Near the conclusion of a recent interview with Safety Harbor salon owner Debbie Eckerdt, Patch asked her what is one thing she would most like people to know about, referring to her business.
She replied the fact that her son just signed a professional mixed martial arts fighting contract.
Indeed, Patch learned that David Mundell, a former East Lake High football player who picked up wrestling during his senior year and who now trains in Clearwater, has signed a contact to appear in three Real Fighting Championship fights next year.
The deal means he’s one win away from potentially reaching the big time with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
“David went into wrestling in his senior year, and he really liked it,” Eckerdt said from her Main Street shop in Safety Harbor. “When he saw he was good at it, he kept doing it after he graduated.”
“I love the competitiveness, the fact that it’s a one-on-one sport,” the 21-year-old Mundell said. “That way I don’t have to rely on anyone except my coaches to succeed.”
So how did a kid from Oldsmar who went to East Lake, lived in Dunedin and trains in Clearwater make it to the threshold of MMA stardom?
Hard work and a no-quit attitude, according to the quiet champion’s coach.
“David’s come a long way in a short period of time,” Tim Hartranft, David’s coach since the pair met during a training session three years ago, said of his student.
“He trains six days a week, an hour and a half a day,” Hartranft’s wife, Liz, added. “He’s very dedicated. And he’s humble. David’s very supportive of his fellow fighters and thankful for his family’s support.”
Hartranft, who operates Clearwater MMA out of the Sports Club 24 near the intersection of U.S. 19 and East Bay Drive, said Mundell, who owns a 6-1 record, began to get noticed three fights ago on a card in Tampa.
Following a recent title fight in Hudson, after Mundell got the reigning champion to submit in the third round, he was offered a three-fight deal with the RFC, a contract he gladly singed last week.
“I’m excited, I want to get as many pro fights under my belt as I can,” he said during a break in training. “I want to do this all the time and not have to work.”
Liz Hartranft said that if David were to score another big win in an RFC bout, he has a great chance to make it to the top level of the sport.
“His goal is to be in UFC or Bellator, the top tier of MMA. This is his stepping stone to getting there.”
So what does his mother think of her son’s sudden success?
“David has been a strong-willed child since kindergarten,” Debbie Eckerd said. “So I’m not surprised at all this has happened.”
“He's very determined. When he sets his mind on something, he accomplishes it.”
David has one championship fight left to fight in January before his first RFC bout in February. Follow David's schedule and keep track of his career here.