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Ben Fodor chose WSOF because ‘they didn’t want me to stop being Phoenix Jones’

Courtesty of Ali Abdel-Aziz, Instragram

As a masked crusader for the last several years, Phoenix Jones has become a real life crime fighting superhero in his native Washington. He’s known as the Guardian of Seattle, a vigilante who combs the meaner streets of the Emerald City to catch criminals in the act of breaking the law. His story has been out for the last few years, but recently it received a national spotlight when ESPN aired a 10-minute feature segment on SportsCenter called "Phoenix Rising." And really, that couldn’t have come a better time.

That’s because Phoenix Jones -- or, Ben Fodor, as he’s know by day -- was pretty broke and ready to walk away from his side profession as a mixed martial artist. Once the segment aired and promotions caught an eyeful of Phoenix Jones, the contract offers began coming in.

Fodor appeared on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour and talked about the dire financial straits he was going through just as the World Series of Fighting came along to sign him.

"When [the ESPN feature] aired, I had $117 to my name at that point because I hadn’t been paid yet," he told Ariel Helwani. "And I was thinking about possibly quitting MMA. And now? Now I’m doing alright."

Fodor works with autistic kids in Seattle for his living, and he has been doubling as a professional mixed martial artist for the last few years. After a long run on the amateur circuit, he’s gone 5-0-1 since his first pro bout in late-2013, with his last fight happening against Jason Novelli at Super Fight League 37.

But he said with his schedule being what it was, and the Northwest-based promotions not providing enough money to make it worth his while, he contemplated walking away from the cage for good.

"I couldn’t maintain training enough time, and I was thinking I got to either work or fight," he said. "And I can’t seem to make money fighting."

After the video documentary aired, Fodor received several offers to fight. One of them came from the Ray Sefo-ran WSOF, whom he opted to sign with because -- among other things -- the WSOF wouldn’t make him give up his night gig as a crime fighter.

"They didn’t want me to stop being Phoenix Jones," he said. "The other contracts had a lot of clauses about what you could and could not do. And it didn't exactly say ‘stop being Phoenix Jones,’ but it did sort of say that. It’s like, eight weeks before a fight you can’t be engaged in a risky or mischievous behavior. And other contracts said that they had the rights to the Phoenix Jones name, so they were going to make dolls and action figures and stuff.’"

Fodor will make his WSOF debut on April 10 at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut against an opponent who will be named shortly. He will compete as a welterweight, with eyes on perhaps switching weight classes down the line.

"I was looking at the roster, and I really want to fight at 55," he said. "During my amateur career, when I was really training in the beginning, I did 55. And then I went to 170 because it was easier to make weight and not train."

Phoenix Jones continues to patrol the streets of Seattle on a nightly basis. His current costume is a $10,000 affair that features a bulletproof vest, fire underproofing, and plated armor. Fodor says that he and his patrol "team" will walk through high-crime areas until they at least break up one crime. He says that some nights it happens immediately, but on other occasions he’s out until 6 o’clock in the morning.

He’s also encouraging others to join his vigilante team, and expanding his range. Fodor said that he’ll be in New York at the end of March to  "fight some crime in Gotham," and that he has teams in the United Kingdom, Dubai, and in the southern U.S. He’ll keep fighting crime as deep into his camp as he can before his fight.

"I try to give myself a ten-day gap before the fight, and then after the fight, I’m going to be literally right near New Jersey," he said. "So I’m going to New Jersey to fight crime."

When asked if he would wear his Phoenix Jones costume to the cage when he debuts for WSOF, he said that might be tricky, given all the various layers. However, with the signing bonus the promotion gave him, he has a modified version on the way.

"I’m calling over and having a new suit made, which is a zip up," he said. "If the new suit is made in time, I think I might."

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