Spearfishing for meals one way MMA fighter Titoni, a Pine Creek grad, funds dream

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Photo - Jordan Titoni looks for fish as he carries his spearfishing gun at the Chatfield Reservoir on Saturday August 5, 2017 in Littleton, Colorado. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
Jordan Titoni looks for fish as he carries his spearfishing gun at the Chatfield Reservoir on Saturday August 5, 2017 in Littleton, Colorado. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

It's been a while since Jordan Titoni had to put meat on his grocery list.

As a mixed martial artist trying to cut expenditures to fully commit to training, he's found spearfishing at the gravel ponds at Chatfield Reservoir to be cost effective.

Titoni, a Pine Creek graduate, is the wrestling coach at Factory X in Englewood. He spends most of his time in the gym.

His girlfriend is heading to Chicago for a tournament (she's a jiu-jitsu competitor) and asked Titoni to travel with her. He declined to save money.

After his win over Jake Mendez in July at Rubicon V, Titoni used some of his fight money to pay his cell phone bill to get it functioning again.

As Top Shelf Entertainment CEO J.R. Chavez put it in an email: "Life of a fighter (...) he has not been able to pay his bill."

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Despite talk of the UFC's biggest star, Conor McGregor, set to make up to nine figures for his boxing debut (he made $3 million in his last UFC fight), the majority of MMA fighters make significantly less, especially those on local circuits.

In order to hone their craft, fighters need to train. A lot. And in order to train, fighters usually can't juggle a typical 9-to-5 job.

Titoni quit the best job he ever had putting in granite countertops after about five years, because it was interfering with training.

For a year and a half, Titoni lived in an RV, jobless. At times he parked in front of friends' houses. Eventually, a cousin's landlord rented a spot in an alley behind his house near Federal and Alameda for Titoni to park in.

It worked for Titoni. It was cheaper than renting an apartment.

He also figured out a way to make extra cash. After a friend gave him a beat-up Subaru with no heater and a hole in the floorboard, Titoni eventually sold it for a few hundred bucks. A light bulb went on.

He started finding cars on Craigslist or from friends available for cheap. He would buy them, then turn around and sell them for a few hundred more.

At one point, Titoni had cars stashed around the greater Denver area.

"I had a lot of people being very supportive and helpful of me," said Titoni, who turns 30 in September.

Meanwhile, he was able to train six days a week.

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Dylan Stubblefield, a former Doherty wrestler and Spartans alum, also does what he must to get by.

He works part time at a bowling alley, Kingpin Lanes. He lives in a room above the Shin Gi Tai gym, where he trains.

"It's not a flashy job," said Stubblefield, who just concluded his amateur career. "Making some sacrifices while I have to."

Stubblefield, like Titoni, had several decent jobs. He sold cell phones, worked customer-service gigs.

But those jobs weren't what he wanted to do, and they didn't allow enough time for his passion.

"I worked a lot of customer service, I was making pretty decent money," Stubblefield said. "But I wasn't able to train the amount of hours I wanted to train."

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After proving his worth at Factory X, Titoni gets paid to coach. He also occasionally helps build stages for concerts at Pepsi Center in Denver and gets paid to fight.

As of his next fight, Stubblefield also will be paid. He announced he was turning pro in July and will likely make his debut in the fall.

He will continue to work at the gym and, when he can, at the bowling alley.

And of course, he'll train full time.

"Now I have a job to where if I do have to leave for a week or two, I can still come back and get a paycheck," Stubblefield said. "You have to make that sacrifice, I think. Anyone who wants to have a fancy car right now, and they've spent all this money, and getting the clothes they want, that'll all come later (for me). In my mind I have to grind more than the next guy. If they're busy making payments on their next Audi, then that's just more training time for me."

Titoni is in the gym working or training six days a week. On Sundays, he heads to a lake or a reservoir searching for fish to harpoon with his spear gun.

On his way home from Pueblo to Englewood after his last fight, Titoni stopped to splurge a little.

He used some of his prize money to buy a kayak in Colorado Springs.

It'll help him on those trips to the lake.

"I literally have a freezer stocked full of fish," he said. "I'm learning how to cook fish. I wasn't very good at it, but I'm starting to get there."

And he's still keeping meat off his shopping list.