BY RYAN BEVINS, ON TWITTER @BEVOIS
David Wright has always excelled in sports. In high school, he was a three-sport standout at Shamrock High School in Shamrock, Texas. The city is located in the Texas Panhandle, which is the northernmost region of the state. Wright was an All-Region and All-State performer in basketball, while also earning All-District honors in football and track. However, wrestling was his first passion.
“I went to middle school in Indiana, where I wrestled for a little. Then I moved back to where I was from, a little town called Shamrock, Texas,” Wright told LFA.com. “They did not have wrestling and at that time I was in high school. In fact, I didn’t wrestle until 6 years after high school, but I always knew I wanted to fight… and to fight, you need a good ground game. I looked up the best wrestling schools and jiu-jitsu academies in the area and found UCO Wrestling and Lovato BJJ/MMA. So I joined the military to serve, help financially, and get free school. Then I walked on to the wrestling team at UCO and signed up for Lovato’s.”
Get your tickets for LFA 152: Valente vs. Bekoev
Former UCO wrestler David “The Smoke” Wright makes his pro MMA debut at LFA 152.
In other words, this is a man that knew exactly what he wanted to do and made it happen. Once Wright had his future mapped out in his mind, he made a plan, and executed it. That started with serving in the U.S. Army National Guard, 11Bravo Infantry for 6 years. Serving in the military allowed him to eventually pursue his goal of fighting. The next step involved him going back to his early wrestling roots by successfully walking-on to the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) wrestling team without ever competing in a high school wrestling match.
The UCO Broncho wrestling team in Edmond, Oklahoma has won seven NCAA Division II team national championships and eight NAIA championships, making it one of the most successful sports at UCO. WWE superstar Paul “Big Show” Wight and MMA star Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal are also UCO alumni, so it’s only fitting that the school’s next star comes with his own flashy nickname. That well-earned moniker would be “The Smoke” and Wright says, “That’s because that’s all I have to give in the ring.”
The final part of Wright’s plan to pursue his dream of being a professional fighter was to enlist one more time, but this time it would be at Lovato’s School of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. That of course is the home to the undefeated former Bellator and Legacy FC middleweight champion Rafael Lovato Jr, who is widely-regarded as America’s most accomplished submission grappler and jiu-jitsu competitor. You could say it was a perfect match made between coach and competitor.
“Many things make Professor Lovato a great coach. My favorite thing though is he’s a leader by example,” stated Wright. “He’s not just a coach who has done all these great historical things, and expects you to grind, because he said so. He still continues to do them, while leading his team from the front. Showing instead of just telling.”
The legendary Lovato also sees greatness in his fighter, but it’s not Wright’s raw athleticism that impresses Lovato the most. It is his discipline and ability to absorb what he is taught like a sponge.
“It’s easy to see David is an amazing athlete, but what makes him special is his work ethic and hunger to learn,” Lovato explained. “He is easy to coach and shows up everyday ready to listen and get better. That combined with his natural ability gives him unlimited potential.”
Watch LFA 152: Valente vs. Bekoev on UFC Fight Pass
The 27-year-old was surgical in developing and executing an airtight game plan to prepare for his professional MMA debut. We got a brief glimpse of that in his three amateur fights. All three ended by TKO in the first round with the longest fight taking only 96 seconds, so it is clear to Lovato and Wright that the time is now for “The Smoke” to make his pro debut. That moment will come against Brazilian middleweight Kevem Felipe this Friday at LFA 152: Valente vs. Bekoev in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
“The support I have from family, friends, teammates, coaches, professors, and sponsors is beyond anything a person like me can ask for. It’s the perfect time, the perfect place, the perfect promotion, and the perfect sport to make my pro debut. So making my pro debut means the world to me!”
In 2017, RFA and Legacy FC merged to form LFA, the premier developmental organization in Mixed Martial Arts. The combined forces of LFA launched the careers of over 270 athletes that have reached the pinnacle of MMA by competing in the UFC. In 2018, the promotion joined the Imperial Family Companies group (formerly London Trust Media). In 2019, the promotion announced a broadcast partnership with UFC FIGHT PASS®. In 2021, the LFA expanded internationally by hosting multiple events in Brazil.
Please visit LFA.com for updates and information. LFA is on Facebook at Facebook.com/LFAfighting. LFA is also on Instagram at @LFAfighting and Twitter at @LFAfighting.
LFA is a professional Mixed Martial Arts promotion that gives rising stars and top contenders the opportunity to prove their talent to fans and leaders in the industry. LFA was formed by the powerhouse merger between RFA and Legacy FC. LFA presents live Mixed Martial Arts events on a monthly basis around the United States including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and Houston. Based in Las Vegas, NV, LFA is one of the most active and respected MMA organizations in the fastest growing sport in the world. (The Octagon, Ultimate Fighting Championship®, UFC®, and the eight-sided competition mat and cage design are registered trademarks owned exclusively by Zuffa, LLC. All rights reserved).
About UFC FIGHT PASS®:
UFC FIGHT PASS® is the world’s leading digital subscription service for combat sports. Since launching in 2013, UFC FIGHT PASS is now available in more than 200 countries and territories. FIGHT PASS provides its members with unlimited access to live UFC FIGHT PASS Prelims; live mixed martial arts and combat sports from around the world; original series and historical programming; special features; behind-the-scenes content; in-depth interviews; and up-to-the minute reports on the world of combat sports. UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers also have 24/7 access to the world’s largest fight library, featuring more than 20,000 bouts from dozens of combats sports organizations, as well as every fight in UFC history. Fight fans can access UFC FIGHT PASS on personal computers, iOS and Android mobile devices, Apple TV, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, and Sony TVs with Android TV. For more information, please visit UFCFightPass.com.
About IMPERIAL FAMILY COMPANIES:
The Imperial Family Companies maintains a diversified portfolio with one common theme: bringing power to the people. The IFC is proud to partner with the LFA management team to showcase the greatest talents of tomorrow. Learn more about the IFC at ImperialFamily.com.
About GRAND CASINO HOTEL & RESORT:
Located a short drive east of Oklahoma City on Interstate 40, our casino features over 125,000 square feet of gaming space filled with over 2,000 of the newest, Vegas-style slots as well as Oklahoma’s only Keno lounge. We also feature a luxury 14 story hotel tower and several great dining selections. When it comes to entertainment we at the Grand Casino deliver world class shows from Vegas-style acts to national caliber events including all music genres, comedians, sporting events, and poker championships. Learn more at GrandResortOK.com.