Saturday, July 17, 2010


By Jason King
Leader sportswriter

The McGlothlin family really gets a kick out of Mixed Martial Arts.

So much so that William McGlothlin opened his own training facility in Cabot in early 2009, while his two teenage sons, Eli and Rudy, aspire to reach the professional MMA ranks.

The McGlothlins operate Barata MMA in Cabot and live near Bald Knob.

William has been involved with the sport for just over 11 years and reached pro status as a fighter. Eli, 18, is a five-time amateur kickboxing champion in the prestigious International Kickboxing Federation with a career record of 15-4, and Rudy, 15, has one title belt in his young career.

The family will head to Orlando, Fla., at the end of the week for the IKF World Classic amateur kickboxing and Muay Thai championships held July 23-25.

Eli has won five belts in five trips to the international event, and with possibly his final trip to Orlando as an amateur ahead, the only pressure he said he feels is from within.

“It’s just a big enjoyment in life,” Eli said. “I like to go out and challenge myself and try to see how hard I can push myself. It always feels great to overcome that goal that you set up for yourself and then to set up your next goal and try to get to it.”

Eli’s fast track to success has been an inspiration for 15-year-old Rudy McGlothlin.

Rudy won his first IKF title in his first trip in 2008 and finished runner-up last year. He has also been a champion on the NAGA grappling circuit.

Rudy said he does not want to simply follow in his older brother’s footsteps, but rather eclipse them.

However, Rudy, slightly taller and bulkier than Eli despite being three years younger, is also quick to point out that his dad and brother helped accelerate his progress.

“I’m going to try and beat him,” Rudy said of Eli’s accomplishments. “So I can have everybody look up to me instead of him as much. They help me out a lot.

“I look at what they’ve done or what they’re going to do, that way, I’ll know what to do if it comes down to it.”

William began what has become a family saga 11 years ago when he met David Swain, a registered nurse in the Searcy area who taught Brazilian Ju-jitsu on the side. William trained under Swain and became skilled enough to take part in a MMA event promoted by local martial arts legend Danny Dring, of Sherwood.

William started training under Dring full time when Swain moved away, and has been affiliated with Dring’s Living Defense martial arts ever since.

In his decade-plus of MMA training and instructing, William has had a front-row seat to the sport’s enormous growth.

“It’s growing consistently,” William said. “I’m going to say it’s misunderstood a lot of times. When people think of MMA and fighting, they think pretty thuggish. But if you come to my school and see, all of my people are very well mannered, respectful. I don’t accept that and I don’t tolerate it.”

William is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a second-degree black belt kickboxer under the Joe Lewis Fighting Systems. His original inspiration came as it has to many over the last decade, from watching televised Mixed Martial Arts on Ultimate Fighting Championship.

“I was 28 when I first started, but I always wanted to do something,” William said. “I never really had much interest in taekwondo and stuff like that. I found the grappling and Jiu-Jitsu, MMA part through watching UFC, and found a local instructor.”

Eli was 10 years old when he first competed in kickboxing, and began fighting MMA recently, just before his 18th birthday, and has built a 4-0 record. The Bald Knob High School graduate plans to attend Arkansas State University-Beebe in the fall while still finding enough time to pursue his fighting career.

He holds the 18-year-old record for most consecutive IKF titles at five, and with another successful trip to Orlando, could become the first six-time champion at age 18 in the IKF.

“Every single fight, I try to train harder and harder,” Eli said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s this big national event or coming to a local fight around here, anytime I go into a fight, I try to push it even harder each time. If training and fighting continues to go well, I would definitely love to take it to the next level.”

With all the training, the intensity and even the propensity for physical pain in the octagon, there are two more things that make it all worthwhile for Eli — family and fun.

“It definitely makes coming to training really fun, because we get to spend more time together that way,” Eli said. “I actually get to see them more here than at home, because I’m so busy working or studying that I’m either stuck in my bedroom or stuck at work.

“I love it. I get to see them, I get to hang out with them, and it’s also what they love doing, so we all have fun together.”