This is the third in a series of stories focusing on the next generation of MMA talent here on the North Coast, as Humboldt Sports takes a closer look at the many rising local stars in the sport.
By Ray Hamill — Like many local MMA fighters, Andrew Guisa is chomping at the bit to get back in the cage, especially with ambitions of turning pro in 2021.
The former Eureka High wrestler, who took up the sport of MMA almost five years ago, had planned on making the leap to the pro ranks this year, but those plans were put on hold because of COVID-19.
That, however, doesn’t mean Guisa hasn’t been keeping busy and remaining ready to go whenever they do get the green light to return.
“A lot of it is waiting on anything to open up,” he said. “But once we find something, it’s on!”
For Guisa, the goal of turning pro sometime soon remains the plan, as it does with several of his Lost Boys gym teammates, including Jacob Hodge, Tyler Watkins and Ross Lopez.
“It’s pretty exciting that it’s all going to happen soon and that a lot of us are going pro at the same time,” Guisa said.
For the former Eureka Logger, the adventure began in earnest on the night Nate Diaz beat Conor McGregor in March of 2016.
That was the night he debuted in the sport, winning his first MMA fight after just four weeks training.
And apparently his Lost Boys trainers and teammates did a good job preparing him.
“It was actually pretty crazy,” he said. “For four weeks I was getting beat up the whole camp, and the fight itself was easier than camp. It was crazy.”
Guisa won the fight with a second-round rear naked choke, and has since gone on to post a record of 7-2, fighting at 170 pounds.
“Out of all the guys I’ve coached, he’s been the most improved,” said Lost Boys trainer Brian Wilson. “I’ve been so impressed with him. His striking, his wrestling, his jiu jitsu is amazing. he’s just a leader and puts in some really good work.”
That work ethic is something Guisa takes pride in and a habit he learned during his high school days.
Because of it he is one of two team captains at the gym, along with Lopez.
“I don’t know what it is about combat sports, but it builds character and it builds work ethic,” Guisa said. “Wrestling for me is where I built my work ethic.”
The former Logger is one of several rising local MMA fighters who have come through the local youth and high school wrestling circuits.
Eureka head coach Clint Hunter, who coached Guisa all four years in high school, remembers how well he could move about.
“He was bigger then than he is now, and for a bigger kid he could move really well,” Hunter said. “I was always amazed how well he could move around. For a guy who was 200 pounds, he could move like a 130-pounder.”
Guisa admits that part of what drives him to be successful in the sport is the memory of his younger sister, Mariah Redman, who tragically passed away in a car accident as a high school freshman.
“She passed away when I was 16 and so anything I do I always wanted to do the very best for her, to fulfill my ambitions and hers,” Guisa said of Mariah, who played basketball and volleyball. “She was competitive as hell.”
Since joining the Lost Boys, Guisa has kept himself busy and, according to Wilson, is perfectly poised to make the next jump in his career.
“He’s another guy who takes a lot of fights,” the trainer said of the 24-year-old. “He’s kept himself active and he’s setting himself up very nicely to have a really solid pro career.”
Guisa says he relies heavily on his Lost Boys teammates, in and out of the cage.
“Honestly without them I don’t know what I’d be doing today,” he said. “I’ve met some really cool people through the Lost Boys and it’s become such a part of what I’m doing in my life.”