If Chris Camacho punches and kicks as fast as he talks, the former All-America safety at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga could have a promising mixed martial arts career.
After going 4-0 as an amateur, Camacho will make his professional debut Friday night in Indianapolis in the Legends of Fighting Championships.
"I wanted to make it two fights ago, but my people told me to keep training and my time will come," said Camacho, who led the Southern Conference with 136 tackles as a senior in 2007. "Well, my time has come and I'm excited about it."
Camacho's fight Friday is at a bar called 8 Seconds Saloon, which is a long way from the marquee venues that host Ultimate Fighting Championship cards. But it's a start.
After the 2007 season Camacho tried to play pro football but wasn't able to make that dream come true. Becoming a fighter was something the Los Angeles native had always considered as well.
"I grew up boxing and then I got into football. My mom said, 'You're not going to box and play football; I'm not going to have a dumb son,'" he said. "So I played football, had a good career, and I was always into the UFC and thought it might be something I wanted to do."
When he returned to UTC to finish school he started working at D1 Sports Training, where he met some fighters and struck up a deal. He offered to help them get in top shape if they would train him in MMA.
Camacho moved to Nashville about 10 months ago. He now splits his time between training and working at the D1 there.
As a 6-foot UTC safety, Camacho weighed in at 200 pounds. He's now fighting in the 155-pound lightweight division. He said he trains at about 175 pounds but will cut down to 155 right before the fight.
"That's the hardest part of this whole thing, because I love to eat," he said.
Camacho said he loves competition - "I thrive on it" - but there's a big difference between being one of 11 guys on a defense and walking into the cage for a fight.
"I was nervous before my first fight, but you really find yourself," he said. "The cage shut and I was looking at [my opponent] and he was looking at me, and I realize it's just me and him and the ref. It's real.
"Every day's a challenge for me, and I'm like a kid in a candy store because all of this is new to me."
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeat