Davis County teacher tackles MMA outside the classroom

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WEST POINT -- Jordan Smith is a 7th grade science teacher at West Point Junior High School. In the classroom, they call him "Mr. Smith," but he also happens to be one of the top mixed martial artists in the state of Utah and a rising star in the sport.

"The opportunity presented itself to become a teacher," says Smith. "I thought, hey, this is a challenge I would really like to take."

Smith attended McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., where he earned a degree in biology. While in school, his brother Jake took him to an amateur MMA event in St. Louis. It was all Jordan needed to fall in love with the sport.

The kids just think it's cool. They see you in a different light and get to respect you as something more than just the person that yells at them and tells them to do their homework. And the plus side is nobody acts tough in my classroom.

–Jordan Smith

"When I saw it live it was different from seeing it in television," says Smith. "It just made me really want to do it. So as soon as football ended I started training and haven't looked back since."

It was in the fall of 2007 that Jordan accepted the teaching position at West Point, which has helped further his career in MMA. It was a move that has also benefited the students at the Davis County school.

"Jordan brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the school," says Principal David Birch. "He's a great teacher. He makes science fun with a lot of hands-on experiences and he relates well to students and students enjoy him. He's just an excellent teacher."

But the students aren't the only ones having fun.

"Teaching has become one of the most fulfilling things I will ever get to do in my life," Jordan says.

When he isn't teaching lessons in the classroom, he is teaching lessons in the cage. Jordan has a 15-1 professional record. His only loss was on Spike TV's reality show, "The Ultimate Fighter."

At first, Jordan was worried what parents and administration might think about his "side job," but once word spread he was surprised by their reaction.

"Everybody was way supportive and the kids just think it's cool," Jordan says. "They see you in a different light and get to respect you as something more than just the person that yells at them and tells them to do their homework. And the plus side is nobody acts tough in my classroom."

Jordan is a contrast to the many stereotypes that people have about mixed martial artists, and even fellow fighters are surprised by this 7th grade science teacher.

"They underestimate you when you don't look like a fighter," he says. "Then I get into the cage and I turn it on and I turn into a demon. I let all my frustrations out when I get in the cage."

Jordan is quick to point out the importance of intelligence in the ring. He also has learned a great deal from the sport he loves.

"Strength in the face of adversity," he says. "The true mark of a champion is what you do after you lose. Who can lose and still come back and be a champion?"

All important life lessons he hopes to share with his students and others.

"MMA definitely teaches you how to be tough when things don't go your way," Jordan says.

You can catch Jordan's next "WCFC Proving Grounds" fight:

  • Jordan Smith vs. Brandon Melendez
  • Saturday, June 5
  • The Rail Event Center
  • 235 N. 500 West Salt Lake City


E-mail: jjensen@ksl.com


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Jeremiah Jensen


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