Walk into a college classroom and you will find it hard differentiating one undergraduate from another. When it comes to 5-foot 6-inch Josh Rettinghouse, pinpointing the mixed marital artist in a room full of accounting students is even harder.
Rettinghouse is balancing work and school schedules with his goal of making it in MMA. After compiling a 9-2 record with various promotions, Rettinghouse received a career-changing call last fall while in class at Eastern Washington University.
“My manager said he just got off the phone with (World Series of Fighting Vice President Ali Abdel-Aziz) and they were offering me the fight. It was mine if I wanted it,” Rettinghouse said. “Initially I hesitated a little bit because I wanted to talk to my coaches. But then I said ‘don’t even worry about it, send me the contract.’ I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity like this.”
The 24-year-old won his promotional debut by defeated Alexis Vila at last October’s WSOF 6. It was the biggest victory of Rettinghouse’s young career and pushed him to focus more on training. The change may pay off this Saturday when he fights Marlon Moraes for WSOF’s inaugural bantamweight championship.
Moares is unlike any opponent Rettinghouse has faced. He’s one of the top bantamweights in the world and carries a six-match winning streak into their WSOF 9 co-main event. Regardless, the intrepid fighter believes he is ready for whatever may come.
“He’s got some pretty good kickboxing. That’s his mainstay and what he probably wants to do,” he said. “At a level like this you really have to be prepared for anything. When you start anticipating anything is when you’re going to get caught with something.”
Rettinghouse splits time between Warrior Camp MMA and Toyama Karate-Do Spokane, the latter being his home base. He’s mainly focused on kickboxing for the Moares fight but won’t stray from the ground game that has him one step away from a title.
“When I started wrestling I was infatuated with winning a state championship. I never got that so now I’m getting a little bit of redemption and pulling for a world title. Fighting a guy like Marlon and fighting on NBC Sports on a co-main event, to me, is a bigger note. The belt’s awesome but at the end of the day I’m looking for a win over a top-ranked opponent.”
The Washington-native has come a long way in five years. In 2009, a friend invited him to watch some cage fights at a gym. Rettinghouse joined the gym that day, fought two weeks later, and hasn’t looked back since. After winning his professional debut in May 2011, Rettinghouse won six of the next eight matches. He carries a three-fight win streak into WSOF 9 that includes victories over Vila, Jeff Hatton, and Zach Skinner.
Nicknamed “The Finisher,” Rettinghouse has a niche for ending fights via submission. Half of his victories have come by choking an opponent; whether it is by rear-naked, arm-triangle, side, or guillotine.
All of this from a guy with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting.
“I don’t know if I actually be in accounting or in a firm, but it’s kind of nice to have that behind my name. Just be able to help my own finances.” Rettinghouse is CPA eligible but needs one class to obtain a financial degree. With his expertise, he plans on open a business in the future.
Until then Rettinghouse’s MMA dream is real. From Intense Cage Sports to King of the Cage to his current stint with WSOF, “The Finisher” has earned his nickname, and Saturday he may prove why.
“The goal was always to get to the UFC and win a title. It’s kind of changed now, the landscapes a little difference from when I started, and if that doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen,” he said. “I want to fight, get exposure, make money, and stay marketable. That’s the main goal.”