urtis Blaydes is an American Professional MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Artist, currently competing in the Heavyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Blaydes became a professional in 2014, but before that, he had to start somewhere. His path to fame would soon begin on the wrestling team at De La Salle Institute, which Blaydes described to me as a seminal moment in his life and career path.
Blaydes’ love for wrestling began at De La Salle and grew stronger after he won the state championship. He went on to continue his love for wrestling at Northern Illinois University and at Harper College. “Even in college, I still wanted to be an athlete and have a reason to sweat. I missed the camaraderie of being on a sports team,” said Blaydes.
A former friend of Blaydes, also a De La Salle graduate, first introduced him to the MMA/kickboxing world and suggested that he should take it up due to his love of wrestling. “I was able to use my wrestling as a base, and over time, it just grew from there,” noted Blaydes. Eventually, he ended up loving MMA, and he realized that it was something he was truly talented at and something he could succeed in. Finding success in the MMA world omtivates him to continue growing in the sport and to expand his horizon.
Blaydes disclosed that being a part of the wrestling team at De La Salle was immensely important to him. “Those were the best years of my life and the lessons I learned will forever stay with me,” said Blaydes. Being a part of that team was more than just winning and losing but learning and growing as a person. The people he met, the places he visited, and the moments he experienced taught Blaydes a lot of the values he holds close to him today—such as hard work and perseverance. From his days at De La Salle, Blaydes learned unforgettable lessons about determination and not giving up. “As a student at De La Salle, participating on the wrestling team was an escape for me. I was able to do what I loved and all my worries went away,” said Blaydes. Without a doubt, all those lessons helped shape who he is today, and for that, Blaydes will forever be grateful and can never forget where he started—as a Meteor at 3434 S Michigan Avenue.
Now based in Denver, Colorado, Blaydes looks forward to the times when he can get back to Chicago. It makes him feel happy and proud to be from Chicago. “Like everything in life, Chicago has its ups and downs, trials and tribulations, but regardless, it will always be home. No matter where I am now, at heart I am always a proud Chicgoan,” said Blaydes. Blaydes always tries to represent his hometown wherever he goes because he knows deep-down Chicago is the foundation of who he is, where he started and how he has evolved. Blaydes continues to visit De La Salle to see the growth of the school and how it has changed since he was once a student. Over the past 12 years since Blaydes graduated in 2009, the school is prospering and it warms Blaydes’ heart to see future generations of Meteors finding their own paths to success.
To know that one of De La Salle’s very own who walked the same halls, learned in the same classrooms and partook in the same extra-curricular activities is now competing for a Heavyweight title is truly inspiring. Blaydes was able to make something of himself and succeed. Not only is he succeeding in something he’s truly talented at, he’s succeeding in something he loves. His story is an inspiration to our current students. It shows us all that a dream is never too big or impossible to achieve. “If you love it, do it because you never know the greatness of your outcome,” said Blaydes.