MMA, family helping Selma fighter Samuel Fierro turn his life around

Selma's Samuel Fierro is one of the top amateur MMA fighters in California, after being kicked out of high school and finding himself in and out of jail from age 18 to 22.

Friday night, Fresno's Tower Theatre will host two dozen local MMA fighters for "559 Fights 55." The main event features a Selma man who's found himself in a lot of trouble over the years - but is turning his life around, thanks in part to mixed martial arts.

Life is a learning process. It's why you can find 26-year-old Samuel Fierro in a gym in Selma. Fierro's one of the top amateur MMA fighters in California right now, but is training, studying, to be a professional.

"Just another kid from the Valley trying to make it big, trying to do something positive with my life. So that way I can reach back to my community and give back, you know, for all the things that I took, for all the bad that I did," says Fierro.

The "bad" Fierro is referencing started as a freshman at Selma high, when Fierro, a promising wrestler, was kicked out for bringing weed to school.

"I thought my life was over, ya know? I was a young kid, I didn't think life was beyond wrestling, and so I just said, 'F it, you know. I'm going to do what I want to do,'" says Fierro.

That mindset put Fierro in and out of jail from age 18 to 22. He says it was while behind bars, that "real gangsters" actually helped him reevaluate. "They were like, 'what are you doing? You need to do something positive with your life. You're in here for six months, I'm looking at life. You need to change.'"

It was around this time, Fierro discovered mixed martial arts, and became a father. Fierro now has three young kids, plus two stepchildren, and says he's staying on the straight and narrow. "I thank God that I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn't continue living the life I was living. And that He placed people in my life. I truly believe that He did."

Today, Fierro's a stay-at-home dad, who also helps his coach, Bruce Tafoya, train the youngsters in Selma.

"I get to see them develop and some of those kids look up to me, you know. And it's a good feeling. What I'm doing with my life is good now," says Fierro.

Life is a learning process. It's how Samuel Fierro got here - a rising fighter, with a fresh outlook and renewed purpose.