Claremore native Reeder excelling as pro mixed martial arts fighter

·7 min read

Jun. 29—Tracy Reeder doesn't do well with the word can't.

That is probably why he seemingly can't lose whenever he steps into a caged octagon. The 2017 Claremore High School graduate is a professional mixed martial arts fighter and sports a 5-0 record at 155 pounds (Lightweight) with three knockouts and two submissions.

Reeder, who qualified for the wrestling state tournament three times as a Zebra under coach Chad Willard and finished second at 145 pounds his senior year, has won four of his five fights in under three minutes.

"Probably the best part of fighting is that 10 seconds where you're running around the cage after you just won," Reeder said. "I mean it's — for lack of better words — it's a drug. It really is. And there's nothing else that can compare to it. It's just knowing you put in months of hard work ... so when it all comes to fruition, it's a drug and a rush that really nothing else compares to."

In his first professional bout, Reeder — dubbed Oklahoma's fastest-rising prospect — took only 1 minute, 56 seconds to score a KO and the victory.

The 23-year-old has been training at the sport for only three years, but Reeder made the decision at the early age of 8 that he was going to be a fighter after his father introduced him to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

"I always knew I'd grow up to fight," Reeder said. "I wrestled in college, but that didn't really pan out the way it was supposed to, and I ended up dropping out of school. It just seemed like the time to pursue the dream."

However, that pursuit began differently than he would've imagined.

After leaving the University of Central Oklahoma wrestling program with the plans of joining some former high school teammates at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kan., Reeder received a message that would change the course of his life and career.

It was Larry Pejak, the owner of Pejak Martial Arts at 401 E 5th St. in Claremore, offering him a once-a-week wrestling coach position at the gym. In return, he would receive training in ju jitsu and other MMA disciplines.

"I was like, 'Yeah, I'm in', and from the first day, I knew I wasn't going to school," Reeder said. "I knew I was going to train and start fighting. I had just a year left where I could wrestle junior college, so I was just going to be there (Labette) for a year and try to jumpstart back to another bigger school, but obviously it didn't pan out that way."

Before long, Reeder was on his way to MMA stardom.

Although he has continued to elevate his career in recent months, Reeder remains a fixture at local gyms.

He still calls Pejak Martial Arts his home gym, sharpening his ju jitsu and grappling work there while also training at Trinity Martial Arts in Pryor and Clinch Martial Arts in Owasso.

Furthermore, most of his fights are held at River Spirit Casino in Tulsa under the "Xtreme Fight Night" banner. Reeder said the shows can draw anywhere from 1,000 — 2,000 spectators, but he isn't the type to suffer from stage fright.

"It's not really anything I didn't grow up doing," Reeder said. "I grew up wrestling in front of a crowd, so I'm pretty used to it. I love that part of it. I love the crowd. That just gets me hyped up. I'm the center of attention, you know, I'm an attention (expletive). I love it. I love being the center of attention, all eyes on me. That's probably weird to say, but that's my favorite part about fighting. You see guys go out there all the time, and they may be the best fighter ever in the gym, but they get in front of the crowd and those people and they fold. Being nervous, that even will zap your cardio. That anxiety will make you tired even. Thankfully, I've got that part down. That's the hardest part, I think."

His love for the spotlight doesn't end with occasional appearances on XFN, which can be viewed with a UFC Fight Pass subscription.

He wants to bask in the hundreds of thousands of viewers the sport's largest promotion provides. He wants to be a part of the UFC, and that dream could be realized sooner than later.

If Reeder continues winning in dominating fashion, a contract with UFC is a real possibility. He is managed by SuckerPunch Entertainment, which is one of the most respected and established athlete management companies involved in MMA.

In addition to winning, though, having an interesting personality and plenty of charisma goes a long way in landing such a lucrative deal. Reeder has those qualities as well, as can be seen on any promotional material regarding his fights on social media.

"More than anything else, the most important thing is winning," Reeder said. "And I've been doing a lot of that, and I've been doing no losing, so that's good for me. I'm on the right track. But if I had to guess, I'm anywhere from 2-4 fights away from being in the UFC if everything goes the way I plan on it. I just know that I have a good record. And if you look at a lot of the guys that are getting signed, that 7-0, 8-0 mark, anywhere from like seven to like 10-0, that puts you in a great place.

"If everything goes right — the way I think it will — I think I'll be in the UFC by the end of 2022."

Regardless of what the future holds for the young and determined fighter, he plans to keep his roots planted firmly in Claremore.

While other fighters might move to bigger cities to train in world-renowned MMA gyms, Reeder wants to be associated with his hometown.

To some of Reeder's MMA peers, his wrestling background carries a stigma of unworthiness. He is sometimes even referred to as "that wrestling kid from Claremore."

However, Reeder hopes that one day his competition recognizes him as "that world champion from Claremore."

"People are always telling me I've got to move," Reeder said. "I've got to go to a super gym somewhere in New Mexico or the East Coast or California, but a big goal of mine always was to win a world title out of Claremore, Okla. I've been to some bigger gyms and trained at some other places, and one of the biggest things that I've taken from that is these guys are telling me, 'Hey, whatever you're doing, you're doing the right thing, since you're (expletive) good, kid.' They tell me to stick with my roots and to not listen to people whenever they say I've got to go to a super gym out in a big city. They tell me, 'Hey, stick to your roots, man. You're on the right track.' So that's always been the biggest goal, to win a world title from Claremore, Okla., because everyone tells me I can't ... It's just really funny because I know how well-rounded I am. I am the best in the world on the feet. I am the best in the world on the mat. I'm the best in the world at the clinch. I am the best in the world at taking somebody down and not getting taken down. I really feel like I'm the best in the world in all areas.

"I don't do well with the whole you can't."