For many professional mixed martial arts fighters, training, dieting, and preparing to step into the cage with someone who wants to knock or choke them unconscious requires more work ethic and dedication than anything else. For Terrin Yazzie, who has spent a good portion of his life on the Navajo nation in northern Arizona, fighting isn't even as strenuous as a normal summer day during his childhood.
Yazzie, 30, went to school in the Valley but would go back to the Navajo nation to see his extended family for the summers of his youth.
"It taught me not to take anything for granted," Yazzie says. "It was simple. We didn't have electricity or running water, so we had to haul our water every day." Yazzie, who cuts about 40 pounds to make the 155-pound limit for his fights, believes the work ethic and discipline instilled in him over the long summers of his childhood has transitioned into his MMA training, but it isn't his only reason for getting into the sport.
"Fighting keeps me away from the junk food and stuff," Yazzie says. "It makes me eat and live healthy, which I wouldn't otherwise do." Aside from the concern of diabetes, a serious health problem on the Navajo nation, Yazzie, a heavy equipment operator for RJL Excavating Inc. in Scottsdale when he's not fighting, has another reason for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, he has a family.
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"My family has always been there for me, I couldn't do all of this without my wife helping and supporting me," Yazzie says. "I wish I could spend more time with them, but our time in the gym is really our family time right now." Not only do Yazzie and his wife, Shanielle, have a 7-year-old daughter named Tatum, but Yazzie also provides a father figure for his 3-year-old niece, Hailey.
For Yazzie, who now trains out of Impact MMA in Scottsdale, family has always been a strong influence on his fighting career. Years ago, Yazzie's uncle opened Damon-Bahe Boxing, the gym where Yazzie initially did his fight training. "I got into fighting because of my family," Yazzie says. "It's in my blood."