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Small stars: Meet 11-year-old MMA phenom Joseph Bowers Jr., AKA JJ Swat

Posted at 2:35 PM, Jan 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-14 16:35:38-05

It's time for Small Stars! This week, we headed to the matt to introduce you to a young man who's making a name for himself across the southwest -- and could one day end up at the top of his sport.

Meet 11-year-old Mesa resident Joseph Bowers Jr., a rising star in the sport of Brazilian Jui Jitsu.

Joseph has a long list of awards in the sport, from four-time Arizona state champion and state championships in California and Nevada, to three-time international champion, Pan-American champion, and more. 

He even has his own clothing line -- which, he's pretty proud to say, is doing quite well.

"People come in and they look at the clothes because there's a lot of them there. I'm proud to have it as a clothes line," he said.

But his passion these days is mixed martial arts, and he's training with one of the best -- Javier "Chunty Boy" Torres.

As with all big stars, having a stage name is critical to success and popularity. So, Joseph is now going by his alter ego: J.J. Swat, after his favorite football player, Texans star J.J. Watt.

The even better news is, this sixth-grader is a straight-A student -- and he tells me he's never been hurt doing MMA.

In fact, the sport has plenty of regulations about protective equipment and where you can and cannot strike a blow.

"Head gear, a cup, a mouth guard, and shin pads for safety. They won't let you hit the head," Joseph said. "If you hit the head, you get a point deducted from you and you might even get disqualified if you do it more than once."

J.J. Swat has a big fight coming up -- and believe me, he's well prepared for the challenge.

"My goal is to submit the guy I'm going against, and get my reputation back," he said.

Congratulations, Joseph Bowers Jr., AKA J.J. Swat: You're this week's Small Star!