by LIZ ONUFER
photos by Spark Photography

His list of accolades is intimidating: World Cage Warriors Champion, UFC, Strikeforce, Total Combat World Midweight Champion. But for this 4S Ranch resident, the world of professional mixed martial arts (MMA) is his way of continuing to do what he loves – and making a living out of it.

Jesse Taylor did not always dream of becoming a professional MMA fighter. The one time wrestler began to pursue the sport when he realized wrestling after college wasn’t going to pay the rent. As a new father, Jesse was looking for a way to support his family. His jump into MMA was successful. “I’ve been a professional mixed martial artist for about eight years now traveling the globe,” Jesse said.

Jesse began wrestling at Poway High School and continued on at Palomar College. He stood out among his fellow athletes, winning many titles, including California Junior College State Champion in 2004. The impressive track record earned him a scholarship at Cal State Fullerton. It was here that Jesse entered the world of professional fighting. He began training in Jiu Jitsu, learning the martial arts quickly. After only a month of training, Jesse entered his first MMA fight against a tough opponent and won.

Fast forward to 2008 and Jesse’s skills in the sport landed him on the seventh season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. His success on the show created a lot of exposure. “I did very well on the show, not losing a fight. However it was the first time I was thrown into stardom and was young at the time, so [I] had to learn a lot. It was a great learning experience and allowed me to become a full time professional fighter,” shared Jesse.

Back at 4S Ranch, Jesse shares his skills and experience in the community. “I help children work on their wrestling skills and many kids look up to me, so being an active good role model is very important,” Jesse acknowledged. Time away from MMA is spent with his two children, Alexander and Nikolas. Jesse enjoys playing with his kids and dogs, reading, yoga, and even occasionally, being lazy.

Today, Jesse continues to work towards filling his trophy case. He is a currently competing in the final rounds of the World Series of MMA. Jesse’s goal, following the pattern of success he has seen so far, is to win the World Series MMA Middleweight Championship in March.

At-A-Glance

Name: Jesse Taylor
Profession: Professional MMA Fighter
Hobbies: Reading, MMA, all martial arts, relaxing in my sweat pants
Favorite Activities: Watching my kids play sports!