UFC Fighters Help Aspiring Model and MMA Photographer Realize His Dreams

Damon MartinContributor IAugust 12, 2013

photo by Silton Buendia
photo by Silton Buendia

If you've been on Twitter lately and follow fighters like Chael Sonnen, Rashad Evans or Vitor Belfort, you may have noticed a common theme among them: They are all supporting a young, up-and-coming model named Urtreen White.

Several notable UFC fighters have been stirring up the campaign to like and share White's Facebook page to help him land a modeling contract over the last week or two.

Now, it's not uncommon for the fight community to rally around a common cause. It's one of the things that makes the MMA world, no matter how big it gets, still feel like a close-knit family that always looks out for its own.

But why was this particular kid of interest to so many fighters?

Well, Urtreen White has a foot in the door of the MMA industry because he sort of fell backwards into the fight world after he had to give up his own athletic pursuits. White may be currently vying for a chance to win a modeling contract, but his story goes much deeper than just attempting to get his name known for a contest.

Growing up as an athlete himself, White dreamed of competing on the biggest stages and had the body of work to take it to the next level in college, but he passed up on his own dreams to ensure that his family was taken care of now.

"I did a lot of things in track and field, like the high jump. I did football, and I got a scholarship for track and field to Cal State Poly, but I actually had to turn away from that because I was helping my family and I had to work," White said. "My family is everything, they come first no matter what."

So instead of going after his own athletic endeavors, White kept working a full-time job to help support his family. But instead of wallowing in the situation, White instead turned back to something his father taught him growing up to find focus.

Martial arts was something that White found beneficial from an early age, and his father instilled those values in him from the very moment he learned to walk. White never stopped studying, and while he never plans on fighting himself, he's no different than many writers, radio hosts or journalists who just love the sport of MMA and want to be a part of it.

So instead of strapping on the gloves, White picked up a camera and soon found he had quite the eye for MMA photography.  It started out as a hobby, but now with several MMA shows under his belt, White is discovering that a whole new world has opened up to him.

"I like it, it's really grown on me," White said. "I think I'll always be a photographer, and I'll always be a competitor. It's really opened where I'm going to go next, but fighting is huge so I definitely want to continue shooting at some of the events. I shot at Lion Fights and at RFA (Resurrection Fighting Alliance), so that's really sparked my interest."

In a rare treat, White will get to travel to the UFC offices later this month for a photo shoot as well. While he couldn't talk about specifics, he will have access not often granted for photographers, as he is allowed to shoot inside the UFC headquarters in Las Vegas.

"This month I'm going to go to the UFC headquarters for a shoot," White stated. "I can't really speak on the specifics, like what exactly I'm doing there, but I'm so excited. I cannot wait to do that."

Seeing White put in the hard work to find success is what inspired fighters like Evans to get involved in the first place.

"He's a good kid who's talented and working hard to kick start his career and it's great to see the fight community helping one of its own," Evans told Bleacher Report.  "MMA is really powerful in social media, so I think having this support is huge for him."

Certainly it's a connect-the-dots-type pattern to find White's involvement in the MMA industry, but he appreciates the support as he tries to find a home in a modeling career as well as his photography to provide for his family and a brand-new dream that he can pursue.

"I'm so grateful to the fight community and all their support. They're awesome," White commented. "I'm so excited, and I know MMA is huge in social media and so having them support me is completely awesome."