In most instances, getting into a fight on your wedding night would make for a bad situation. That's the sort of thing that gets you on the local news or makes you part of a viral video.
Up-and-coming featherweight Kurt Holobaugh, though, welcomes the prospect of wedding-night fisticuffs.
Saturday, the 26-year old prospect from Independence, La., will marry his longtime girlfriend, Tiffany, on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Biloxi, Miss. Then the bride and groom will hurry over to the Biloxi Civic Center, where Holobaugh will put his unbeaten record on the line in the main event of the evening's Fight Force International card.
"It's going to be a crazy week," said Holobaugh, who trains with Gracie Barra North Shore. "It was my wife's idea. Biloxi's a pretty city and she's a fan of the beach, so we're going to have a minister do a ceremony there. When we get home, we'll do a big reception and have family and team members down here. It should be good, it will be good to come home married and with a victory and celebrate."
If Holobaugh seems unfazed by everything that's happening, it's probably for good reason. Just a year and a half into his pro career, Holobaugh has racked up an 8-0 record. Using an aggressive style which recalls Joe Lauzon's pre-UFC days, Holobaugh's resume includes seven stoppage wins, six submissions, and five first-round victories. This comes on the heels of an 8-0 amateur career which included six first-round stoppages.
That's the sort of fast start which got the likes of Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson and Jimy Hettes signed to UFC deals early in their pro careers. But it also places Holobaugh in a distinct in-between career spot: He hasn't yet been signed by one of the big organizations, but he's clearly outgrown the local scene, which makes it tough to land the sort of fights which will help his career progression.
As of midweek, Holobaugh found it easier to prepare for his wedding than for his fight. Twice, potential opponents agreed and then backed out. Two more are on deck and waiting for the go-ahead. All Holobaugh can do at this point is play the waiting game.
"This has probably happened for each of my last three fights," Holobaugh said. "One guy commits and then comes up with a reason not to, then another one. But it is what it is. We've got a good promoter and a good matchmaker here and they're doing their best. I'll just get myself ready and show up on Saturday night and fight whoever they put in front of me."
That's a mature attitude coming from someone who started training in MMA after graduating from high school despite no previous combat sports background.
"I was a fan of the UFC going back to when Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz were first starting to headline pay-per-views," Holobaugh said. "I was always intrigued by jiu-jitsu, was interested in studying the moves. My first week in the gym, we had an in-gym competition, and I caught a blue belt and choked him. He was mad, he started yelling at me ‘you're not new, you trained somewhere else,' but the truth was he underestimated me and I made him tap."
From there, it was a relatively quick road through the amateur ranks and into establishing his professional career. Holobaugh has had some nibbles from larger promotions over the past year. He was close to securing a Bellator bout when the company pulled through the area, but that didn't quite happen. He was also one of the final cuts to the cast of "The Ultimate Fighter Live."
Until someone from one of the big promotions comes knocking on his door with a real proposal, though, Holobaugh will just try to control the things he can.
"All I can do is stay focused and keep improving," said Holobaugh. "I truly do believe I'm only a few wins away from hooking up with the UFC. I look around, here in Louisiana, and I see, for example, Dustin Poirier and I once both fought on the same amateur card. Look where he is. Or someone like Rich Clementi, look how long he's been able to fight at a top level. I know if I just keep at it and keep improving, my break is going to come one of these days."