Joining the military doesn’t mean you only serve your country, even though that’s clearly the main objective. It can also afford you the opportunity to see the world and experience places that you may not otherwise get to visit.
That was certainly the case for one of the new members of the Legacy Fighting Alliance, Travis Quintero. While the Oklahoman primarily decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps as a way to provide for his family, he also had the opportunity to travel to countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Germany, Ireland and Romania.
Of course, being a Marine meant that Quintero might see some action, such as when he was deployed to Afghanistan. It was also where he received the nickname that would carry over into his fighting career: “The Reaper.”
“I was stationed in North Carolina when I got the nickname,” Quintero told Combat Press. “Someone put a sniper rifle in my hand, and the call sign of my squadron was ‘The Reapers.’ So it just stuck with me.”
It was also in the Marines that Quintero furthered his journey as a mixed martial artist. A wrestler in high school and native of the small town of Harrah, Okla., Quintero won a state title in just four years, a highly difficult feat. When he joined the Marines, Quintero took part in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.
“I’ve always been around hand-to-hand combat and combat sports,” Quintero said. “I first played baseball when I was a kid, and I played football, but wrestling was the serious sport for me. I like combat sports and thought I would be a baseball player, but wrestling just grabbed me. I was hyperactive as a kid, so wrestling helped me compose myself. I fell in love with it and took off with it.”
Quintero took part in recruiting visits with the intent to wrestle in college. He was even going to sign with the University of Oklahoma. But his then-girlfriend became pregnant, which meant Quintero now needed to take care of a family.
“I had to start working, but I wasn’t getting paid much at the jobs I had,” Quintero said. “I had a recruiter from the Marines who hounded me, so I decided to sign up. I didn’t want to rely on others. I wanted to do things on my own to provide for my family.”
After Quintero left the Marines, he decided to follow his passion to become an MMA fighter. Quintero trains with UFC veteran Matt Grice, a fellow wrestler who quickly gave Quintero a crash course in all things fighting.
“I practiced and trained with Matt before, and he and the other guys at his gym started showing me other moves, showing me jiu-jitsu,” Quintero said. “I’m thinking I’m the baddest dude around, but they tapped me quick. It gave me a new perspective and it humbled me.”
Fortunately for Grice, Quintero is a willing student.
“I’m always trying to absorb any information he tries to share,” Quintero said. “The gym has a lot of wrestlers, and he likes to add wrestling to everything we do. It’s fun and it’s cool, and I watched him wrestle since I was a kid.”
Although Quintero is a wrestler by trade, his 5-0 pro MMA record includes five knockouts.
“The wrestling will always be there for me to fall back on, but I can learn new things,” Quintero said. “I’ve always been fascinated by boxing — I want to hit people. I work a lot on my striking and that makes me more well rounded.”
Quintero will make his LFA debut on Friday, April 14, in a bantamweight bout against Nathan Trepganier, who holds a 2-1 mark.
“I’ve had my eye on Nathan for a while,” Quintero said. “He had a good run as an amateur, and once I heard he turned pro, I foamed at the mouth. I want to fight him. He’s good off his back and wants to turn it into a brawl. I’m not underestimating him as an opponent, but I feel good about what his strategy will be and I just want to fight him. I heard he fought some of the guys from my gym as an amateur and did some dirty things. If he tries to do that with me, it won’t end well for him.”
While Quintero is extremely grateful for the opportunity afforded to him by the LFA, he also wants to put himself on the biggest stage in MMA so he can continue providing for his family.
“This is not a hobby for me. This is my career,” Quintero said. “I’m supporting my family and paying my bills with this money. I want to be on TV on the big cards and be the guy that fans order pay-per-views for. I want to help expand my gym, and I don’t want to just be a local circuit fighter. I want to be an international fighter, whether that means fighting in the UFC or elsewhere. I want to see the world again, support my family and have fun.”
Travis would like to thank Matt Grice, his old wrestling coaches, his teammates, training partners and sponsors, including Pro-Lawns of Oklahoma, Myers Café and Designer Tattoos. Follow Quintero on Twitter: @travis_quintero
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