BOZEMAN – On Friday, 10 Bozeman fighters will step into the octagon for Bozeman Impact at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds.

And for some, like Chester Smith, how they got into the world of mixed martial arts, is a bit unorthodox.

“Growing up watching a lot of martial arts movies and seeing these guys travel all over the place and having martial arts skills in their back pocket and allow them to travel freely across the world was what first ever made me walk into a gym,” said Smith standing comfortably in an octagon at Montana MMA in Bozeman.

Story continues below

A lot of these fighters are regular guys. Matthew Englebart is a carpenter by day, but has fallen in love with the sport.

“I came down here and checked it out and just had an absolute blast,” Engelbart said. “Everyone here has a high energy, and the amount of knowledge in this place just blew my socks off.”

Even though fighting is an aggressive sport, when these athletes walk up the stairs and put their feet on the floor of the octagon, they feel a rush of calm.

“It’s like an out-of-body experience,” Smith said. “Your training just takes over, because we train walking to the cage and getting in and fighting so many times that you just kind of go on autopilot.”

The fighters at the Bozeman gym are some of the most committed out there. They spend months working all day and then training all night, all in hopes to feel the rush of getting a win.

“It felt like the crowning moment of dedicating four or five months of my life to just being at a gym, having almost no social life,” said Smith, who touts a 3-0 record heading into his fight with Canada’s Ryan O’Connor.

And Friday, we will see if all that hard work pays off once again.