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High School Teacher Readies For Strikeforce MMA Debut

By day, Ben Holscher (1-0) is an educator in Clovis, California’s public high school system. After school is out, though, he shifts gears towards his other career – professional mixed martial arts (MMA) prize fighting in the cage.

The 28-year-old Health teacher, who also coaches wrestling for the high school, is in the midst of preparing for his second professional MMA bout, which will take place at Fresno, California’s Save Mart Center on Friday, May 15 as part of the inaugural SHO MMA: Strikeforce Challengers event. He is slated to square off with Cody Cantebury (1-3-1) in a preliminary matchup prior to the SHOWTIME telecast, which airs live at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).

“I just have an inner-competitiveness that drives me to test my mind and my body,” said Holscher, a lifetime athlete who excelled in the sport of wrestling all the way through his career as a student at NCAA Division II Chadron State College. A four-year starter for the school located near his home in Ogallala, Nebraska, Holscher boasts two-time National Qualifier, three-time Academic All-American, and two-time team captain, amongst other achievements, on his resume.

“Whether it’s a workout, a fight, or even a card game, I like to compete and, now, I can make a little bit of money doing it, too.”

Holscher is in the midst of his second year teaching at Clovis High but, for the first several months on the job, he kept his other career under wraps. It was shortly before his professional debut that the cat came out of the bag.

“Some of my students and wrestlers had known it was a hobby but, then when I had my first fight in November, that’s when they found out about it,” he said.

Needless to say, the news changed the dynamic of Holscher’s relationship with the teenagers, who fall into MMA’s primary demographic group of viewers.

“I have a pretty good relationship with the kids. They were very excited about it,” he said. “They think it’s cool and my colleagues and principal were real supportive of it. There are always a few people that kind of question it, but you’re always going to have those.”

Maintaining this kind of double life isn’t easy, to say the least. Holscher rises at 5 am every day to do his road work and doesn’t complete his daily training until approximately 10 pm. If he is lucky, he can catch a few winks between the close of the school day and the outset of his training that is interspersed each day with his coaching duties.

“After training is done around 10, I may have to go home and grade papers for an hour or so, sometimes,” said Holscher. His schedule has been in the same taxing state for a year and a half since he initially accepted the teaching position.

“It’s a challenge, but I was a college athlete and I grew up on a farm so time management was ingrained in me a long time ago. If I wanted to make my schedule easier, I could just take a few things off my plate, but I don’t want to do that right now.”

While a number of his teaching colleagues used their recent spring break to vacation and regroup, Holscher continued his daily MMA regimen and even ventured north one week to San Jose, an MMA hotbed and the home of Strikeforce, to train with a number of the sport’s top athletes. “I slept in the gym for almost the whole week,” he noted.

“Right now, I’m just enjoying the ride. I’m blessed that I have the opportunity to train with some of the top guys. Wherever this takes me, I’m going along with it and going to bust my butt. Wherever I end up in a year or 10 years, that’s where I’ll be.”

Tickets for the first SHO MMA: Strikeforce Challengers event are on sale at the Save Mart Center box office and select Save Mart Supermarkets as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online ( and Strikeforce’s official website (

Undefeated lightweight (155 lb. limit) sensation Billy Evangelista (9-0) will face off with hard-hitting brawler and BJ Penn protégé “Iron” Mike Aina (11-6-1) in the main event that will air live, along with as many as four other Strikeforce bouts, on SHOWTIME at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from the Save Mart Center.

Also during the live telecast, female MMA upstart Kim “Sugar Free” Couture (1-1), wife of MMA legend Randy Couture, will take a major step up in competition when she squares off with submission expert Miesha Tate (5-1) in a 135 lb. limit featured contest while Aaron Rosa (11-2) will meet Anthony “A Train” Ruiz (21-12) in a light heavyweight (205-pound limit) fight.