The Celis family name is in good hands.
Coming from a family with combat sports ingrained in their roots, Lorenzo Celis, 24, has fully committed himself to turning MMA into his career.
Celis said having a family that’s so immersed in combat sports is a big help, and allows him to live, eat, and breathe the lifestyle necessary to succeed.
“Having the amount of support I have is actually pretty crazy,” said Celis.
“My dad is the one who’s dedicating most of his time towards me pursuing this because he’s been putting money down for me to train full-time.”
Although he’s only been training MMA for six years, Celis has been training and competing in taekwondo since he was five years old.
With his father, Washington, and uncle, Boris, being the master instructors at Celis Taekwondo Academy in Regina, SK, Celis has developed an elite taekwondo base through years of hard work.
“The first time I did a tournament I was six years old. After that, it was tournaments every two months,” said Celis.
“I’ve been all over Canada, I’ve been to the United States a few times, and I went to Puerto Rico twice.”
Once he turned 18, Celis began taking on new forms of martial arts, under the tutelage of Sean Quinn, to begin moulding himself into an MMA athlete.
He said watching the UFC growing up was a big reason why he wanted to begin training MMA, but also to follow in the footsteps of one of his biggest influences.
“Anderson Silva was one of my big inspirations because he became one of my favourite fighters. I’ve been watching him since I was nine or 10 years old,” reminisced Celis.
“One day I just decided hey I want to do that and pursue that.”
Less than one month ago, Celis accomplished the biggest feat of his young career, capturing the XFFC amateur middleweight title at XFFC 21, defeating Jordan Noseworthy via second round TKO.
He said winning that title meant more to him than many people know, especially coming off what was a tough 2018 for him.
“In that moment, I closed my eyes, took a big deep breath, and just said finally.
“2018 was just such a pain in the ass for me. It was just fight cancelation after fight cancelation. The fight with Jordan was definitely quite the relief, and finally I got to show off my skills and put on a show for the fans.”
Celis’ sights have now turned to the 2019 National Amateur Championships, which begin April 10 in Lethbridge, Alta.
Although typically a middleweight, Celis will be competing at light heavyweight for the tournament due to same-day weigh-ins.
While the gold and silver medalists for each weight class are offered a spot on Team Canada for the IMMAF World Championships, Celis said he will be choosing to opt out of that opportunity, if earned, and make the jump to the professional ranks.
“My goal is to just be a two-division champ. Since I won the middleweight title, I also want to be a light heavyweight champion and secure my amateur career with that,” said Celis.
“I’m not getting any younger, so I want to do this and get it out of the way so I can start pursuing my professional career.”
Representing Celis Academy
On top of his own training, Celis also teaches part-time with his father, Washington, at Celis Taekwondo Academy.
Washington said his son has become a significant role model to the younger students, and continues to garner much support from the Celis Academy family each time he steps in the cage.
“When Lorenzo wins, all the parents, the students, the kids, and the adults are all very proud of him, which helps my academy as well,” said Washington.
“It’s a great reputation for the academy when the instructor’s winning.”
When Celis first approached his father about making a career of MMA, he was in the middle of completing his university degree.
Having earned his degree in engineering, Washington, originally from Chile, said at first he was not fully behind his son’s decision to drop out of school to begin a career in fighting.
“When I came to Canada, my only way out of poverty was to go to school and make something out of myself, other than being a martial arts practitioner. So, when Lorenzo came up to me I wasn’t too receptive,” said Washington.
“But when he put it into context that his window of opportunity is now and he didn’t want to miss it, I told him let’s give it a shot.”
With Celis now being four fights into his amateur career with a 3-0-1 record, Washington said he’s fully behind his son’s MMA career and goals.
Having been involved in martial arts all his life, Washington said he can see his son has all the necessary assets to be successful in MMA.
“In martial arts, there’s two important things; desire and discipline. And Lorenzo seems to have them both,” said Washington.
“He doesn’t just want to become Anderson Silva or Conor McGregor; he wants to be better than them.”