San Diego, CA (PressExposure) June 03, 2009 -- San Diego MMA Fighter "G.I. Joe" Duarte, a former U.S. Army Ranger, is quickly rising in the MMA World, leaving one battlefield to fight in another.
Training at The Arena in San Diego (http://www.thearenamma.com) alongside MMA stars such as Diego Sanchez, Duarte is rapidly becoming a local favorite, having packed a lot of action into his young life.
Duarte was born and raised on Guam, a small island of 200,000 people in the South Pacific. A born athlete, he was a high school Wrestler, Football and Soccer Player. But it wasnât until his sophomore year of high school that he discovered his true athletic passion, fighting. Training MMA on Guam from the age of 16 to 19, he left in January 2002 with $500 and a one-way plane ticket to Texas to further his career.
Once he arrived, he trained with high-level professionals and showed strong promise. However, shortly after his arrival, Duarte was recruited to join the U.S. Army. Deciding duty to country was more important than individual desires, Duarte enlisted and left for Ft. Benning Georgia in May 2002. Upon his arrival, he met another athlete who had also decided to postpone his athletic dreams in favor of duty, Pat Tillman, the NFL player who turned down a $3 million contract with the Phoenix Cardinals to serve his country. Tillman was tragically killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.
Duarte and Tillman went through Basic, Airborne, and Ranger training together, where they earned the right to be called Rangers in December 2002. From February 2003 up until January 2006, Duarte served several tours in the Middle East, operating in both Iraq and Afghanistan. After returning to the U.S., Duarte trained with the All-Army Boxing Team and decided to return to his plans of becoming a professional MMA fighter when his Army contract was completed in May 2006.
After leaving the Army, Duarte moved to San Diego to train MMA. He quickly turned Pro in September 2006 and after 3 fights, was discovered by the UFC. They then invited him to become a member of The Ultimate Fighter show in 2008. Returning to San Diego after The Ultimate Fighter taping, Duarte resumed his professional career, winning again in October of 2008. With 4 wins and no losses on his professional record, he was set to fight again the next month. Tragically, he was informed 15 minutes before his fight that his father had just passed away. No stranger to loss, he decided to soldier on and fight anyway.
After his fight, he immediately flew to Guam to help his family. Upon his return to San Diego in March 2009, Duarte joined The Arena, a MMA gym with a Pro Fight Team in San Diego. Upon joining The Arena Team, Joe quickly signed a three-fight deal with War Gods, a MMA Fight League.
Although fighting in the MMA arena is a big change from fighting alongside his comrades in the Army Rangers, Duarte looks at his opponents in the MMA world as more enemies to conquer as Duarte continues his quest to be all he can be.