It is said that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”, if this is the case then UFC Light Heavyweight contender Devin “Brown Bear” Clark is a lucky man.
Few people can make the claim that they have been preparing for their profession since the age of six, Clark is among them. Now with visions of greatness on the horizon he is preparing alongside the best fighters in the world at The Jackson/Wink Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico to increase his chances of getting lucky.
As far as opportunity goes, Clark’s career has mirrored the rise of mixed martial arts in his hometown of snowy Sioux Falls, South Dakota. From participating in his state’s first sanctioned event, to having Dana White show up to his fight with a reality show, the opportunities keep arising and Clark keeps getting lucky.
Clark’s journey to the Octagon has taken sacrifice and struggle that the average man cannot comprehend. Now at the doorway of superstardom his commitment to the grind is on the verge making his dreams come true.
If you have witnessed a Devin Clark fight you have no doubt heard the booming voice of his father David Clark. The senior Clark corners his son in his fights and his impassioned commands and encouragement cut through the audience noise to guide Devin through his grueling battles.
David Clark has been in his son’s corner since his days in youth boxing, where David noticed his six year old son possessed an uncommon level of grit for a young child. A year later Clark began wrestling and unknowingly had begun to lay the foundation for his future career as a mixed martial artist.
Clark continued competing in combat sports through out his youth, but when he reached high school he dedicated himself to the wrestling mats, a dedication that would carry him to a South Dakota state title as a Senior.
After high school, Clark would continue his grappling dominance collecting a JUCO National Championship at Rochester Technical and Community College. By this time it was evident that Clark was a special athlete, but there are not many competitive outlets for collegiate wrestlers that do not have Olympic dreams.
In 2010 Clark found that competitive outlet when he started training with local fight gym Team Nak Su, where he would soon learn that his history of cross-training combat sports has a practical application and it’s called mixed martial arts.
Soon after he began training with Nak Su, Clark starting taking amateur fights and had immediate success. From October 2010 to March 2012 he won four amateur fights knocking out all of his opponents within two rounds.
After four victories Clark and his supporting cast realized that fighting was going to be a viable career path and that it was time to start getting paid for beating guys up. Clark knew that if he was going to make it as a pro he would need a bigger camp, so in 2013 he decided to make the move to the largest gym in the Sioux Falls area, the Next Edge Academy.
The pros proved no more of a challenge than the ammys for Clark. He picked up three more stoppages in his first three fights, included in these initial bouts was an undercard victory on RFA 17 against Aaron Brown. This victory was significant because RFA 17 was the first sanctioned MMA event to be held in South Dakota. South Dakota MMA appeared to be following Devin’s rise in popularity.
In 2015, at 4-0, Clark decided it was time to start working with the sports elite in anticipation of his impending call up to the UFC. Clark set out to Las Vegas where he would train under the legendary BJJ Black Belt Robert Drysdale to prepare for his next bout.
The nomadic camp paid off, Clark advanced to 5-0 and received his first opportunity to fight for a title in RFA. Right when it seemed things could not go any better, Clark got word that the president of the UFC Dana White was coming to watch him fight with his reality show “Looking for a Fight” and if he liked what he saw, White would offer Clark a contract that night.
For this possibly life-changing fight, Clark moved his training camp to the world renown Jackson/Winklejohn MMA camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beyond having one of the best coaching staffs in the sport, Jackson/Wink is also home to the best fighter of all time, Jon Jones. Jones would serve as one of Clark’s main sparing partners, as well as good friend and mentor apart from fighting.
Once again Clark made the most of his opportunity by winning his fight and earning the contract. He would debut in the UFC when the octagon came to Sioux Falls for the first time ever.
Six years after he made the decision to become a professional fighter, Devin Clark had made it to the top of the sport and he brought his hometown along for the ride.
Not only is Clark an aspiring MMA champion, He and his fiancé Megan are also devoted parents to a four year old daughter named Eden.
The life of a fighter can be difficult for a young dad, long periods away from home, spouse’s concerns for your health, and unreliable compensation are not ideal for raising a young family, but the motivation to provide for your wife and kids can be the difference between giving up and pushing forward when you’re in the final round.
When he is not in the cage or with his family Devin is very active in the down syndrome community, participating in fundraisers and charities that benefit children with the genetic disorder.
Clark was inspired to volunteer after meeting the son of managerial team member Kevin Tobias Kroger. Kroger’s four year old son Camden has down syndrome and once Clark met the little guy he wanted help out in any way he could.
Clark is also a friend and mentor to Kroger’s seventeen year old son Traevon. Traevon is a high school wrestler much like Devin was and he hopes to one day follow in Devin’s footsteps to becoming a fighter. Clark’s success shows the teen that there is no limit to what you can achieve if you are willing to do the work.
This Saturday night when Devin steps in the Octagon to compete in front of millions of viewers, he will have a gigantic supporting cast including family, friends and fans that will have his back win or lose. For that reason Devin Clark truly is a lucky man.
Check out Devin’s latest interview with James Lynch where he discusses UFC on FOX 24 fight, training with Jon Jones & working with kids.