Jeffrey Earnhardt sees possibilities beyond the track
Tuesday, May. 22, 2012
Jeffrey Earnhardt might have been the only fighter to walk to the hexagon Tuesday to country music. He unquestionably was the only fighter to sponsor himself. One of his sponsors was Jeffrey Earnhardt, Inc.
Earnhardt, grandson of Dale Earnhardt and son of Kerry Earnhardt, made his Mixed Martial Arts debut at Coyote Joes. As country played, Earnhardt, 22, moved around the six-sided cage, which was set up on the wooden dance floor at the country bar. Fans cheered loudly and a few women screamed. They began screaming when ring announcer Michael Allen said, From Mooresville
The first blow was landed by Earnhardts opponent, fellow amateur Chris Faison of Malden, S.C. Faison landed the first kick he attempted, hard at Earnhardts leg.
But Earnhardt, a former wrestler at Mooresville High until he committed to racing, charged Faison, picked him up and threw him down. Earnhardt would do this repeatedly. The fight took place almost exclusively on the ground.
Kerry Earnhardt watched at ringside, a few yards from the wire mesh fence around the ring. Jeffrey never told his dad he was going to compete in MMA. Kerry heard the rumors and read about it in this newspaper. Jeffreys mother, Rene, did not attend. She told him she did not want to watch her son get beat up.
Kerry asked: Why are you doing this if you want to race?
Jeffrey races full time. He competes on the periphery of the sport, trying to work his way to the major leagues. Jeffrey is an Earnhardt. He loves racing.
But he fell for MMA, and now, in each of the three rounds, Faison was falling for him. Earnhardt, the stronger man, was always on top. The one time he appeared to be in danger when Faison attempted to apply a guillotine, a choke hold Earnhardt picked him up and threw him to the ground.
Earnhardt was rarely hit, and easily won all three rounds and a unanimous 30-27 decision.
I dont know when Ill be able to do this again, Earnhardt said calmly after the fight. It depends on my racing schedule. But Ill definitely keep training. Im in the best shape of my life.
Kerry joined him in the hexagon and they posed for pictures. Father was more emotional than son.
You can tell where the younger Earnhardts roots are. As he was interviewed by Allen after the fight, he thanked everybody for coming out.
Then he thanked his sponsors.