There comes a day when something happens that makes you feel old. For many of us, it may be talking with Tyler Shipp.
Still just 19 years old, Shipp (4-0) will compete for his second amateur MMA title when he faces Nick Jewell (3-5) for the interim light heavyweight title at Hardrock MMA 91 this weekend in Covington, Kentucky. He’s already ranked as the top amateur heavyweight in Kentucky by Tapology, and now he looks to conquer a second weight class.
Shipp won the promotion’s heavyweight title in his last outing at Hardrock MMA 86 in February, knocking out Josh Schlenker with one second left in the first round.
“My last four fights I’ve been in high school!,” Shipp told BluegrassMMA. “I started fighting like a week or two after I turned 18. I couldn’t wait until I could actually fight in the cage, it was a dream. Looking back I remember begging Hardrock MMA for my first fight, not knowing they always are setting up fights but that’s just how bad I wanted it.”
Shipp made his debut in November 2015, winning via knockout in less than a minute. All four wins in his short career have come via knockout or TKO, with three inside the first round.
The burn to compete has always been inside Shipp, who started wrestling and playing football in first grade. He competed in those two sports through sixth grade, when he moved to a small town in Indiana where neither was offered.
“After moving from Cincinnati the school I moved to did not have wrestling or football so I started to look around and found the Hybrid Gym,” Shipp said. “I switched from wrestling to jiu-jitsu and competed at NAGA winning teens expert and men’s intermediate.”
After that, he started kickboxing, taking his first fight when he was just 16. At his second kickboxing match, he met Andrew Wood, who would become one of his trainers at Team Demon in Cincinnati. He drives over an hour twice a week to train at that gym, as well as with Kevin Rinear at his home gym.
For a guy who got started wrestling due to bullying, he admits that fighting isn’t part of his natural personality.
“I actually hated to fight all of my life until I started fighting,” Shipp said. “I know it sounds weird but I hated to see anyone hurt or feel intimidated by anyone. I was always that guy sticking up for people, but once I found out what I could do as a fighter and the good that comes from it, I absolutely love it! I love the thrill; either giving the beating or taking the beating, I’ll be there with a smile. I just love to fight.”
Check out a video of Shipp’s heavyweight title win from Hardrock MMA 86 below.