The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

How City College prepared UFC fighter Josh Emmett for adversity and life

Image provided by Josh Emmett

Before Josh Emmett was a professional athlete, he was a wrestler and student at City College. His time there allowed him to acquire skills and relationships that helped him to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he is currently the No. 7 featherweight.

“It definitely molded me into who I am today,” said Emmett, who had initially wanted to join the Army after high school. “Being an athlete at Sac City had a big factor in helping me to be reliable and succeed in school and wrestling. It transfers over to everything.”

At City College, Emmett wrestled under head coach Dave Pacheco from 2003-2004. His time spent as a wrestler helped him start and advance his career as a professional mixed martial arts athlete. After Emmett left City College, he earned his bachelor’s degree at Menlo College.

“I just wanted to make sure like it if it didn’t work out for me, then I could have a degree to have something to kind of fall back on and so I got my degree,” said Emmett.

Emmett recalls that he did not plan to attend college. Before graduating from El Camino High School in Sacramento, he enlisted in the Army’s delayed entry program. Pacheco, who coached wrestling for 37 years, met Emmett at wrestling events around Sacramento. Soon after, Pacheco was able to recruit Emmett into the City College wrestling program.

“He already enrolled me into the school,” said Emmett. “He had all my classes already picked out. He took care of everything for me.”

Emmett’s high school wrestling coach introduced the young wrestler to Pacheco, who thought Emmett seemed like a solid recruit.

“I would say Coach Pacheco could have saved my life; you never know,” said Emmett. “I thought I had my future mapped out.”

According to Emmett, in his time at City College, professors played a role in molding his character, but he thinks of Pacheco as his primary mentor.

“I said, ‘Hey, let’s do this. You only live once,’ and as they say, the rest is history, ” Pacheco told Emmett.

Emmett recalls that Pacheco emphasized learning more than wrestling with his students. Pacheco prided himself on the fact that the members of the wrestling team did well in class.

“Most athletes are going to have real-world jobs one day and the academies are going to carry you there,” Pacheco said. “I think for Josh, getting your degree gives you more knowledge on how to live your life once you’re done in the UFC.”

He wants to see his players get their degrees and no athlete knows when his or her career may end. Fifteen seconds into Josh Emmett’s most recent mixed martial arts fight, in what he describes as a “freak accident,” he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Emmett took a misstep and hyperextended his knee, resulting in this severe injury. 

He describes the moment that he tore his ACL as the most excruciating pain he has ever felt, but he still felt every reason to continue the fight and win. That’s what he did, clinching his 16th win with the UFC.

“I go out to a fight, and I just don’t want to lose,” said Emmett. “I’m always up for a good challenge, and at that moment, I could have given up. I made the decision to keep moving forward. I knew I’d be much happier.”

Emmett believes that current City College students can become successful in anything they choose.

“Anything’s possible for these young athletes, you know. It doesn’t matter where you go. Keep working every day to achieve those goals of yours,” said Emmett.

According to Emmett, he never envisioned a career as a UFC fighter while growing up in Sacramento.

“I was thinking about professional sports when I was a kid, but I was thinking more like baseball or football,” said Emmett. “I always felt like I was going to do something great later. I always believed it from a young age.”

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