CSU’s Michael Stack moves from The Oval to the octagon for UFC


Michael Stack poses in mixed martial arts apparel. Photo courtesy of Jordan Kurtz.

Jeremiah Janzen, Sports Reporter

For Colorado State University graduate and mixed martial artist Michael Stack, a childhood dream of becoming a professional fighter wasn’t exactly a career that could be pursued with a degree. Nevertheless, Stack’s decision to attend CSU still managed to put him on the path to pursuing his dream.

Stack currently holds a professional fighting record of six wins and one loss and fights in the 145-pound weight class for Legacy Fighting Alliance. The 27-year-old Colorado local trains and fights out of the Fort Collins gym TRIALS Mixed Martial Arts — a relationship he credits to his time at Colorado State.


“I almost didn’t (attend CSU),” Stack said. “Initially, I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I should go right into fighting and just focus on that.’ But I’m glad that I had this experience because I met a lot of good people and good friends. It ended up bringing me to my head coach here at TRIALS.”

Stack’s apprehensions about attending college were nullified upon his first visit to CSU. All it took was a tour of the campus and a delicious breakfast.

“I remember I was touring the campus, and I thought the campus was beautiful,” Stack said. “Then I had a really good breakfast burrito, and I was like, ‘This is probably the place where I’m going to go to school.’ I love CSU. I loved the experience, and I loved everything about it.”

As a freshman in high school, Stack already knew he wanted to be a professional fighter. However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year that he joined his school’s wrestling team, doing so out of both curiosity and necessity.

With his family constantly moving around the Denver area growing up, Stack often found himself as an easy target for students looking to test their fighting aptitude. The need to defend himself — combined with his father’s longtime love of combat sports — skyrocketed Stack’s interest in pursuing a fighting career.

“As far as fighting goes, I think what got me into it was mainly watching the UFC and my dad being a combat sports fan,” Stack said. “Growing up, because I bounced around to so many different schools, I was always the new kid. I was always getting tested, so I had to get into a lot of fights growing up, and that was part of it as well.”

Aside from TRIALS, Stack has also spent time training at world-renowned gyms such as Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand, Roufusport Mixed Martial Arts Academy in Wisconsin and Syndicate Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas, to name a few. Although traveling worldwide to train is appealing to many fighters, Colorado has become known as a mecca of mixed martial arts training.

“Colorado’s one of the hubs in the world for good fighters,” Stack said. “Right now, I’m training at TRIALS and (Easton Training Center), which is where Trevor (Wittman) and Justin (Gaethje) and those guys train at. I also train at Pound 4 Pound (Fitness) with Justin Houghton. I’ve been to TopNotch (Sports Academy) in Greeley, Prodigy (House Muay Thai) in Loveland and Catalyst (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy) in Windsor, (Colorado). I go all over the state to train.”

“My coach encourages cross-training,” Stack said. “He’s a great coach, and he looks at the sport as though everybody has something to offer.”


After compiling an undefeated amateur fighting record and starting his professional career off by winning his first four fights, Stack eventually faced the first adversity of his fighting career. His first and only loss to date came at the hands of Kai Kamaka III, a fighter who went on to compete in the world’s premier fighting organization: the UFC.

“I think after that loss is when I really started going to other gyms to seek out new and more knowledge for the sport and just getting as many looks as I possibly could,” Stack said. “If I had won that fight, I probably would’ve already been in the UFC. (Kamaka) went into the UFC right after that fight.”

Despite the minor setback from his lone professional loss, all of the experience Stack has gathered during his career both in Colorado and elsewhere has paid off mightily for the young fighter. Stack recognizes that the loss to Kamaka ultimately turned out to be good for his career, as he is currently knocking on the door of a UFC opportunity — an opportunity he feels he is more prepared for now than ever before.

“(Losing) was a good thing, I think, for the longevity of my career because you only get so many losses in the UFC before you get cut,” Stack said. “You don’t want to lose in the big show, and if there was a time to lose a fight, it was before I made it to the big show.”

Since the loss to Kamaka, Stack has rebuilt his momentum by stacking up consecutive wins in his most recent outings. These include a knockout victory over Jordan Mapa in January 2021 and his most recent victory as a unanimous decision Oct. 22, 2021, against Jackson Filho.

“Now I’m more prepared and more capable of making a big impact in the UFC, whereas back then, I think I was at the level of where I should’ve been to get into the UFC but maybe not at that level of maintaining and competing with the highest competition in the UFC,” Stack said. “But now I’m ready to take that step forward. My goal is to get in there, make some noise and go undefeated.”

For any aspiring fighters at Colorado State or elsewhere, Stack believes that — like anything in life — your success will be defined by a combination of both your passion for the sport and the people you surround yourself with.

“If you want to be a fighter, definitely get into a gym that has a high level of competition and good coaching,” Stack said. “You need to be getting those good, hard rounds in where maybe you aren’t winning every single time.”

“You have to be disciplined, you have to be in the gym putting in the work and you gotta really love the sport,” Stack said. “Taking those ass beatings and coming home bumped and bruised and not feeling the best … you just can’t do it unless you love the sport.”

Keep up with the latest news and information regarding Stack on Twitter @MichaelStackmma or on Instagram @michaelstack_mma.

Reach Jeremiah Janzen at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @JeremiahJanzen.