Third professional fight will be for Featherweight Title
ENCINITAS — In just less than five minutes, in two fights ended by two TKOs, Alex Higley has embarked on his Mixed Martial Arts fighting career undefeated.
And now, the 29-year-old fighter from Encinitas will be entering just his third professional fight — this one for the Xplode Fight Series’ Featherweight Title — an extremely rare situation in the world of MMA, but a testament to the readiness of Higley.
His next fight Aug. 23 is against Raja Shippen (13-8-1), a fighter with more professional fighting experience, says Higley’s supporters.
“Alex is definitely the underdog,” said Jeff Clark, one of Higley’s trainers at Blackline MMA in Carlsbad. “Alex is going in as the underdog, which to me is good though. Alex really wanted the challenge, he wants to step up, he didn’t want to fight low-level guys,” he said.
“I kind of like those fights because everyone thinks you’re supposed to lose, so I think if he pulls off a win it really makes much more (of) a statement on how strong a fighter he is,” Clark added.
Shippen’s a tough guy, Higley said. “He’s had way more fights than I have, professionally. He’s been doing MMA a lot longer.”
On paper, Higley admitted, it looked like a bad fight for him.
“But I don’t care how people see it,” he said. “I know what I’m there to do and I’m definitely ready to take that belt home.”
Higley made the decision to go from being a general manager of a local sports gym to pro fighter within the past year.
The decision, he said, was “just to see how far I could take it. It was more just about challenging and pushing myself. That’s the real joy that I get out of it. I look at it as martial arts — it’s testing myself out there — my skills against someone else’s skills. It’s definitely not a violence thing,” he said.
Higley’s a very hard worker, and he’s well rounded because he’s been doing kickboxing since he was little, Clark said. “He’s always willing to do the hard stuff with a smile on his face.”
Higley has been around one form of martial arts and kickboxing since he was young. Growing up, he was a “mat rat,” wrestling at Digueno Middle School and later at La Costa Canyon High School.
A full-time teacher at Blackline MMA, Higley said his biggest passions were instructing kickboxing and his work as a personal trainer.
“I think any good coach is always willing to be a student,” he said. “I’m fortunate to work with the best coaches around, Clark, Brian Whittaker, Adam Heard, who’s really helped me get to this point,” Higley said.
“As far as being a fighter, I plan on doing more fights and hopefully after this one maybe there’ll be some interest from the UFCs and Bellator — the big leagues that we all aspire to get to.”
The Xplode Fight Series features a full fight card Aug. 23 in Valley Center.
Visit alexhigley.com for tickets and more information.