CRESTVIEW — When Chris Francis is not with his family or on the clock at Baker Metal Works, you might find him working out in Fort Walton Beach.
But these training sessions aren't just for physical fitness; they're also preparing him for competition.
You see, Chris “The Frustrator" Francis is an amateur mixed martial arts fighter, and his talents are taking him to a world tournament next month in London, England.
As part of the Fighters Source international amateur MMA league, Francis, 29, has earned a spot on an eight-member team representing the United States while competing with seven countries in the Amateur MMA World Challenge.
Chris said he earned his nickname after training with his older brother, James, a former MMA fighter. Chris said his brother grew frustrated from trying — unsuccessfully, again and again — to pin his younger brother down.
After several training sessions with James, Chris took the next step.
“I just wanted to compete in (MMA) tournaments and I haven’t looked back since,” he said.
Now, he has the whole family's support.
Chris says his wife, Gina, serves in a managerial role in helping sell T-shirts at his competitions. His three children are his biggest fans and offer advice during trips with the amateur MMA club, the Miami Punch. The club regularly competes with other MMA clubs in the Fighters Source league.
“The last thing they tell me, when I walk out the door is to ‘punch them in da face,'” Chris said.
Recently, Chris received national attention when featured on Sports Illustrated’s website in the ‘Leading Off: Pictures of the Week’ section.
The photo shows him fighting Jesse Henderson during the Fighters Source U.S. Nationals in New York on July 26. Chris won the match to advance to 11-0.
Actively competing in amateur MMA events offers several benefits, he said.
“(I enjoy) the competition and training,” he said. “It gives me something to shoot towards and it keeps me focused.”
In preparation, Chris works out four days a week at the Capitao Jiu-Jitsu and MMA facility in Fort Walton Beach under the supervision of his coaches, Danny Ruiz and Daniel Silver.
Although he is currently focused on the London tournament, Francis plans to take the next step in his MMA career.
“The ultimate goal is to go pro and see how far I can make it,” he said.
Follow Chris “The Frustrator” Francis’ progress in amateur MMA on Facebook.com at on.fb.me/1p61Uwr