COLLEGE STATION - On February 28 in Arlington, Aggie Bubba Bush retained the Legacy Fighting Middleweight Championship with a rear-naked choke, forcing a stoppage in the second round against Hakim Cleveland. His first instinct wasn't to celebrate a title defense.
Bush rolled his 185 pounds off of Cleveland's 200 and knelt next to him, making sure he was OK.
In the post-fight interview broadcast live across the country on AXSTV, Bush noted the $1,000 bonus he'd receive from Legacy for the submission win, and said that money was going to Restore Her, the program at local Christian camp Still Creek Ranch that helps girls at risk for or rescued from sex trafficking. The sponsor of the bonus would double that $1,000 based on Bush's donation.
That fight was on a Friday night. Most Sunday nights, you'll find him at a Bible study.
"My goal is to be a servant, a servant of God first, and then a servant to others," Bush said. "A big part of what we yearn for in the church is to be a warrior servant, and to be able to protect those in need."
Bush's warrior credentials are hardly in question. The story of the man who strikes and grapples in a mixed martial arts cage might not be what you'd expect from someone with such specialties.
In sixth grade, Bush fell in love with wrestling when he lived in Virginia, and continued to cultivate that love in Texas, including at Texas A&M. He was in the Corps of Cadets, with the only thing keeping him from a military career being diabetes. He graduated with discipline and a finance degree.
"He could do anything," said Chloe Turner, his fiance. "He is the most intelligent man I know, but God continually shut the door on anything with finance, anything that was not fighting."
"A&M's not known for fighting or wrestling necessarily, but we're in the right place to get to the right places," Bush said.
Those right places have been at events here at home and across the state and region. As a pro, the 28-year-old has racked up a 7-2 record. In his seventh fight with Texas-based Legacy, Bush won the middleweight title. He defended it seven months later against Cleveland.
"That's not my end-all goal, to win the title. I have a purpose in it, but while I'm here, we might as well be trying our hardest to do the best we can," Bush said.
So what is the goal?
"To spread the word of God," he answered. "The goal is to help people in life."
Bush's training takes place at Brazos Valley Mixed Martial Arts, started by others years ago, but now featuring Bush as a partner -- where the finance degree surely comes in handy -- and as a trainer helping kids and adults hone MMA skills.
"Everyone that comes to the program leaves with better body control, self-awareness and knowledge of the martial arts," Bush said. "I don't know that everyone leaves being better at life, but I also like to try and influence and help people."
Above the door to BVMMA's Post Oak Mall location are the words of Proverbs 21:31: "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD."
Angela Sanchez not only trains at BVMMA, her three young children go through training as well. Not only do they have better health, she says they're less aggressive outside the gym, more focused, and straight A students.
"They sit back and just look at everything in a different perspective," Sanchez said. "It teaches them that they're calm and collected before they act."
From college students looking to work out frustrations, to kids looking for after-school exercise and fun, to adults dealing with addictions to substances looking for a better addiction, a bevy of people come through BVMMA's doors. Success stories like the Sanchez boys' are what Bush and his teammates are hoping to achieve. Some families can't afford the costs, and BVMMA is hoping people will come to them to sponsor a child they know.
Mixed martial arts obviously aren't for everybody, and there is a stigma that often comes with the sport.
"Some people see it and are turned away by it," Bush said. "Some people see it and are drawn towards it, and those are the people that we're trying to reach, the ones that are drawn. I have family that condemns it and doesn't understand how it can be a good thing, but at the end of the day, I look at them and say, 'I'm not enemies with any person I've ever fought.'"
It's something his fiance -- who admits to preconceived notions of MMA herself before meeting Bush -- backs up.
"Bubba would never fight someone who didn't agree to come into the cage," Turner said. "It's not like he goes out and looks for a fight. If you look at the Bible, God uses so many men that were, not what you would consider your typical preacher in a sweater vest."
Bush defends his LFC middleweight championship Friday, June 13 at the Arena Theatre in Houston. The event will be televised on AXSTV (formerly HDNet). His opponent is an undefeated competitor, Roger Narvaez. Bush's skills will be put to the test, but one would imagine his training and his faith would have him ready.
"The more capabilities we have, the more ways that we can serve," he said. "God uses prepared people. I am a warrior, but I'm also a Christian."