Alton Meeks was two days away from fundamental coaching and set on spending time with household earlier than heading off to hitch the navy. The previous highschool wrestler and Division I soccer participant at Iowa and Northern Illinois was going to hitch the U.S. Military wrestling workforce and had designs on making his means up the Olympic ladder as a part of the Military’s World Class Athlete Program.
Final Oct. 2, Meeks and his father, Sanford, had simply taken cows to market close to their house in central Florida and have been on their solution to see kinfolk. Driving on East Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland, their Chevrolet pickup was struck in a head-on collision.
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A sedan driving in the wrong way got here throughout the roadway and crashed into the Meekses’ automobile at a excessive fee of pace, in line with The Ledger. Their truck caromed into one other automobile. 4 have been killed within the violent crash. Meeks was capable of stroll on his personal to an ambulance, whereas his father was taken away on a stretcher, Meeks informed ESPN.
On the hospital after assessments, Meeks stated he was talking with police when a nurse got here into his room, citing a medical emergency. She put a neck brace on him, and that is when he knew it could be not possible for him to make it to fundamental coaching and proceed towards his final aim of competing within the Olympics.
“Just about at that time I knew my dream — the one aim I ever had — was going to be taken away from me,” Meeks stated. “I began crying within the room. Not due to any bodily ache that I used to be in, however as a result of all these hundreds of hours of labor and all this time I put into it, what I needed was principally doubtless going to be simply taken away.”
His father was shaken up however sustained no long-term accidents. Meeks, then again, had an avulsion fracture in his C5 vertebra; part of the bone had ripped off on impression.
Meeks, who labored with Volkan Oezdemir as his main wrestling coaching companion previous to Oezdemir’s UFC mild heavyweight title shot in 2018, has a possibility to struggle his means into the UFC by way of Dana White’s Contender Sequence. Photograph by Todd Lussier/Zuffa LLC by way of Getty Photos
Eight months later, Meeks can be combating for an opportunity to make the UFC roster on this season’s first episode of Dana White’s Contender Sequence in Las Vegas. He fights Yorgan De Castro.
This was not the place Meeks anticipated to be in June 2019.
After graduating school in December 2016, he turned his focus again towards wrestling and making the Olympics. Regardless of placing wrestling on maintain whereas enjoying school soccer, which earned him a scholarship, wrestling had been part of his life since he was 5 years outdated, and he all the time supposed to return to that path after ending faculty. He competed inside the World Class Athlete Program, which he obtained into by means of the Nationwide Guard.
That was presupposed to be his future, however these plans have been abruptly ended within the wreck.
Meeks did not want surgical procedure, however he needed to be in a neck brace for eight weeks. Throughout that point, he utilized for a medical discharge from the Military and sought a unique path.
Meeks turned to combined martial arts.
Meeks, 25, began coaching in MMA in 2017 when he was introduced in as a coaching companion for present Skilled Fighters League heavyweight Alex Nicholson, although he has lengthy been a fan of the game. Every week into working with Nicholson, a neighborhood promoter requested Meeks if he needed to struggle, and he stated sure. Meeks received his beginner debut by unanimous determination in October 2017.
In 2018, Meeks (Three-Zero) fought twice as a professional previous to the crash, successful each occasions in lower than two minutes. He has fought as soon as because the accident, beating Baraq Hunter by 25-second TKO at Fight Night time Professional in March.
The Contender Sequence alternative can be simply his fourth skilled bout, however Meeks believes his dimension — 6-foot-Three, 263 kilos — and athleticism make him a high prospect. Meeks additionally has skilled at Arduous Knocks 365 in Lantana, Florida, underneath coach Henri Hooft. And Meeks was Volkan Oezdemir’s predominant wrestling coaching companion forward of Oezdemir’s UFC mild heavyweight title struggle in opposition to Daniel Cormier in January 2018.
“I feel what I carry to the desk is spectacular,” Meeks stated. “I am gonna go on the market and do what I do. I do not concentrate on wins and losses. I do not go on the market and struggle to not lose. I assault and put stress on my opponent all the time, and so long as I do this, good issues are going to occur.”
Meeks had to surrender his dream of pursuing the Olympics by way of the Military, which was shattering. However he additionally is aware of strolling away from that devastating crash, not to mention with the ability to search success elsewhere in MMA, is a miracle in itself. Issues may have been means worse.
“When the wreck occurred, individuals saved telling me the whole lot occurs for a cause,” Meeks stated. “Everybody saved saying that. Once I obtained this chance, all these people who saved telling me that, they stated, hey, we have been proper. Every thing occurs for a cause. One door closes, one other one opens. And that is such an superior alternative.”
Dana White’s Contender Sequence 2019, Week 1
Heavyweight: Alton Meeks (Three-Zero, 25 years outdated) vs. Yorgan De Castro (Four-Zero, 31 years outdated)
Featherweight: Invoice Algeo (12-Three, 30 years outdated) vs. Brendan Loughnane (16-Three, 29 years outdated)
Girls’s strawweight: Hannah Goldy (Four-Zero, 27 years outdated) vs. Kali Robbins (6-2, 34 years outdated)
Middleweight: Punahele Soriano (5-Zero, 26 years outdated) vs. Jamie Pickett (9-Three, 30 years outdated)