Michael McBride, like many other high school wrestlers, saw mixed martial arts as a great tool to remain in shape.

And, like so many others, it quickly turned into more than just a hobby – it became an obsession.

McBride, a native of Webster City, Iowa, is currently booked to face Doug Jenkins on June 14 for Midwest Cage Championships in Des Moines. The bout is booked as the headliner for MCC 48.

With an unbeaten amateur and professional record (8-0 overall, 3-0 as a pro), McBride knows this opportunity to main event against a veteran of the sport like Jenkins (6-4) is a key one for his career.

“Jenkins is a South Dakota-native with some very impressive wins over high-level opponents,” said McBride, during a recent interview with MMAConvert.com. “I am really excited to get in there and test myself. I think a win over Jenkins will be a big step in my MMA career.”

For McBride, the ultimate goal is a spot in the UFC, competing amongst the elite in the world.

“UFC or bust,” he said, when asked about his future. “I have a family that I don’t like to take a lot of time away from and fighting definitely absorbs a lot of my time.

“Fighting has given me some opportunities that I wouldn’t have had. I have a strong Christian faith, so with fighting, I am able to reach some people that wouldn’t know Christ otherwise.”

With the end goal being the Octagon, McBride does understand that if he isn’t afforded that chance, he’ll move on to something else.

“If I get to a point where I am stagnant in my career, it will be time to move on to something else. I want fighting to be a career – not a hobby.”

Plenty of Iowa-based fighters have made it to the UFC, including Jeremy Stephens, a personal favorite of McBride.

“Partially because he is an Iowa boy and because he is incapable of putting on a boring fight,” he said, of his admiration for Stephens.

McBride is also a follower of the current UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who he had the opportunity to train with earlier this year.

“Benson carries himself very well and is a great role model for the sport,” he said. As for that razor-close decision win for Henderson over Melendez, despite obvious bias, McBride said he “had him winning.”

With his high school wrestling background, and a quick love for jiu-jitsu, McBride has reeled off eight submission victories since debuting in 2011. Six of those eight have come in the first round, and five of them under two minutes.

Despite it being just a couple of years ago, that first fight eludes the mind of McBride for the most part, saying he remembers “very little” from it.

“I had complete tunnel vision up until the fight got to the ground. Once the fight was on the ground, I was able to relax a little,” McBride said. “I ended up catching him in an armbar. It was a very scary experience. I couldn’t even watch the fights prior to mine. Everyone kept coming back to the locker room all beat up and all I could think was, ‘That’s going to be me.'”

McBride currently spends most of his training time at the Des Moines Jit-Jitsu Academy and Elite Edge, but he does work out at a gym in his hometown, as well. UFC veterans Kevin Burns and Joe Brammer frequent the training facilities, along with “a whole slew of talented fighters.”

Photo credit: Brian Frank Photography