Payson Man Earns Mixed-Martial Arts Black Belt

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Look up perseverance in the dictionary and you might see a picture of Wyatt Shepherd.

His image would lie on the pages because the Payson man is a perfect example insistence and determination.

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Wyatt Shepherd

For example, it took him 10 years of arduous training to finally attain his goal of fighting professionally in the mixed martial arts ranks.

"I stepped into the cage for my first pro fight May 31 at the Full Moon Fighting Organization in Rocky Point, Mexico to test my skills at the highest level of competition," he said.

His opponent, Carlos Perez of the Southwest Mixed Martial Arts School in Tempe, was no match for the Payson man.

"After an action-filled first round, I was able to submit him with a rear naked choke (hold) one minute into the second round," Shepherd said. "I won my first professional fight."

After the fight, Shepherd was promoted to a second-degree back belt in Pankration.

Shepherd, who owns the Pankration Martial Arts school in Payson, defines the discipline as "one in which jujitsu and judo form the core of the program."

Pankration can include Muay Thai kickboxing, grappling and techniques integrated from karate, taekwondo and kung fu.

"It is a hybrid martial arts system that has taken the techniques that actually work from all martial arts systems and put them into one," Shepherd said.

Shepherd has been teaching the martial arts form in Payson for the past four years.

Among his students is Randy Steinke who holds a second-degree blue belt.

In Rocky Point, Steinke improved his professional record to 3-1 by defeating J.R. Concreate with a choke hold, Shepherd said.

Before Shepherd turned pro, he competed on the North American Grappling Association (NAGA) circuit.

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