San Luis Obispo MMA fighter goes professional

May 15, 2024

Steven Sainsbury


San Luis Obispo Mixed Martial Arts fighter Steven Sainsbury is competing in his first professional MMA bout in Long Beach on May 18.

The 31-year-old San Luis Obispo native is slated to participate in a “Lights Out Extreme Fighting” event. Through this organization, former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman promotes the next wave of notable fighters as they pursue their dreams of becoming pro-athletes.

For the past nine years, Sainsbury has trained with hopes of fighting professionally. He is currently training at 7,000 feet in Colorado, sprinting and running alongside professional fighters.

“I like to seek out really good, high-level competitors,” Sainsbury said. “I go to tough gyms. I challenge myself, and I get better when I’m uncomfortable.”

Interested in martial arts as a child, Sainsbury played basketball at San Luis Obispo High School.

That was before he met a neighbor while attending junior college in Chico. The neighbor was training in martial arts in his garage, and Sainsbury discovered a world of underground boxing events that took place in the basements of neighboring houses.

“My neighbor, he saw something in me because without my knowledge, he signed me up for a tournament,” Sainsbury said. “It was my first fight, and we weren’t evenly matched. I was a lot taller than my opponent, and he was 25 lbs heavier than me. After he pounded on me for the first two rounds, I knocked him out in the third.” Since then, Sainsbury has competed in numerous events.

After his second fight, Sainsbury contracted a life-threatening MRSA infection which resulted in years of surgery. At one point, he had a high probability of losing his hand, however, he never quit training.

For the past three years, Sainsbury has been going to Mexico and training at different fight camps. Most recently, he competed in a semi-professional bout for the promotion Noches de Peleas, which he was able to win in 45 seconds.

“It’s been a long road, and even when I couldn’t compete due to health complications, I never stopped training knowing that one day I’d compete professionally,” Sainsbury said.

Watch Sainsbury compete at 5 p.m. on May 18 on Lights Out Sports.


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Is this Dr. Sainsbury’s son?

Congratulations and best wishes to you!

Good for Steven! MRSA is no joke and often an issue for sports with mats. Glad he overcame it. My son has fought a couple of fights with Lights Out, great venue, well ran. Best of luck on Saturday!