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Jason Vele qualifies for the Mixed Martial Arts competition this month

Jason Vele proudly wears the American Samoa flag at every fight to show where he is from, and who has now qualified into one of the big leagues of the MMA competition, representing American Samoa.  [courtesy photo]

Jason Vele of Tafeta, never thought he would have any interest in Mixed Martial Arts — which is a full-contact combat sport that allows both grappling and striking, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from other combat sports and martial arts.

He boxed growing up but his main passion was to play football. Vele, who graduated from Tafuna High School, received a football scholarship to New Mexico Military Institute, but a couple of weeks after his graduation, got into a car accident, which injured his shoulder.

Doctors told him he could no longer play football because of his shoulder. He could not lift, punch or do anything with his arm. “My dream was to play football and get into the NFL, but that dream shattered because of my shoulder. I let go of myself and gained 40 pounds,” Vele told Samoa News.

Vele, a devout Mormon, then chose to serve a two-year mission, which was in Australia. And it was during this time, Vele came to believe it was his faith in God and sacrifice of two years to preach God’s word to the people of Australia that healed his shoulder, because he was able to move it again.

After serving a mission, he applied for college again so he could play football, but school became too expensive for him. Vele then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he got into boxing and decided to learn different types of fighting such as mixed martial arts. He knew it would be something that could help him train harder and get fit again.

“Jason is the type of guy who never gives up, even when he was injured he just wanted to keep doing something else with his life no matter what happens.” said Nathan, a close friend of Vele.

Surprisingly Vele amazed himself learning mixed martial arts fast, to the point where it became a passion, especially how it also showed he had no more problems to his shoulder.

It’s been 3 years and Vele has fought in different competitions, such as New Breed Ultimate Challenge, White Belt Brazillian Jiu Jitzu Competition, North American Grappling Association Competition, and the American Grappling Challenge.

However, the biggest competition for Vele came last November where he won the Turfwars Kentucky light heavyweight title and so far he has 5 wins and 3 losses.

And then last month, Vele won 3 gold medals in the combination of North American Grappling/ Brazillian Jiu Jitzu Tournament in Ohio, qualifying him to fight in the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition on Feb. 25 in Indiana.

“I have so much passion in this sport. My goal is to get to the big leagues especially the UFC, and so far I am getting closer,” he told Samoa News.

This fight will lead him to become an official MMA fighter for the Ultimate Fighting Championship also known as UFC. Vele, who proudly wears the American Samoa flag at every fight, said, “When I go to my fights, I take home with me, which is the American Samoa flag. This is something I now love to do, so I can take it back with me home and share it with the community.”

Vele thanks God and his family for the blessings he has received to continue to do something with his life and not give up and encourages those who are struggling to not give up but keep going no matter what situation you are in.

Samoa News wishes Jason Vele best of luck in this month’s competition!