Meet Keith Miner: Set to Become the first amputee to fight inside the Bellator Cage

| May 24, 2013 | 1:59 pm | Reply

Keith MinerAsk an MMA fan who Keith Miner is and they will likely shrug their shoulders. Explain to them he is an MMA fighter who also happens to be an amputee and they’ll likely mistake him for Nick Newell. Keith Miner is also an amputee turned Mixed Martial Artist, who will be fighting on the June 19th Bellator MMA undercard and in doing so will become the first amputee to fight for the promotion.

Keith Miner is a former member of the Army National Guard and current Mixed Martial Artist, who in a tragic accident became an amputee back in 2000. Miner was not a fighter prior to the accident, yet roughly eight years later he would pick up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a few months after that made his professional MMA debut on October 4th, 2008.

The story of Keith Miner is inspirational, yet after reading his bio and doing an interview there is also warmth there as well. The questions and answers below were originally going to be used for an article about Keith Miner becoming the first amputee to fight inside the Bellator MMA cage. After conducting the interview and reading the answers you will soon read I felt it would be doing the interview an injustice. Miner talks openly about his accident, his life after the accident, his MMA debut and the difficulties of finding someone willing to fight a one-armed man.

First off for those that do not know your story, how did you become an amputee?

On May 8, 2000 I was working a summer job before starting college. I worked for a company that cleared the power lines of trees, which involved chain saws and industrial wood chippers among other equipment. We were working on a very steep hill and were working downwards on the hill. I was feeding the chipper (which has two large rollers with teeth that pull the branches/logs to the blades) when a co-worker made a mistake. He decided to move the truck that the chipper was in tow to without telling myself or another co-worker. I was in the middle of feeding the chipper when it moved and it yanked me forward and due to the steepness of the hill fell forward onto the chute of the chipper. The chute is very smooth and before I knew it the rollers had my right hand. The rollers continued to pull my right hand forward toward the blades crushing it and then cutting it. The rollers would toss me like a rag doll while I tried to fight and pull out. I was saved by another co-worker who was nearly hit by the chipper when it was moved unknowingly. He couldn’t see me and ran back and hit the reverse bar on the outside of the chipper. This released the grip the rollers had on me and I was out of harm’s way, though without my right arm, wrist and part of my forearm. A walk up the hill, a visit to the ER room, a life flight and two surgeries later and I was home in 4 days.

Prior to the unfortunate accident that took your right hand, were you right-handed?

Yes I was right-handed. I have had to relearn how to write, eat, tie my shoes, button my shirt, play sports, etc. I never thought I would be capable of doing these things after my accident. I am truly blessed.

How did you handle that not only as a fighter but in general?

It was hard. I was a cocky, selfish teenager. Thought the world was mine and it was blessed to have me. Boy was I wrong; it humbled me and started a change on how I perceived things. I think most people who face major adversity or near death experiences will tell you it changed them forever. For me it did that, it allowed me to find out what life is really about. Who am I? What am I made of? How can I help? It’s been 13 yrs since my accident and it’s been baby steps to get to this point but God allowed my hand to be taken that day but he filled me with a Fire for life and to find out what and who I am.

When did get into Martial Arts and MMA?

April 2, 2008. Started with BJJ just to stay in shape and be competing again. I was scared and really didn’t think it would work out.

Why did you decide to pursue being a professional Mixed Martial Artist?

Well after sticking with it and getting submitted a lot something weird happened. I started not getting submitted a lot and started having a lot of success in the gym. Which lead to visiting the MMA classes at the gym and somehow working hard enough to do well there to. From there I did a few BJJ tourneys and had success, which lead to the desire and the push for me to try a fight. Which lead down the path of many Ammy events not wanting to touch me due to being an amputee. I was about to just say forget about it when FreeStyle Cage Fighting out of Oklahoma said they would give me a chance and let me fight, but only if I would go straight pro. I appreciate them for that. 6 months into training I was fighting professionally.

You made your professional MMA debut in October of 2008. Though you lost the fight, it had to have been a major accomplishment for you. How did you feel?

