the same goal. A select few will dedicate their lives to this sport. Of those few, even fewer will make it to the national stage. And only the elite of the elite will ever compete inside the Octagon.
There is no one formula. No single path to success. But every now and then, someone breaks through. And when all the stars align for a fighter who possesses the physical skill set and mental fortitude to succeed, a superstar is born. It all comes down to hard work, dedication, and little bit of luck.
With that, enter Josh Blyden.
Josh is an undefeated featherweight with a 4-0 professional record. He’s earned stoppages in three of those four fights, and on October 16th, he submitted Nick Sprayberry in the very first round of his Legacy FC debut.
Born in Harlem, a twelve-year old Josh Blyden moved with his mother down to Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind all that he knew about family, culture, and life itself.
I’ve been here more than half my life, so it’s a place I really consider my second home. I’ll always consider New York as home though. It’s where all my family still lives. I spent a good bit of my childhood back and forth from Georgia to New York, so I’m familiar with both places.
I wouldn’t say it was extremely rough living in Savannah, but more of a culture shock. Just the change in environment was something that took me a while to get used to. Moving away from family was one of the hardest things about it, but Savannah is definitely a place that has grown on me as I got older. I’ve learned to appreciate the different way of living, compared to the fast pace of a city.
Recently, he received accolades from UFC Middleweight, Josh Samman, who appeared on Episode 304 of the MMA Hour. As the owner of Combat Night, a regional promotion down in Florida, Samman was asked which up-and-coming fighters people should be looking out for. He had this to say in response:
The guy that I would keep an eye on – that fought for us, I think he took his debut with us, was champion for about a year before he went pro – his name was Josh Blyden. I think he’s fighting for Legacy right now. He’s probably the guy to watch.
In an appearance on the MMA Mad Podcast, Samman elaborated on his experience with Blyden:
Josh is a good kid. When we first began Combat Night, Josh and his team were some of the guys competing against the local guys in Tallahassee where we first began our shows. And Josh ended up beating a few guys who were friends of mine and stuff. That’s all part of the game. It’s just part of the business.
But to see him go on and continue to do good things, and look to be well on his way to the UFC or another large national or international promotion… it’s very rewarding man. It’s one of the reasons why I do this. To give these guys the same opportunities we had when we were first starting our careers.
When you work hard at something, people begin to take notice. This has been Blyden’s approach from the beginning. Trash talk. Self promotion. Building your brand. These are tools that can be used to get a leg up on the competition. But Blyden prefers the old school approach. Actions over words.
I’m sure it definitely speeds up the process. Gotta be likable, to a certain extent, if you wanna brand yourself in the sport. Whether it’s branding yourself as a slick talker or showing it in the ring, you wanna be entertaining. If you can pull off both, then you’re going places. I personally prefer to do all my talking in the ring. Plus I have a good fan base, so I believe I have everything I need to be successful in this sport.
My goal is to continue to finish and put on great fights. I’m taking the Jose Aldo and Thomas Almeida approach to the sport. Those guys go out there and smash everyone they put in front of them, until you can’t deny them. So I look to follow those examples.
It’s all about finding that balance. Maintaining a certain level of hunger, while making intelligent decisions at every turn. Every move made should be towards one goal. Any and all distractions are to be avoided. This has been Blyden’s approach since day one, and by eliminating the outside influences that may deter from his dream, he was able to dedicate all his efforts towards its manifestation.
Josh Blyden has created a lifestyle in which he can focus all of his energy on one vision. One goal.
Getting to the highest point in the sport is extremely difficult. But it’s something I’ve set myself up for my entire life. I was always a guy that stayed debt free. I have no kids, no student loans, no major issues that would keep me from pursuing my dream. I’m blessed to have good friends and a good family, so I always had a place to rest my head.
I’m currently the kids boxing coach at Champions Training Center. I’m also doing personal training and help run a boot camp program there. I’ve made training and fighting my full time job. I’ve given myself no reason not to succeed. I feel firmly that if I just stay on this path, I’ll reach my goals and get to the big stage.
So much of life appears to be black and white. You win or you lose. Everything comes together or everything falls apart. Either you fully realize your dreams or you scrap them completely. This is an overly-simplistic way of viewing the world. In reality, life is not black and white. It’s comprised of infinite shades of grey.
The definition of Josh Blyden’s success will change as the perimeters do, but the result will remain the same. There are a million reasons why one person makes it to the UFC and another does not. It’s a complicated path with unpredictable outcomes. But no matter where this journey takes him, Josh’s passion will carry him towards endless achievement.
I believe all the goals I set for myself are achievable. I don’t think for a second that I won’t get there. I’m still pretty young, so I have a good bit of time in the sport, but I have already made goals for my life after MMA. My coach had me make a one-year, five-year, and ten-year plan when I started fighting.
I’m a prize fighter.I fight to complete the goals I set for myself, as well as to brand myself for any business ventures I decide to pursue after my fight career is over. I’ll work towards establishing a gym, of course. I’ll continue competing and improving in BJJ. Martial arts is something I want to do with the rest of my life, so I plan to continue on that path. I’ll always be involved in fighting and martial arts in some way. For the rest of my life.
This much is known. Josh Blyden will find his success; no matter it’s form.