MMA competitor speaks to Poplar Bluff Junior High students

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KBSI) – A Poplar Bluff native who is now competes professionally as a mixed martial artist recently spoke to students at Poplar Bluff Junior High about his career.

TeeJay “Bad Newz” Britton discussed his professional career as a mixed martial artist to the junior high student body, kicking off a Black History Month series celebrating African American alumni making an impact beyond Missouri.

“If I can do it, I promise you, you can,” Britton told the seventh graders during the split assemblies held on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Prior, he mentioned that he has “been one of these kids in this gym.”

His mother was paralyzed from the waist down. His father struggled with addiction. However, Britton was taught never to feel sorry for himself. “My mom would say, ‘What are you gonna do to change [your circumstances]?’”

Britton graduated Poplar Bluff High School in 2000. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

He maintains a winning featherweight record in MMA, according to Sherdog, a website devoted to the sport of mixed martial arts.

He has a victory in Bellator, the second largest promotion under UFC.

Britton, now 40, says he has one more bout on his contract, along with two boxing matches, and hopes to have his next nationally televised fight in June, according to his agent.

He has won multiple championship belts including the Cage of Honor banner.

Britton stands 6 feet 4 inches tall in the 145-pound weight division.

He entered his martial arts career as a multi-sport athlete, having played professional basketball overseas. He was also an All-American track and field runner.

“One thing that changed my life is being consistent,” Britton said to the audience.

He remembers listening to a military spokesman when he was in junior high, and the most important piece of advice he received was simply to make his bed each morning. The significance of the message he realized was that “no matter how your day’s going, when you come home, your bed’s gonna be made.”

He lost his first televised fight despite having a smooth weight cut and a training camp without injuries, Britton recalled. But he said he got back into “grind mode” and won his next match.

“Everything can go right and you can still come out short, but how you respond to adversity is everything,” he said.

Britton shared he worked out at 5 a.m. before arriving to the junior high to give the speech and planed to return to the gym afterward. He says he practices multiple disciplines each day.

“Motivation is gonna go away and leave, but successful people are consistent,” he explained. “…You can do anything you set your mind to, plus hard work.”

Britton said he writes down his goals. He asks himself what he is doing to ensure he achieves them. He tries to better himself daily which in turn helps influence those around him, including his five children he is raising with wife Britney, he said.

Britton advised the students that who they choose to surround themselves with is essential, and he had to change his mentality growing up.

“Success breeds success,” said Britton. “Respect will take you farther than anything.”

During a question and answer portion, Britton was asked about famous athletes he has met while practicing with the Houston Rockets or serving as an alternative on The Ultimate Fighter. His favorite to watch was his sister Tenisha Miller, a six-time state champion in Mules Track and Field.

Junior High science teacher Solely Dugas is Britton’s niece and Junior High Principal Candace Warren also served as his English teacher.

Britton’s appearance included talks with the multicultural world class and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It was followed on Friday, Feb. 24, by returning keynote speaker and PBHS alumnus Cortez Higgs, founder of The Catalyst Effect, an intercity youth development program.

Categories: News