BERLIN, Md. - It all started at a young age for Mike Otwell. Like most kids raised in the 90's, he loved a certain group of superheros.
"At that time, it was the Power Rangers, everyone wanted to be a Power Ranger. So I took him out to find a formal school to start training in again and started him when he was 5 in Tae-Kwon Do," said his brother Tim Otwell who got his career started.
The kicking and punching drew him in, and 20 years later, it still has a hold on Otwell. Based out of Berlin, the 28-year self-described freestyle fighter is looking to make an unprecedented jump in the MMA world when he makes his Bellator debut on November 3rd.
"All of a sudden we get a call, someone says I have something great for your fighting career. I'm like, what could this possibly be," said Mike. "So she sends me a text message and says Bellator's looking. I'm like, 'I'm in! Just send me the info, I don't care who I'm fighting, I need to get on that show.'"
He's a rare talent with a laundry list of accolades. A national champion of three different martial arts styles, one of the youngest, in the world, to reach a fourth degree black belt in Eskrima, and was once ranked in the top ten nationally in Brazilian Ji-Jitsu.
"The pride that I have in the things that he does. Sitting here watching him train now, it just makes me proud. He's an amazing young man," said Tim.
But fighting's not his only job. Mike owns, operates trains and teaches at Infinity Martial Arts Gym in Berlin, bringing the lessons he's learned along the way to the community.
"I think its a great thing for the kids to be able to see that their mentors, their instructors, their teachers that they can actually do what they're saying. That, that is the important part for the kids, and that's really what drives me for sure," the 6-1 fighter said.
And at this point, it's not about the wins and losses, it's all about his students.
"They're pretty awesome when it comes to it too. Talk about support. Like, they'll make signs, big old green signs, and everything, and they get into it," Mike added. "No one in this area has done this. I want to be that guy. I want to be the hometown hero, that's what everyone wants to be right? So that's what we're going for."
Mike will be making his national debut on Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State against Michael Trizano, who's currently undefeated. If you want to watch the fight, it will be streamed online, but if you're not able to catch it, we'll be updating you here at 47ABC when we get the results.
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