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Steve Cofield

Away from drugs and drinking, Osterneck is ready for the UFC

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

He's not from rough streets or an impoverished background, but fighting has helped turn Nissen Osterneck's life around. The Hawaiian comes from a wealthy family and got to surf, play a lot of golf and party all the time as a teenager. He sprinkled in some jiu-jitsu training as a teen but never reallly thought about fighting as a career until he nearly killed himself drunk driving:

"I had a moment of clarity. I was driving home one night. I promised myself I wasn't going to do something that I did, and I ended up wrecking. It wasn't the first wreck I had," Osterneck told Cage Writer that he had six or seven similar wrecks. "(That was) just the one that snapped me out of it. I said 'am I waiting to kill myself or kill someone else?' I had my peace with God there and decided to take a different path in life and start doing things that were productive."

Osterneck said growing up with money in Maui, he had an air of invincibility. He even hit a telephone pole during one of his many accidents.

"Everything I do, I do to an extreme," said Osterneck. "I happened to be allergic to a substance that changes my mind. Drinking was my major downfall"

Watch Osterneck talk about cheating death (0:45 mark):

Osterneck turned things around by moving across the country to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He attended Coastal Carolina University, playing a lot of golf. He actually considered becoming a club pro before getting into real estate and developing an interest in politics. Osterneck ran for a Myrtle Beach City Council seat at age 25. He lost by 400 votes but now says it was a blessing, making him focus on one thing, mixed martial arts.

Osterneck started out his pro MMA career with five straight wins before a loss in WEC to Jake Rosholt. It was a great fight with the guys slugging it out but Osterneck says he couldn't have executed his gameplan more poorly. He blames the loss on the lack of a training camp and a long layoff because of shoulder surgery. He trained in Hawaii for this fight around B.J. Penn and Kendall Grove.

His UFC debut won't be easy. Jorge Rivera (15-7, 4-5 UFC) is a rough, tough veteran with nine UFC fights. The 37-year-old has been in the cage with the likes of Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva. Osterneck says Rivera has holes in his game and that as a jiu-jitsu brown belt he has a huge advantage on the ground. Rivera and Osterneck battle on the undercard of Ultimate Fight Night 18 in Nashville on Wednesday night.

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