Trevin Giles has worked hard to reach his goal of becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. In his free time, he has quietly put together a perfect 9-0 start to his career as a professional mixed martial artist.
Giles started formal MMA training at the age of 20, using it as a way to stay in shape and prepare for football season at Texas Southern University. Little did he know that he would not only step into the cage someday but also become one of the top prospects in the sport.
“I was just trying to stay in shape to walk on and play football at TSU,” Giles told Sherdog.com. “I would watch the UFC and see these guys fight for 25 minutes straight, and I thought, ‘They are the most in-shape people in the world.’”
Giles started his sessions at Elite MMA in Houston, where he still trains today. After a year and a half in the gym and earning the respect and support of his teammates, he decided to turn his hobby into a possible career. Success was immediate.
“Winning my first amateur fight is an accomplishment I am proud of,” Giles said. “It is something that not many people will ever do, and Elite MMA helped me get over the fear of getting into the cage.”
The Houston-based fighter won his first two amateur bouts before signing with Legacy Fighting Championship, the same promotion that served as a staging ground for Tim Means, Thomas Almeida, Derrick Lewis, Holly Holm and others. It did not take long for Giles to make a name for himself on the professional scene. He finished his eight opponents, and the hype surrounding him began to build. Giles was 24 and sitting pretty at 8-0. The middleweight was offered a fight with fellow prospect Ryan Span at Legacy Fighting Alliance 3 -- a bout the organization saw as a possible title eliminator at 185 pounds. However, Giles felt he had done enough to earn a spot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, so he spoke to current UFC matchmaker and former Legacy Fighting Championship frontman Mick Maynard. After their conversation, he accepted the fight with Spann.
The two middleweights squared off on Feb. 10 in what would prove to be Giles’ toughest test to date. Spann threatened with multiple submissions, only to be wobbled by a sharp left hook. The fight remained competitive, but Giles showed his grit and eked out a split decision. While the win moved him to 9-0 and put him in line for a Legacy Fighting Alliance title shot, the undefeated Texan wants to focus on finishing his education before taking another fight.
“I feel like all of my focus is not even on fighting right now,” said Giles, who expects to graduate this summer. “I have a lot of my effort going towards completing my degree, and I am in the position in my MMA career where I need to be even more focused.”
Giles understands the value in having a fallback plan, especially if the UFC call never comes -- just one more reason he wants to graduate first before throwing his focus into full-time fighting.
“I am hoping for the best, but I could always pursue a career in law enforcement,” he said. “I want to graduate and get a call from the UFC, but if that doesn’t work, I will see what the best opportunity is.”
Much of Giles’ frustration involves the fact that he continues to absorb punishment for the same amount of pay, all while his level of competition continues to increase.
“I am at the point in my career where I think I have done enough to make it to the UFC,” he said. “This sport takes tolls on your body, and I just don’t want to fight for chump change and cause damage to myself.”
A young fighter with an old-school mentality as it relates to marketing yourself, Giles believes what you do inside the cage -- not behind a microphone -- should do a majority of the talking for you.
“I think a lot of guys are able to talk their way into main events or big fights,” he said. “Look at my record and how I win fights. I don’t know what else I would have to do to get to the UFC. That is one of the main things that irritate me. I have seen guys that go to the UFC that are 4-0 or 5-0. It is almost as if they put you in the same category as someone that hasn’t put it the same work that you have.”