Compton's Devon Brock opened his Bellator career with a January victory at the Forum over the son of UFC 1 winner Royce Gracie. Friday night at Bellator 197 in St. Louis, Brock confronts Baby Slice, the son of the late mixed martial arts cult hero Kimbo Slice.
That's quite a way to announce one's self to the MMA world, but Brock said that after effectively finding himself a few years ago by helping a struggling Cerebral Palsy patient, he believes his time has come.
"I'm confident I'll win, and I feel it'd be rightfully so," Brock said.
Brock said he was lured from a troubled youth in Santa Maria to a cousin's social program known as FANTAP ("From a negative to a positive"). He was assigned for nearly two years to serve as an around-the-clock caretaker in Pismo Beach for a young man named Tyler Jarvis, whose absence of a particular chromosome left him morbidly obese, suffering from an insatiable appetite.
"It changed my outlook on life, to being a humble person, knowing what people go through and thinking about that," Brock said. "He has to have someone watching him every step of his life. He could never feel full."
Brock said he was warned that without proper supervision Jarvis was at risk to "eat himself to death." Under his supervision, he said, Jarvis hiked routinely and "lost a lot of weight … we got it down and he got slim."
He said the work was intense, requiring locks on refrigerator doors and a watchful eye on Jarvis, even as he slept, to avoid runs toward food.
"He'd build forts with his dressers" to protect some swiped food, "and there'd be swinging, scratching" to stop the behavior," Brock said. "It taught me patience. You can't just react and show anger all the time. Patience, understanding the situation was important.
"I gained a lot by living like that. I saw how many people really don't care about a tough situation you're in. Some people do wrong things, but it helps if someone cares and can explain the consequences of your actions.
"I took that in. … I've got to watch myself."
He said Jarvis now keeps a day job while residing at a group home in Riverside with others dealing with eating disorders, and that he checks in with Brock routinely by phone.
Brock is clearly getting his act together. He balances eight hours of daily MMA training with his full-time job as a night-shift manager at the Gardena Smart & Final while caring for his 3-year-old son, Kyrie.
"It has it's difficulties, but I'm learning to adapt to it," Brock said.