Lou Neglia's east coast promotion, Ring of Combat, is now in its 13th year of operation. Some of the biggest names in the sport got their start at ROC, including former UFC champions Matt Serra and Frankie Edgar, as well as current middleweight champ, Chris Weidman. Their alumni list is a who's who in MMA, and they continue to find quality talent to fill out their cards.
Tonight, ROC will put on their 50th event, and as usual, there are plenty of names on the card that fans should keep their eye on for future greatness. One such name is a first generation New York middleweight named, Oluwale Bamgbose aka the Holy War Angel.
Bamgbose has strong Christian roots instilled by his parents, who own a church in their native Nigeria. "Wale" has made his devotion to God an integral part of his life, and has made many sacrifices to honor his religious beliefs. The 27-year-old is a driven man, as evidenced by his many achievements in life that include a brand new Master's Degree in Public Administration from Alfred University, his red belt in Taekwondo, purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and his unbeaten MMA record.
Recently, Bloody Elbow sat down with Oluwale, who discussed his career and life goals, his religious beliefs, preparing for his son's future and why Jon Jones is giving "real" Christians a bad rap. Here's what he had to say:
Sometimes you're a loner and striving for a dream, and you're the only person that sees it, but that's all that matters. That was the case with me. Nobody really understood where my passion or drive for MMA came from. I want to grow and learn, because I notice that a lot of fighters don't come back better from fight to fight, especially the winners. They keep making the same mistakes, but they're okay with that because they're not losing. I don't want to be like that. I want to polish my skills and I strive to get as close to a perfect fight game as I can.
When I get into the UFC, I'm going to be traveling as much as I can to incorporate different disciplines and techniques into my game. I want to be the most well rounded fighter. These guys are making real money now, so there's no excuse for not perfecting their skills. Fans want to see unique and exciting fights. I want to give them that, and I'm dedicated to acquiring as much knowledge as I can to achieve this goal.
Oluwale, a member of Hillsong Church, is so dedicated to his faith that he has not had sex in 4 years, since he and his ex-wife divorced due to irreconcilable differences, mainly based around religion.
It's been 4 years since I've had sex. I have to deny myself. I have a 4-year-old son from my marriage and he is more important than casual encounters. I was 22 when we got together, and at the time, I didn't know about being "unequally yoked," which means being paired with a person that isn't a Christian. At the time, I didn't care. I was a hopeless romantic and thought it would work itself out.
At first, she would come to church with me, but she was only doing it to woo me. She was from another country, and it turned out that she was really only marrying me to get a green card. Things went downhill quickly. It just turned out that we weren't a good pair. When we got into arguments, instead of working through our problems, praying together or seeking counseling from the church, she would leave randomly, go partying with her friends or start drinking heavily. It wasn't the relationship that I was meant to have.
After that, I told myself, ‘No sex until you find the right girl. A female that loves God and is not afraid to embrace his ways.' I'm still waiting for her. Until then, I'm going to work and continue to grow and take care of my son.
When it comes to toeing the religious line, Oluwale feels that there are some false Christians clouding the waters, namely Jon Jones.
It's bad enough that people have low opinions of Christians as it is, but what Jon Jones has done is low and it's blasphemous. God blessed you with so much talent, and made you one of the best fighters in the world. He gave you prestige and wealth, which you have demonstrated you don't deserve. You got your girlfriend pregnant and dropped out of college, but you were able to be successful despite that. Rather than paying homage to the many blessings God gave, you threw that away to be "worldly." Your hypocritical ways just give people more fuel to discard church. No offense, but that "I'm gonna do me" attitude is going to lead you into Hell.
That tattoo on your chest doesn't make you a good Christian. Because of what you did, you made a mockery of people that truly believe. I will prove that there are legitimate Christians. I will show that I am dedicated, focused and faithful. You could do the same thing.
Bamgbose's devout attitude doesn't mean he isn't ambitious, though. While his passion for the sport is immediately apparent in the way he just bubbles over with enthusiasm for honing his craft, it is but a by-product of loftier goals-to provide for his son's upbringing and college, and to make enough money to open his own youth centers to provide sports and recreational programs for underprivileged children and teens. Before he completed his master's degree in public administration, he obtained a bachelor's degree in social work, making him an ideal candidate to operate a facility like this.
I went back to school because I'm also a father. Forget about my aspirations and dreams, let's be practical. God forbid something happens to me. There needs to be a backup plan. Even though his mom and I aren't together any more, I still take care of my son, and the financial aspect is important. I support him and I have extra taken out of my account to provide for a good college education for him. By the time he's 18, he'll be set for his continuing education right off the bat. Providing the best that I can for him made me want to go back to school to be a more solid father to him. I only get him for half of every week with joint custody, I want to give him everything.
I also want to open my own chain of youth centers. If you've heard of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, this is what I want to do. I would want to incorporate some extra aspects to it that would also help feed and clothe the homeless, and provide career assistance to those people, too. I do quite a bit of charity work now, and eventually, I'd like to make it my life's work. This is what God has put in my heart, and it's why I went back to school, so I could realize these dreams. You need to have a practical approach, and I targeted my educational degrees to accomplish that aspect. Competing in MMA will provide me with the funds to help me get at least 1 or 2 of these centers started in the next couple of years.
Oluwale Bambgose will face off tonight against Brian Booth for the middleweight title at ROC 50 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. You can watch this event live on a PPV stream via GFL.TV