I fought a tough guy in Clayton Robinson and am thankful for him stepping up and looking past the loss of a hand. After the fight the feeling was overwhelming to be honest. I tried to hold back the tears that night in front of everyone but couldn’t. Which was a bit embarrassing, but only because no one there knew the journey I had taken to get there. To go thru the pain I went thru on May 8, 2000 to be fighting professionally and being competitive to everything in between was an emotional breakdown for me. It was the first time I had ever thought about it or been able to think about what I had overcome even when I was one of the people who thought I wouldn’t ever throw ball again or write left-handed. I was blown away what God had just done thru me. A truly humbling experience!

Looking over your fights you’ve bounced around from promotion to promotion. As an amputee how hard has it been to get a fight?

It’s extremely hard. Between promotions and opponents I believe I probably have had more fights fall thru then just about any professional MMA fighter. It’s a Damned if you do/Damned if you don’t situation with me. My opponents beat a guy with one hand then it’s just a guy with one hand, but lose to a guy with one hand and its haha you lost to a guy with one hand. I have seen it in guys at BJJ tourneys that I have beaten. Not shaking my hand, storming off the mats, challenging me to a fight on the mats, etc. Most of my 9 pro fights are on short notice and usually versus very tough opponents, which can be a dumb mistake on my part. My last fight was on 3 days notice, and the one before that was on 9 days notice, but when you don’t get a lot of opportunities it’s easy to be pulled in by the competitiveness of it and make some not so smart decisions.

You’re fighting on the Bellator MMA June 19th undercard against Damon Jackson. How did that fight come about and what does it mean to you?

Bellator actually contacted a friend/teammate of mine about me and it snowballed into a fight. My teammate called me and said you are fighting June 19 for Bellator. I thought he was kidding and he told me he already told them I was a go and they were sending a contract. Well long story short he wasn’t kidding. I am very excited for this opportunity and am excited about a tough opponent in Damon Jackson. I am excited I get to fight under such a respected promotion like Bellator and that they are giving me an opportunity as an amputee. I believe as the first amputee ever to fight pro MMA I can help other amputees, such as soldiers coming back from war that have lost a limb to know that life can go on and the impossible can be made real! I am in a blessed situation and hope that Win or Lose I will be able to help someone. People go thru things everyday and if I can light a spark under at least one person’s butt that you must Press On, then it will all be worth it.

The Bellator undercards are streamed live on the internet, so for fighters new to Keith Miner what can they expect to see from you on June 19th?

Heart! I will go out there and fight my heart off for the fans. I will leave it in there for them and be thankful for the opportunity that has been given to me. I hope that when they leave that night they will be a bit inspired. Other than that they will just see a tall handsome one-handed guy throwing HAND and putting it all out there for a W!

I do want to bring up Nick Newell, who for good reason gets a lot of attention for being an amputee in MMA. Have you ever had the chance to meet or talk to him?

I have not met Nick but often am asked about him by people. Ironically before Nick got all this attention Reality Fighting tried setting up a fight between the two of us. They called me and emailed me and I accepted. They said they had a guy like me(amputee) having a hard time getting fights and figured it would be a good matchup. I accepted and a day or two later Nick and his camp were not interested anymore. I never got a straight answer of what happened. I have tried to reach out to him twice on twitter but he wants nothing to do with me. I asked him how he gets the commissions to not allow him to wear a glove as I have had to wear a glove for every state commission but he never responded. We were interviewed by the same person once for an article and the guy told me he brought my name up to Nick and he wasn’t interested in discussing me. Not sure why that is. He is a great athlete and a tough guy. Wish him the best in his career.

Thank you for the time and please feel free to list and shout outs you like.

Thanks Joshua/MMA Valor for the time and opportunity to share my story. I thank God for this opportunity and thank my beautiful wife and three kids for keeping me motivated to get ready for this fight. Thanks to all the gyms and teammates that push me to get better. Thanks to my agent Gerald Grube and MVC Sports.

You can watch Keith Miner fight on the Bellator MMA undercard on June 19th on Make sure to follow him on Twitter @KeithMinerMMA and check out his website as well.

Picture taken from the Keith Miner Website

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Category: Bellator, Exclusive, Featured, Interview, MMA

About the Author ()

My brain child is MMAValor, something I had wanted to do for a long time and finally it’s here. Been an MMA fan since TUF season one (play catch up all the time) and the obsession started to grow like a weed and as the sport grows so does the love for the sport. I’m a jack of all trades, a very organized person that rides an emotional roller coaster daily.

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