MMA fighter's first big win was to stay sober

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<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Coach Brian Thelaner, a Pahrump Justice Court bailiff during the day, helps get Brandon Schneider into fighting condition. Schneider has been working to become a professional MMA fighter for the past three years. His coaches have a lot of faith in him. Schneider fought addiction but now uses his strength to overcome opponents.</p>
<p>Horace Langford Jr. / Pahrump Valley Times - Thelaner is seen practicing take downs with Schneider.</p>
<p>Special to the Pahrump Valley Times - Local rough-houser Brandon Schneider is seen here engaging in a ground and pound strategy against his opponent. Schneider is working hard to climb the ranks to become a professional MMA fighter.</p>
<p>Brandon Schneider</p>

Pahrump has a new mixed martial arts fighter.

Brandon Schneider is the son of Andy Schneider, a retired coach and teacher at Pahrump Valley High School.

Brandon stands 6’ 5” tall and weighs 205 pounds. He fights in a league called Tuff-N-Uff which bills itself as the “future stars of MMA.”

At 28, Schneider has been training for three years and has had some setbacks. Drug and alcohol use kept him from his goal of turning pro.

Brandon will be the first to admit he has a problem. He admits he used to be a drug user and an alcoholic. He has been clean and sober for a year and believes this time he has a firm grip on life.

Brandon turns to his family for inner strength.

“My son will keep me clean,” the MMA fighter said. “I want a better life. I have better friends now than I had back in the day. I stay away from bad influences. I train hard and I have good coaches that are supporting me 100 percent.

“There is no point in going backward. I am working on toughening up my body and my mind. You can have the toughest body in the world but if you don’t have the mind and the will to do it, you will not succeed.

“I am surrounding myself with positive influences rather than people that want to drag me down and want me on their level.”

His past problems have not deterred his coach who says he knows Brandon like the back of his hand. Robert Wilson has stuck with Brandon through all his tough times for the past three years.

“I have a lot of faith in him. He quit smoking, too, and he is a good man,” Wilson said.

Brandon is being trained and coached by Wilson and Brian Thelaner. Wilson is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and trains Schneider at Mix It Up Academy in the studio at 2400 E. Basin Ave.

Wilson was also trained under Master Toddy in Muay Thai for six years.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art and is used once a fighter gets his opponent on the ground. The Muay Thai is kickboxing.

“Brandon’s fights are at major casinos in Las Vegas,” Wilson said. “At his last fight at South Point, Joe Silva was there right in the front row. Silva can make or break a fighter’s career. He is the most powerful man in MMA.”

His fighter trains hard and Wilson sees to it that before each fight Brandon is ready to face whatever his opponent throws at him.

“When he comes into training camp,” the coach said, “We tear him down and build him back up. We work him to exhaustion. If he comes here and tells me he had a rough night, I don’t care. I have to take all the personal feelings I have for him and set them aside. I throw them all out.”

Brandon is getting ready for his fourth fight on Aug. 30. He already has a promising record of 2-1 in amateur fights.

Brandon is a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has been using the techniques to get him through his fights. When asked if he felt the white belt was enough in MMA, he replied, “I will be going for my blue in August. I am really not rushing anything. In the Muay Thai, I am a yellow belt. I don’t feel it’s enough experience to mix it up in MMA, but it is helping me out. I am learning as I go. The more I learn the better I get.”

For the eager fighter, this means he seldom takes time off. He works out seven days a week anywhere from two to four hours a day — usually after he works an eight-hour day as a security guard.

“With any martial art you have to take the time to learn it. It’s not just right off the bat that you are going to get it. It’s a lot of practice and a lot of work to get the technique right. I like to get in close and take the guy to the floor. I would rather go at it than wait for someone to come at me,” Brandon said.

Wilson says it takes six to 10 years to get a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu because if you make a mistake on the ground you have nowhere to run.

“As in karate, a stand-up martial art you have an out, but with Jiu-Jitsu you have to be perfect on the ground. If you are not perfect on the ground, you can end up in a bad situation,” he said.

Thelaner believes Brandon’s one loss was good for him. He thinks it made him believe more in his training.

“I hope he trains every camp like he did the last time. If he does, he has the potential to go somewhere. He was training twice daily. He trained with Drysdale in Las Vegas and then with us. The camp before we did not do as well. He just rolled into the fight.”

Brandon agreed with his coach, “I was humbled my second fight. I did not train hard and I took it for granted. In the fight I lost, I went three rounds and it was a decision. I was out of shape. I realized I have to take it seriously if I want to stay in the game.”

Brandon is all positives for his next fight. His last win has his spirits soaring.

“I just came out of a fight and did not get hit once,” he said. “I trained my butt off. I took the guy out in 1:26. The opponent walked in with no skills. He said he did Jiu-Jitsu and he came in talking crap and I beat him.”

For more information, on MMA, Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai call Wilson at 775-537-5622.

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