MISSOULA — Perseverance, and the will to fight through adversity are pillars for athletes who compete in combat sports.
For local mixed martial artist Josh Wright, it's no different.
"I keep the faith in my Lord and Savior and that really just pulls me through everything," Wright said. "If you just keep that in your heart, you're going to get pulled through anything."
Wright, 29, is a budding MMA prospect in Montana with a 6-3 professional record, but the last few months have tested that drive.
Back in January, Wright was scheduled to fight in Bellator, the second-largest MMA promotion in North America behind only the UFC.
However, Wright caught COVID-19, and was forced to withdraw from his fight, a disappointing result in what could've been a career-changing opportunity.
"Getting sick and just thinking about how this could have happened at that time," Wright said. "Went the whole pandemic without getting it one time and then just before the biggest fight of my life I got it and so it was pretty demoralizing momentarily but I did realize that I was going to get more opportunities and just how the belief I had in myself and just keep doing what I'm doing, it's inevitable."
But once he recovered, Wright got back to work with Dogpound Fight Team where he trains in Missoula, and he's now scheduled for a bare-knuckle boxing match in Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship on April 21 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as he aims to get back on track. While not MMA, it'll be Wright's second time fighting in BKFC after losing the first time around.
"It's been fun to watch. It's been a long journey, I've traveled all over with him in the northwest," said Rafer King, Wright's coach. "We've been to all kinds of shows and we started out in Montana and worked our way up into Washington and traveling to some of those shows and it's been fun to watch and watch him grow. I'm excited for him to get these opportunities, especially coming out of Missoula, Montana."
Wright also carries Montana and small-town pride with him knowing what he's scarified to get to this point.
Wright grew up in Superior and currently lives in Florence while training out of Missoula.
When he was beginning his career, Wright was a pipe-welder traveling across the United States working to earn a living while also balancing his training and pursuing his dream of MMA. He began his career after graduating from Superior High School in 2011 where he competed on the wrestling team. He jumped into MMA that summer and went on to go 8-0 as an amateur.
Now married with two young children, Wright often worked six or seven 12-hour days as a pipe-welder working on industrial boilers, oil heaters and more, while also fitting training into his schedule as he began his career. Plus, he was traveling a lot and away from his family.
But Wright recently gave up that job to pursue fighting full-time, and with a fight again in sight, he's ready to get back in action as pursues the pinnacles of MMA in another shot with Bellator, or even the UFC someday, while battling the obstacles in the way.
"These mental challenges are what shape you so you go through these wars with the best mindset you can, you're going to come out on the other end with something good whether it's a huge learning lesson, an offer, an opportunity of some kind, you just have to treat those hardships like a fight itself," Wright said. "Chin down, take it head-on and just keep going and you can't stop. I can't allow myself to stop."