MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Danny “The Realist” Ramirez stepped into the octagon. His opponent, Arson Perry, stood across from him in the caged ring.
Ramirez is ranked 14th world-wide in the International Sport Combat Federation, three ranks below Perry. It was a fight Ramirez was looking forward to. He was both calm and excited as the match began. Ramirez executed a takedown against Perry during every round of the match.
In the third round, he drew blood and Perry’s ear began to gush. Despite almost being choked out in the fourth, Ramirez dominated the five-round match and the judges unanimously designated him the victor. Ramirez had gone from a not-so-good, 152-pound high school wrestler, to the winner of the Reno Combat Welter Weight Championship in six years.
Sgt. Daniel Ramirez stands at 5’ 10” and weights in at 190 pounds, cutting down to 170 for his fights. He proudly wears a battle scar above his right eye from a front kick in his fourth fight and when he steps onto the mat, he is a force to be reckoned with.
He is currently the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Distribution Management Office at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., and trains daily with his three coaches at more than 6,500 ft. above sea level.
Larry Robasciotti, head coach, Andy Irving, boxing coach, Juan Monroy, nutritionist and sponsorship manager, and Brad Robasciotti, sparring partner, push Ramirez in every aspect of fighting and are always in his corner during a fight. His daily training is usually lasts an hour and a half, depending on how close he is to “fight night.”
The North Hills, Calif., native started wrestling in his sophomore year of high school but had never tried his hand at the mixed martial arts circuit until he arrived at his current duty station in 2011.
“I wasn’t always the most athletic person out there,” Ramirez said. “Every sport I tried out for, I wasn’t great at it. I just pushed myself harder to get better. It’s amazing what your body is capable of doing when your mindset is right.”
He met the coaches that inspired his MMA career in Bridgeport and soon joined the Mountain Warrior Fight Club.
Ramirez earned his black belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program before ever starting MMA. It’s the Corps that led him to his current success, according to Ramirez.
“The Marine Corps got me into fighting,” Ramirez said. “I probably wouldn’t have even looked into it. Being here, and MCMAP, kind of led me to that path.”
He first saw an opportunity to fight during a routine workout.
“I wanted to get big but I didn’t know they did mixed martial arts,” Ramirez said. “I’d see them in there. I started going up there and the coaches were very welcoming."
“Everything they do for me they do out of love for MMA,” Ramirez continued. “They take their own time to train with me, getting nothing back. Everything I do, such as the wins, I do for them because they are always there for me.”
Sitting in on a training session, you almost feel sorry for Ramirez. He is put through rigorous exercises before he is put in his first fight. He grapples with Brad, who is rested and ready to fight, and after his time on the mat is done, he returns to his exercises. This is a cycle Larry has Ramirez continue until his body is exhausted.
“My biggest thing is cardio,” Ramirez said. “Being here, at this elevation, we schedule everything around cardio. You don’t ever want to gas out.”
Ramirez doesn’t have the full set of training equipment you’d expect a title-holding fighter to have. His gear is minimal; a mat, jump ropes and some speed and punching bags. Despite the lack of equipment, Ramirez has excelled in the sport. He believes his life in the Marine Corps has taught him to surpass this obstacle.
“We don’t have everything we need in training,” Ramirez said. “But there’s a mentality to adapt and overcome; the ‘not giving up’ type of attitude.”
He attributes much of his success to the environment in which he trains, including getting out of the choke in the match that earned him his title as champion. However, his coaches give credit elsewhere.
“His work ethic is incredible, because we put him through hell,” Larry said. “He is tenacious and a little cocky, but that’s good in this game.”
Ramirez has two sponsors and holds a record of five wins to one loss, with another fight coming up in March.
“I’m thinking about having two more fights and then turning pro and starting my career there,” Ramirez said.
At his core, Ramirez loves to fight. It is where his future and his heart lie. He smiles when talking of past fights and looks forward to the grueling training.
“With every fight, you get better and know what you have to do differently,” Ramirez said. “At the end of the day it pays off. It’s like everything I went through was totally worth it.”
After eight years of service, Ramirez plans on getting out of the Marine Corps later this year. He hopes to continue his fighting career in the civilian world after returning to his home town in North Hills, Calif.
He’ll take with him the Marine Corps values, of honor, courage, and what he believes to be most important, commitment.
“You have to stay committed,” Ramirez said. “You have to be committed if you’re going to be successful in anything. That’s one [Corps value] that I will be taking with me.”
To follow Daniel Ramirez, visit https://facebook.com/REALCOLDWARRIOR.