Three times a week, Nick Fiore flies in a plane. In the cockpit. In the pilot's seat. He's 20 years old.
He takes off from and lands at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, "so watch out when you're driving on [Route] 110," he said.
Fiore, a junior at Farmingdale State focusing on aviation, took flight on another career path Thursday night -- mixed martial arts. Fiore submitted Antonio Quinones via a guillotine choke in the second round of their lightweight bout at the MMA Platinum Gloves amateur tournament.
The walkout from the back room to the grand ballroom at the Upsky Hotel in Hauppauge was short. The ceiling hovered just a few feet above the top of the six-sided cage. Certain moves -- elbows, punches to the face of a grounded opponent, ankle locks -- were forbidden. Otherwise, it wasn't much different from his high school wrestling matches at Kellenberg, Fiore said.
Still, it was an athletic competition in which the opponent attempts to exert his physicality over Fiore. That's far different from sitting in a classroom learning how to gauge instruments to help navigate a plane through a cloud.
"You get nervous before the match," Fiore said. "Everybody gets nervous. You just have to block it out and stay calm."
Fiore, who lives in Hicksville and trains at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy with Marc Lehr and Keith Trimble, controlled much of the fight. He had several submission attempts and landed a hard takedown at the end of the first round.
"He did exactly what he was supposed to do, moving forward, being the aggressor," Lehr said. "He's smart, he's tough as nails, doesn't say much. In fact, this is the most I've seen him talk."
Fiore said he started training at Bellmore Kickboxing around the summer of 2011. He had recovered from a knee injury the year prior, he said, and was looking for an athletic endeavor to test his knee.
"It was a natural thing just to keep grappling," said Fiore, who also played football for Kellenberg. "I love wrestling. There was just nothing else to do. I started looking into jiujitsu, some other schools."
The tournament, which is sanctioned by the UMMAF, continues Nov. 16 with the semifinals in multiple weight classes at St. Joseph's College in Patchogue.
Amateur MMA is legal but unregulated and unsanctioned in the state. New York remains the only state in the United States with a ban on professional MMA.