Laredo Sports Medicine Clinic is proud to announce our spotlight athlete for July 2015…Rick Guerra, Jr.! Every athlete who has ever competed at any level has suffered some type of injury at one point or another. Serious injuries can sometimes be life altering, especially when the injury happens to a young athlete. Rick’s journey of overcoming a potentially serious injury is a true success story and has helped shape the athlete he is today.
Rick has always had a passion for mixed martial arts. At the age of four, Rick began his sports career by delving into karate at his father’s locally owned gym, Rick Guerra’s Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. From there on, a spark in him was born. As the years went by, he continued with his passion for karate.
By the time Rick was 15 years old, he had already earned his black belt and experimented with boxing and Brazilian jujitsu. It wasn’t until he was in high school that his interests had peaked into taking up MMA training.
After graduating from high school in 2007, he pursued his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Texas A & M International University while simultaneously focusing on MMA training.
After competing (and winning) in his first MMA fight in July of 2010, Rick was unstoppable. Completing his degree from TAMIU in 2010, Rick decided to pursue MMA fighting full time. Everything seemed to be falling into place for Rick until one day, during one of his fights, he suffered a back injury.
Feeling some severe discomfort, Rick decides to consult the physicians at Laredo Sports Medicine Clinic for advice. Dr. John Puig suggested an MRI, which showed that Rick had ruptured his L4/L5 disc in his back. At Dr. Puig’s recommendation, Rick was then referred to a specialist in San Antonio. To Rick’s shock, the specialist relayed some devastating news; he was in very serious condition and needed surgery to help fix his injury. Rick felt helpless and distraught. Due to the severity of his injury, he was unable to do even the most basic of things. He lost the ability to feel in various areas of his body and the extent of the injury worried him, but he was unwilling to go through a surgery that might hinder him from getting back in the ring again.
After some inner turmoil, Rick made the difficult decision to opt out of the surgery and take the physical therapy route with LSMC instead. For the next six months, Rick would have to attend physical therapy sessions religiously, eager to regain the feeling and strength that the injury had taken out of him. At times, Rick felt he was wasting his time and wondered if he had made the right decision to deny the recommended surgery. Something inside him kept reminding him that the body of an athlete was different from a regular body. He knew that his body could return to normal if he only stayed positive and patient.
Little by little, Rick started to notice improvement through the help of the physical therapy. He slowly regained feeling in his toes and that further convinced him that he had made the right decision. The only question that still remained was, would he be able to get back in the ring?
A full eight months after his injury, Rick walked back into his martial arts academy to see if he still had his spark. Worried about overexerting himself, Rick slowly began his training regimen once more. A year and a half later, Rick was ready to get back in the ring. Shortly after, Rick found himself competing in his second professional MMA fight in Laredo, knocking out his opponent in 45 seconds.
Finally Rick felt a sense of accomplishment. He felt as though he had overcome an injury that had hindered him for so long. To date, Rick has competed in 7 fights total, taking away winnings in 6 of those. His most recent fight was at the Laredo Coliseum where he competed in the inaugural Border Wars. Rick won the fight against his opponent, Rick Bailey, in 90 seconds. That same evening, Rick was contacted to compete for the US National 170 pound title. The competition for that title is set to take place on December 4, 2015 in his hometown of Laredo, Texas.
These days, Rick divides his time as an MMA fighter as well as a personal trainer and instructor at Rick Guerra’s Academy of Mixed Martial Arts two locations where he is passionate about instilling into his students the skills and values of MMA fighting. His training regimen is a little more intense these days as he prepares to compete for the National title. Winning this title means a lot to him because he would automatically receive a contract with the UFC, his ultimate goal.
Rick is a driven athlete who has overcome obstacles to get where he is today. He largely credits his ability to compete in the ring to LSMC’s physical therapy department for the help he received from them when he was temporarily deterred from his dream. A firm believer that everything happens for a reason, Rick knows that every obstacle he’s faced has only made him stronger and led him to his success as an athlete.
He is strongly motivated by his girlfriend, April, and his one-year-old son, Ricky, whose birth inspired him to set his priorities straight. Rick’s hope is to continue in the ring as an MMA fighter for as long as his body will allow him to. He is proud to continue his efforts to bring more of the MMA scene to Laredo to break the common misconception that MMA is just two guys fighting in a cage.
In his own words, Rick says,
“MMA is a lot more than a high contact sport. Understanding technique, working as a team, and knowing the difference between being just another fighter and truly living the life of a martial artist, that’s what MMA really is to me.”
LSMC congratulates and is proud to recognize Rick Guerra, Jr. as July’s Spotlight Athlete!