By Carson McKinney
In his time from washing dishes to managing the kitchen at Volta Taverna, James Wallace was always a fighter. Now training full-time, he’s on the verge of breaking into the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Wallace’s love of fighting began when he was 15 years old at his local gym in Horn Lake, Mississippi. After winning his first fight, he began fighting to stay in shape for baseball season in high school but got “addicted” to the individual nature of fighting and the audiences’ reactions.
“In baseball, you can have a great game, but somebody else can make an error and you can lose the game,” Wallace said. “You can score 50 points in basketball and lose the game. This is just you in there [the ring]. If it’s your night, it’s all on you and everybody sees that it’s your night. Sometimes it’s not your night, and you have to wear that, too.”
Wallace moved to Oxford and worked at Volta Taverna to support his wife while she attended Ole Miss. Working both morning and night shifts, he trained whenever he could and received support from Volta owner Brooke Krizbai, who gave him flexible hours and allowed him time off to make weight and go to fights until he began training full-time.
“He’s always been talented and focused,” Krizbai said. “He decided to leave Volta so he could fully focus on his MMA career. He is doing what he truly loves.”
Even now, Volta supports and sponsors Wallace with their logo on his banner and shirts. Wallace said he visits Volta and Krizbai whenever he returns to Oxford to see friends Jaime Houston of Oxford Fitness Kickboxing and Matt Webb and Codie Shuffield of Hit Fitness.
Wallace fought Joseph Solecki on Tuesday, July 9 in Dana White’s Contender Series—an American mixed martial arts promotion. Though he lost the fight, Wallace has no intention of slowing down.
“I came up short; it just wasn’t my night,” Wallace said. “I’m back to the drawing board.”
Wallace said he would more than likely fight his next two matches in the regional scene. After his regional matches, he said he would look back into fighting in the UFC or in the contender series.
“I’m right back to fighting, and I’m booking another fight for September,” he said.
Now training with American Top Team, one of the primary teams in mixed martial art, Wallace works diligently to meet his two long-term goals: getting a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu and fighting in the UFC, where he hopes to “win for a long time.”
Wallace said he trains all the time. Although he works and teaches at his gym, Wallace said the only thing that changes is his training is more specific for certain opponents. Right now, he might train once or twice a day, but when fight camp starts he will train at least two sessions minimum, sometimes three.
“When you switch into fight mode, the training and intensity gets upped,” Wallace said. “I have to get back on the horse and get back in the cage and win.”