Visalias Most Valuable: The Cody Gibson Story


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Often, when one thinks about the personality of a UFC star, a former skater with a background in teaching is usually not the first thing that comes to mind. This is not the case for Central Valley standout MMA fighter Cody “The Renegade” Gibson, who has had quite the trajectory in not only his career path in mixed martial arts but also his life surrounding it.

Being an MMA fan and growing up in the Central Valley, it is always nice to hear about people from the surrounding areas getting to the highest level of their preferred career choice. After doing some reading on Cody Gibson and his story, I thought there to be no one better to talk to for the first feature of Visalias Most Valuable: a series of short interviews with local valley products that are highly regarded in their field. I recently got to hop on a call with the Renegade himself and discuss how he got to the pinnacle of the MMA fighting world, his coming out of retirement, and what he would say to anybody that is looking to go down the same path that he went down.

Growing up in Visalia, California, the routes to entertainment for many adolescents can be slim to none. While growing up, Gibson describes a good amount of his time as a child at the skate park and playing the usual sports such as football, baseball, and basketball. “I found wrestling and once I found wrestling I just wrestled year-round. Keith (Cody’s brother) just wrestled all year… for club teams or travel,” Gibson said.

When asked exactly how he got into MMA, Gibson tells of how he was wrestling during his college years and would return to Visalia during the summers. While back home and crashing on his brother’s couch, Gibson was able to find a new passion. “I had a buddy training in Exeter jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts,” Gibson said. “I just kind of fell in love with MMA and had a history of wrestling. Two weeks later I was making my octagon debut.”

After his MMA career and his time was long finished with the UFC, Gibson started teaching history at El Diamante High School and coaching their wrestling team in 2017. After only a year and a half in the classroom, Gibson decided to try his hand one more time in the mixed martial arts world. “I kind of retired at the moment of losing a fight… I had told myself I had got cut from the UFC and I’m going to go a run to find fights but if I lose one more time I just told myself I’m done with it,” he said.

Gibson cited one of his main reasons for retiring early being the time taken away from his family, saying that it’s a group effort from every person in that fighter’s family. “It’s not just you who sacrifices,” he said. “If you have a wife or husband, even my parents would help out with childcare coverage while I was at the gym.”

When asked about advice that he would give to anybody in the Central Valley that looks to be a professional in their respective sport or tips to succeed in the MMA realm, Gibson stated that it, “Takes a lot of sacrifice. End of day it takes doing the extra things and sacrificing… Having good people around you… I have missed so many weddings, bachelor parties, good times, and holidays I could not eat… I don’t think that applies to all sports but there’s a level of sacrifice to reach the pinnacle of it.”

As for Cody Gibson’s next fight, Gibson will be fighting former UFC fighter Francisco Rivera in the main event fight for the UpNext Fighting promotion. The bout will take place on November 19 in Los Angeles, California at the Commerce Casino. For information about tickets and more, visit the UpNext Fighting website as tickets will soon be posted for sale.