CORAL SPRINGS, FL – In gyms across Broward County, a fast-talking and charismatic athlete named Landon Quinones learned wrestling and kickboxing.
Then he stumbled onto mixed material arts (MMA) and found his calling in life.
“For me, it’s a primal thing,” he said of the combat sport between fighters. “It’s seeing whose will is strongest.”
On Friday, his fighting skills got him a lot of attention in the MMA world when he beat a challenger in the sport’s Titan FC 61 organization.
For those following the sport, the 24-year-old defeated Geralbert Castillo in a no-audience bout at Intercontinental Miami hotel that was broadcasted to a national audience.
The victory puts Quinones in a position for a possible title fight and get moved up into the sport’s big league.
Cheering him on is his Coral Springs mother, Blanca Quinones.
“This was everything he has worked hard for,” she said. “When he started going to gyms when he was younger, it was like opening Pandora’s Door. He’s never deviated.”
Landon Quinones’ rise in MMA is a tale of hard work, determination, and sacrifice.
“His goal is to make it to the top. That’s what he wants,” Blanca Quinones said.
Since going pro when he turned 21, he’s lived for the sport, he said – working out daily, coaching other youth, and finding businesses to sponsor him. There have been times when hardly any money was coming in, and he’d go hungry.
Still, the Margate resident kept his eye on the prize.
“I want to be a world champion and I want to be a champion coach,” Landon Quinones said Sunday as he recovered from the Friday night fight.
“I work harder than most people do during their nine to five jobs. This sport is a lifestyle for me,” he added.
Through his teenage years, he struggled with his school grades and got into fights with his peers. He eventually graduated from an alternative school in Fort Lauderdale. Academics, he said, weren’t for him.
Since becoming an MMA fighter, Landon Quinones said he’s found more control in his life.
“It’s humbled me for sure,” he said. “I’m teaching kids now. I’m all about how to make people better and how to make myself better, too.”
For Blanca Quinones, it’s not easy watching her son get hit in the cage, but she supports his journey.
“He’s been working so hard,” she said. “I’m proud of him.”