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Family’s ‘drug addiction’ and ‘alcohol abuse’ led Josh Emmett to MMA: ‘I was scared for my mom’s safety’

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Josh Emmett’s zero-fear attitude inside the Octagon was developed at a very young age.

Josh Emmett says fighting another man in a controlled environment is a cakewalk compared to some of his experiences growing up.

Emmett, 34, opened up about his upbringing when speaking to Bloody Elbow after his first-round TKO of Mirsad Bektic at UFC Sacramento. “My mom was a single mom [taking care of] my brother and I. I’ve just seen with my older brother — and my dad, he had another family and stuff — it was a lot of drug addiction, a lot of alcohol abuse,” he shared. “My brother, just, maybe hung out with the wrong crowd when he was younger. So since I was a little kid he was big into selling drugs and hanging out with the wrong people and involved in too much drugs. He was a 5150.”

A “5150 refers to the California law code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness,” per

“I would just pray. I was scared for my mom’s safety. I was such a young kid and I had seen so much. I’d come home from school and never know what to expect. I’d see the cops at my house with their guns drawn,” he continued. “It was a crazy upbringing and that’s the reason why I wanted to be a cop at such a young age. I wanted to help families going through the same thing my mom was. That’s why I got into wrestling when I was in middle school, that’s why I got into kung fu. I wanted to be able to protect my mom.”

Following his win over Bektic, Emmett told Jimmy Smith he wants to fight former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. “I’m sick of hanging around and fighting these guys that are up-and-coming. I’m just staying towards the back. I beat the third ranked guy in the world,” he said in reference to his knockout of Ricardo Lamas in 2017. “I was number four, I was so close to getting that title shot before I had that small hiccup on the road.”