By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
A champion in our midst
champ page one
Professional Bantamweight MMA fighter Sean Cerveny - photo by Photo Contributed

A childhood dispute ultimately led to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) success for Manteca native Sean Ceveny.

The 5-foot-5, 135-pound bantamweight was first introduction into the world of fighting when he was 5 years old and found himself in a heated argument with his brother. 

Cerveny’s father, a boxing coach, decided the best way to solve the conflict between the two arguing siblings was to take them outside to the front yard and have them duke it out respectfully. 

“I remember it being such a unique feeling” Cerveny recalled.

Between battling his big brother that day and a frenzy of a Bruce Lee movie, young Cerveny was hooked on the idea of one day becoming a fighter. 

Enrolling in his first martial arts class a year later, Cerveny started with Kempo, a karate style distinguished by the use of quick hand strikes in rapid succession, He later took an interest in wrestling.  This interest grew particularly during the time when he was having problems at school. 

“When I was around 15 I was getting bullied and got into a lot of fights,” the now 22-year-old recalled.

Joining Manteca High’s wrestling team, Cerveny gained notable skills under his coach John Vasquez.  Through the sport Cerveny was able turn a negative situation with being bullied into a constructive one.

Wrestling eventually led Cerveny to the martial arts that he is now most passionate about, Gracie Jiu Jitsu.  He began seriously studying the art which uses leverage and timing over strength and speed after meeting pro fighter Darin “Whitey” Cooley.

“I met Darin right around the time I started watching MMA,” Cerveny said. “I wandered into a gym where he was teaching and thought to myself, ‘I’m going to be a prodigy, no one here can tap me out.’ Then before I knew it, here comes 140-pound Darin, the nicest, humblest guy you’ll ever meet and he messed me all up. He tapped me out at least 15 times in a five minute round with no effort.  He was lying on his back the whole time, just killing me.”

Cooley gets him to

start living for God

Cooley complimented Cerveny’s skills after their bout on the mat and encouraged him to continue training.  Personally the timing of meeting with Cooley couldn’t have been better for Cerveny as he was struggling with a great deal of anger due to the sudden loss of his mother.

“I never drank because I was so committed to wrestling but after my mom, I went a little crazy for awhile,” he said.

Cooley and Cerveny spent long hours training together then after training was done, the two would sit and read scriptures together and discuss God. 

“Darin was the one who really got me to start living for God,” Cerveny said.  “Before, I would say I was a Christian but I wasn’t really living that way. Darin really helped me.”

Sometime after, while watching an MMA fight, Cerveny observed former WEC Featherweight Champion, Urijah Faber walk confidently into the arena to the song, “The California Kid”, before entering the octagon prepared not only for battle but for victory.  That was the moment Cerveny decided he wanted to go pro.

He increased his training in the various arts, however leaning with favor toward Jiu Jitsu. “

“With Jiu Jitsu, a 150 -pound kid can dominate a 300 -pound man with ease. That’s powerful and humbling at the same time,” he said.

Believing that martial arts and spirituality are tied together, Cerveny readily admits that he finds a connection with God through fighting. 

“I want to be a world champion fighter and the way I have to do that with such commitment and discipline coincides with how I want to live spiritually.  When I train I just feel closer to God,” he noted.

With the professional fighting realm not necessarily known for its strong faith principles, Cerveny believes the best way he can stay spiritually strong in his career and in his life is to pray and ask God. 

“Don’t get me wrong, we are all sinners but the Word says, if we ask we will receive,” Cerveny said.

Studies Bible to

find strength

Cerveny studies the example of strong champion men from the Bible such as Samson and King David.   Both were amazing warriors but when each took their eyes off God, they stumbled, fell and lost their way for a time.  The champion in our midst desires to keep focused on God in and out of the ring while encouraging others to do the same.

Having a significant desire to go pro long before the actual opportunity came about, Cerveny prepared himself by perfecting his skills through rigorous daily training in the areas of boxing, grappling, Jiu Jitsu, Sambo as well as strength and conditioning.  The door of opportunity opened when a professional fighter was injured before an upcoming fight in Panama City.  Cerveny was asked if he would be willing and ready to step in, in which he quickly responded, “I’m ready!”

Winning his first three professional fights, all by first round submissions, Cerveny is well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming world champion.  This dream is not simply for bragging rights but to gain a better platform to share with the world what he cares about most next to fighting — his faith in God.

“If you are champion people are going to listen to you,” Cerveny said. “I want to express God’s Word from a large platform and  let people know that whatever happens in a fight is temporary but what we are really going for is our eternal salvation.”

Maintaining strong faith and strong world champion vision, Cerveny is thankful that he is surrounded by what he considers to be, “the best team in the world.”  

He readily admits that his coach David Marshal, combat Sambo coach, Val Ignatov, wrestling coach, John Vasquez, striking coach, Carter Williams, physical therapist, Sara Loesch, along with pro fighters Darin Cooley, Nick and Nate Diaz and his team mates at Gracie Fighter Manteca, have all played a vital role in his success thus far.  

Hates eating

his vegetables

While many fighters focus their attention on joining large organizations such as UFC or Bellator, Cerveny says his ultimate goal is to simply “fight the best and be the best period”. The fighter attributes his commitment to hard work and strong work ethics to his father who worked two full time jobs while raising his four sons.

“My dad made sure there was no quit in us,” he said.

With a no quit attitude and a bright future ahead, Cerveny does admit to one minor glitch in his champion pursuit. 

“I hate eating vegetables,” he pointed out.

Naturally weighing 160 pounds, Cerveny is not a fan of the strict diet of vegetables, lean proteins and very low carbs that he must endure when it’s fight time in order to reach his fight weight of 135.  While it is a necessary sacrifice this champion in our midst confesses that when the fight is over and his hand is raised victory, “It’s all about pizza and sushi.”

To learn more about professional fighter, Sean Cerveny visit his Facebook fan page at  SeanCerveyMMA or visit him at Gracie Fighter Manteca, 407 N. Main St., Manteca where he trains as well as teaches Jiu Jitsu.