SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: The Ghost
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - No matter how bad your worst job interview went, chances are, you probably were not punched in the face. Later this month a Lafayette man interviews for his dream job and a punch in the face is the easy part.
On the mats inside Gladiator’s Academy in Lafayette, kids test each other every week. Their strength, their grit, their mind. They have to in order to exell at the combat sport of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. “You have a decision, a conversation that goes on in your head.” said trainer AJ Fletcher.
Most days, it’s a friendly mat session, but Fletcher knows tests like these matter. “You can turn and run and look for a way out -- give your opponent an easy submission,” he said, “or you can take that.”
When he is not training kids, The Ghost, as Fletcher is known in the cage, is testing himself. “The first time I got in the ring was a sparring match,” Fletcher said. “I got dropped with a body shot. All the air I ever breathed left my body.”
That was more than five years ago. Since then, he’s come a long way: 10 amateur fights, and an undefeated 8-0 record since turning pro. “When the door closes, you can’t lie to yourself anymore,” Fletcher said. “Fighting is truth. Whatever comes out in there, most of the time is what’s true day-to-day.”
Gladiator’s manager, Josh Artigue has been impressed with Fletcher since he entered the gym five years ago. “Every day I train with him is the most impressive thing about him,” he said. “He puts in the time. He puts in the effort.”
The work has paid off. Fletcher has impressed some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. Now, he’s preparing for the fight of his life. “It’s the most intense job interview you could think of.” One where a punch in the face is the least of his worries.
It’s a three-round test in front of Ultimate Fighting Championship owner, Dana White, and boradcast on ESPN+. At stake, a four-fight contract with the biggest MMA circuit in the world, the UFC. “All the work. all the 5 years. all the late nights, the early mornings, that stuff has paid off.” said Fletcher.
With the brass ring in sight, the tests are constant, from his training partners and his students. “I teach a little kid’s class, and the amount of techniques I learn from those little dudes is incredible,” Fletcher said.
It’s all to leave no doubt in his interview on August 31 in Las Vegas. “The only reason I wouldn’t be able to get there -- It’s not because of anything outside of myself,” Fletcher said. “It’s not because of the world. It’s not because I wouldn’t get a shot. It’s because of me.”
Artigue, who watched MMA’s Dustin Porrier start his championship journey at Gladiator Academy, like’s Fletcher’s chances. “He’s not going to lose for lack of effort, and lack of work,” he said.
Now, it’s up to Flether to go out there and punch some guys in the face and get a contract.
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