VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY)- Unlike most kids growing up in Chesapeake, Matt Van Buren did not play sports. Instead he got caught up with a bad crowd and learned a valuable life lesson. “I’ve had a lot of friends die from drug over doses and things like that. I’ve had a lot of friends spend time in prison. Its kind of good to be exposed to that at a young age, so when you get older and in the spotlight you’re not phased by that stuff,” says Van Buren.
So Van Buren turned to Mixed Martial Arts and had instant success. He turned professional about 3 years ago in the light heavyweight division and will be featured on FOX Sports One’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show. “The show can change your life, The show is aired world-wide so everybody in MMA is watching so it’s a really big deal,” added Van Buren.
Van Buren first tried out for The Ultimate Fighter along with 100 other fighters in Indianapolis. After a series of tests, he made the cut and is one of 32 who will fighting until the end on the 12 week reality show. “Just get you to that next level. You know, UFC the top of the food chain for MMA,” added van Buren.
Van Buren now lives and trains in San Diego, but came home to host a viewing party with family and friends. He mixed in a workout at the Hybrid Training Center in Virginia Beach with longtime Muay Thai instructor Harvey Grasse who says Van Buran’s style is direct and to the point. “When he gets in there he is just really calm, calculating guy. He brings it to you. He isn’t wild. He tries to make every move precise,” said Grasse.
Van Buren hopes his appearance on the Ultimate Fighter will lead to bigger and better things in his fighting career. As for getting in the cage, he says there not feeling quite like it. “Its nerve-wracking. It’s always a nerve-wracking experience getting in the ring, but it’s always the highest adrenaline rushes you can feel. Luckily your adrenaline is so high that you could get hit in the head by a hammer and not feel a thing until hours later,” said Van Buren.