Fighting instinct drives life of Mustang’s Mendoza on, off the mat

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Ron Mendoza wrestles in the final match of the dual meet against Sacramento City. Photo by Paul Muyskens
Ron Mendoza wrestles in the final match of the dual meet against Sacramento City. Photo by Paul Muyskens

Ron Mendoza “came out fighting,” said his mother Connie. “He came out not breathing, he was sent to the ICU immediately.”

The instinct to fight hasn’t left Ron, now 18.

“Life always hit on me,” he said. 

Since then, all he has done is fight – on the school playground, on the mat, in the octagon and within himself. Ron is currently a member of the school’s wrestling team in his first year at Delta College.

All the while, he is relentlessly pursuing the title as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) World Champion.

Early lessons

Mendoza gets hit a lot, more so outside of wrestling competition.

He was hit when he was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder, which makes it tough for one to make sense of the sounds surrounding them, and tough to focus on multiple things at once, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). He speaks in simple and direct terms. 

He was hit on his elementary school playground where he would be beaten by his classmates because of his fierce way with words. “I was so bad, and very mean to my family and others” Mendoza said. He would come home with bruises on his face and spirit.

“He told me when he was 10 he wanted to stop getting beat up,” said Connie.

She took him to train martial arts together at Nick Diaz Academy, and she attributes a martial artist’s humble virtues to be the spark that changed him for the better.

“When he started training, he started learning discipline and how to calm himself,” his mother said. Though “He even choked me out! He made me pass out!” she said with a laugh.

For Ron, training with Diaz has been “the biggest honor.”

“I used to be the biggest fan of Nate [Diaz], now he is my coach. I always roll with him, and I am going to get him one day, but he kicks my butt,” said Ron.

Father’s Deportation
and Removal From School

At the same age he was being smacked around at school, Mendoza was hit again when he learned that his father was deported to Mexico after being questioned by police while fishing.

“I always love him no matter what, and I always contact him no matter what,” Mendoza said.

Ron’s father lived a life of trouble in Southern California before turning things around and becoming an usher in his church.

“My husband did a lot of bad things when he was young,” Connie said. “He was deported many times and would keep coming back. Eventually he got his life together and fell off the radar criminally. One day [the police] caught him fishing and he didn’t have any ID, so [the police] took him to their station and all of his history came back.” 

Mendoza was taken out of school after his father was deported and did not return until he was 15. 

“He didn’t have school from [ages] 10-15, he just trained … living and breathing jiu-jitsu at that time,” Connie said.

Glorious Return To School

His return was worrisome at first because his last memories of school were physical altercations, but he turned his second time around into something great.

He was a versatile athlete and leader during his four years of high school, competing in swimming, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and serving  as a captain on his football team.

He was hit again when school administration told him he wouldn’t graduate with a diploma and that he would never be enrolled in non-remedial classes.  

“He graduated with so many honors,” his mother said. “He graduated with multiple scholarships after being told he would not even get a diploma.”  

He was hit again this past year when his mother, who is always by his side, nearly died of heart failure due to malnourishment. She has nearly lived in the hospital for the past few months, making trips in and out frequently. She wears her current streak of seven days away from medical centers as a badge of pride.

“She was struggling breathing and [couldn’t] get up, she almost died,” Ron said. “I don’t know what to do without her, I always pray to God to keep her safe, that’s all that matters.”

Today

Nowadays, everything Mendoza does is to better himself as a fighter. 

With his faith in God accompanying him, his ultimate goal is to have the title of World Champion in Mixed Martial Arts. 

He follows a strict diet in hopes to attain peak physical ability, which certainly shows in his figure. A few years ago he weighed in at 300 pounds, a weight he cut to as low as 198 pounds.

As he climbs out of bed to begin his mornings, his mind is: “focused on grades, lifting weights, wrestling practice, jiu-jitsu.”

He is planning on taking up cheerleading in the near future, which he views as another way to improve as an athlete. Cheerleading, for him, is to spend time improving his flexibility, which is important in jiu-jitsu, and is a way for him to get close to pretty girls.

His uninterruptible focus on improving himself is something his mother says is a result of his Auditory Processing Disorder. It is said to be a disability, though she said  “[APD] is good in this way, for what he wants to do, because he is so focused.”