Many people call Nick Moghaddam, "The Mercenary." He got the nickname a couple years ago after taking a mixed martial arts fight on a day's notice simply because he wanted the money.
Moghaddam, a former Newport Harbor High and Orange Coast College football player, wasn't really ready. He was a bit out of shape and had a hamstring problem. But he still won.
Moghaddam admits he wasn't prepared to fight. Yet, it seems as if whenever there has been a fight he has always been game.
He certainly won't back down Friday night.
Moghaddam is in the main event, 205 pounds, going up against Ricardo "Pantcho" Feliciano in the Lords of Socal at UC Irvine's Bren Event Center.
Moghaddam, who has a 5-3 record, knows he's ready this time, and he should be as Feliciano is undefeated at 3-0.
"This is a pretty good fight for me," Moghaddam said Tuesday after a workout at L.A. Boxing in Costa Mesa. "It's a pretty credible opponent. He's undefeated, but he hasn't fought anybody like me yet."
Moghaddam is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt. Feliciano is a black belt.
But Moghaddam still enters with great confidence. Part of that comes from his ability to have cut weight at least a week before going up against Pantcho.
Six weeks ago, Moghaddam ballooned to 247 pounds because he dealt with another hamstring problem that kept him from running or training. He says he became chubby last month, but quickly lost the fat when he received the OK to train.
Bouncing back from a setback or overcoming adversity isn't foreign to Moghaddam.
When his dreams for the NFL ended in 2005, he thought he had found his calling as an MMA fighter. But he was humbled after losing his first two pro fights.
His mentor, renowned fighter Allan Goes, also cut him down.
"You know what," Goes told Moghaddam. "Maybe fighting is not for you."
"That just stuck with me," Moghaddam said. "I'm a competitive person. I don't like being told I'm not good at something. I wanted to prove myself and I wanted to prove it to myself."
Moghaddam took a year and a half off from pro competition. When he came back he reeled off four straight wins.
"The first win was like bliss," he said. "It was an unexplainable feeling when they raised my hand. I was just so happy I didn't even know what to say. It was like the same feeling as winning [the CIF Southern Section Division VI championship in football] only better because I did it by myself."
Moghaddam didn't really expect to become a pro fighter, yet it somehow seemed to come natural for him. He trained in martial arts as a child, and learned from his father, who was skilled in taekwondo and judo. He also wrestled with his twin brother, Chris, who competed in wrestling at Newport Harbor.
Moghaddam chose to play football in high school, as a defensive lineman. After graduating from Newport Harbor in 2000, he played at Orange Coast College.
After two years with the Pirates, he earned a scholarship to play at East Carolina. He played there one year and left to make a run at the NFL.
A shoulder injury prevented that intention. He was up to 287 pounds while playing his final year of college football.
Without football and while dealing with the injury, he lost 50 pounds. He also, admittedly, lost direction in his life.
Moghaddam said he didn't have a father figure since high school when his parents divorced.
However, by chance, he met Goes at a local Flame Broiler.
Moghaddam did a double take when he first saw Goes because he recognized him from the video game, "Pride," he played.
Moghaddam has been learning from him ever since. Goes invited him to train with him.
"The first day I came, he whooped my ass," said Moghaddam, who is a trainer/instructor at L.A. Boxing in Aliso Viejo. "From then on I was stuck really. He intrigued me."
In addition to losing his first two fights, Moghaddam also dealt with another challenge last year. He tore a pectoral muscle. It took six months to recover.
But now he's ready.
The Mercenary wants to deliver Pantcho his first loss on Friday night.