It wasn’t long after Austin Liu made his first visit to a Tracy taekwondo studio that he was hooked on martial arts.
“I never knew where the sport would take me,” said Liu. “I just knew that I liked to train and I liked martial arts and I knew that I liked the lifestyle, always looking to improve, and the martial artist’s pursuit of perfection even though you know you’ll never get there.”
At the age of 22, Liu — known as “The Dynasty” in the mixed martial arts world — has a 2½-year amateur career behind him, including a 5-4 record, and today he begins his professional MMA career as part of the Combate Américas event at the Save Mart Center on the Fresno State University campus.
It’s a path Liu embarked on when he was 7 years old and his father, a black belt in taekwondo, introduced him to Tracy martial arts instructor Shannon Albracht. Liu took classes locally until he reached the sixth grade at Freiler School, and he continued to feed his passion for combat sports, taking up wrestling, boxing and kickboxing, after his family moved to Fresno, where he lives now.
Liu started his amateur career in December 2016 and won his first two bouts. Soon he would learn the lesson that losses bring a fighter back to reality.
“After a few losses, I learned that nobody is invincible in this sport. Everyone can lose on any given day,” he said. “I toned down my arrogance and turned it into confidence.”
He found the balance between respecting the abilities of his opponents and believing in his own ability to win fights.
“You have to take yourself to a different place as a person,” he said. “You have to separate yourself from your civilized version of your personality. You have to take yourself somewhere else. You have to dig deep within yourself to find the primal urge to survive.”
After his last amateur fight in August, a loss by technical knockout, he made the commitment to step up his training with an eye on the pro circuit. Since then, he has joined Team Alpha Male of Sacramento, led by Urijah Faber, and has been there for most of 2019, training with coach Jasper Tayaba.
“A lot of the guys I was training with over there are at the top of their sport in MMA, so I picked up a lot of good things from them and really feel like I became more complete as a fighter,” Liu said. “In that time, I feel like it really accelerated my growth.”
Tonight, he faces Daniel Osegura of Modesto (0-1) in the flyweight class (125 pounds) at the nine-fight Combate Américas event in the 16,000-seat Save Mart Center in Fresno. Combate Américas is a Latin American promotion that will broadcast in Spanish on Univision and stream fights online in English at DAZN.com.
“Going into this fight, all I’m going to do is go out and be me,” Liu said. “I believe in my training. I believe in my coaching staff. I believe in, basically, all of the things I’ve learned over the years, and I believe in myself, and that’s the biggest thing.”