Youth MMA fighter brings gold back to the Valley

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Posted at 4:24 PM, Aug 25, 2022

PHOENIX — We first met Delton “Thaiphoon” Kaufmann when he was just 12 years old back in 2019.

“To become a beast, you have to train with a beast and that's what I do every day," said Kaufmann at the time.

Even at his young age, Delton was already a decorated wrestler and youth MMA fighter. Arizona USA wrestling triple crown champion and a three-time kid Pan American Champion are just a few of his accolades. Now flash forward three years and the belts keep on coming.

“You’ve got to prioritize what’s important; I know this is what, this is my career path, this is what I’m gonna do,” said Kaufmann Thursday.

The “Thaiphoon” now stands six foot two, nearly a foot more than in 2019 and his power and skills are seemingly growing just as quickly. But it may be his mental maturity now giving him his greatest weapon.

“You can’t make it without perseverance and hardworking and the dedication to something and wanting something, you got to have the want, you’ve got to have the need for it,” said Kaufmann.

That perseverance took center stage last week when Kaufmann faced off for the IMMAF World Championship in Abu Dabi. It's a tournament he’d lost the previous year, one of the few times he’d experienced any type of defeat. At the time, his mother Tanya couldn’t help but get emotional.

“The first thing I said to her is, 'why are you sad?' I wasn’t even upset about it, I was like I’m gonna go home and come back three times better. I’m gonna come back and be twice the worker I was, I’m gonna be twice the fighter I was,” said Kaufmann.

It didn’t take long for him to prove just that, submitting his final opponent this year in the first round and bringing with it a Gold Medal for Team USA. It's the second he'd won in three years and a victory that has Bellator Heavy Weight Champion Ryan Bader providing his endorsement.

“Four, five years from now, you’re definitely going to hear a lot about Delton, and the world's gonna hear about Delton,” said Bader.

“If he keeps working hard like he is right now, I can see the dream come true,” said Kaufmann’s coach Jair Gurgel.

It's a dream this youthful but heavy hitter won’t give up on without a fight.