LINCOLN – June 17, 2011 is one of the most memorable days of Kody Nordby’s life, and it’s not just because that was the day he graduated from Woonsocket High.
Rather, it’s what happened immediately after he received his diploma. Nordby hustled to the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Mass. to make his amateur debut against Mark Johnson of Brighton, Mass. at the AFO’s (American Fighting Organization) Summer Brawl II.
“Literally, I grabbed my diploma, jumped off the stage, and ran through the doors,” said Nordby with a smile. “I got (to the fight) in time, and I finished off (Johnson) in the first round with a rear-naked choke.”
That triumph kicked off a string of impressive victories for the flyweight prospect, who zipped through a 4-0 record in six months as an amateur and then claimed his first three fights as a pro – all submission victories via rear-naked chokes.
Unfortunately for the 20-year-old Nordby, he suffered his first defeat on Friday night in his first-ever MMA fight in Rhode Island – on the undercard of Classic Entertainment & Sports, Inc.’s “Path to Destruction” show at the Twin River Event Center.
Nordby was the victim of a first-round submission loss to another prospect, Jimmy Grant (4-1) of Carlstadt, N.J., who mounted a D’Arce choke on him to record a 79-second win. But Nordby, who recently signed a two-fight contract with CES, will get another chance to redeem himself in his “backyard” on the next MMA show at Twin River in August.
Losses have been few and far between for Nordby, who has three brothers, the youngest being current Cumberland High wrestling standout Kris Nordby. Kody also put together an exceptional wrestling career with the Novans that saw him earn multiple All-Division honors.
It was during this time that he got indirectly introduced to mixed martial arts through his current manager and coach, Josh Raymond, during a stop at the Elite MMA compound in Pawtucket (that eventually moved to Lincoln).
“Josh called me, asking me for help with some wrestling,” added Nordby. “I came down one day and wrestled with him and he said, ‘Hey, you can come down here whenever you want – wrestle, box, get some exercise in.’ So we boxed and this guy damn near knocked me out.
“I wasn’t used to getting beat, so I went back, and he beat me up again. And I kept going back and I just stuck with it.”
After Nordby made his amateur debut in Mansfield, he quickly jumped back into action on the AFO’s next show in Revere, Mass. and cruised to an unanimous-decision triumph over Billy Giovanella of Bellingham, who sported a 4-1 amateur record at the time.
Two months later, Nordby was again an unanimous-decision winner in Revere, this time over Matt Doherty of Salem, Mass. on the AFO’s “Perfect Storm” card, and he finished 2011 in style in Mansfield on the AFO’s “Thanksgiving Massacre IV” event on Nov. 24 with a first-round submission (via an armbar) of Rockland, Mass.’s Jared Sarno.
After that victory, Nordby decided to turn pro, and he didn’t wait long to make his debut. Less than two months later, he was back in Mansfield, battling Theo Desjardins of nearby North Attleboro, Mass. in front of a pro-Desjardins crowd, and in a time of 1:56, he put Desjardins away with a rear-naked choke.
Instead of riding the momentum from that victory and jumping into another fight, Nordby shifted gears and made another career move, but this time, he went away to basic training for the U.S. Army.
“I got the training I needed from the military for my future job as a lineman working for National Grid,” explained Nordby. “I was away for six months, and when I came back, I was right away looking for a fight.”
Nordby didn’t hard to look hard, because on Jan. 5, he was on Reality Fighting’s “New Year’s Bash” card before a large crowd at the Mohegan Sun Arena, fighting Cranston’s Dan Cormier in a battle for intrastate bragging rights. Nordby showed no signs of cage rust and forced Cormier to tap out 3:31 into the second round.
Before Friday night’s fight, Nordby’s last appearance in the cage was on Feb. 16 on the AFO’s “New Dawn” show in Boxborough, Mass. Fighting another undefeated prospect, Andy Aiello of Bridgewater, Mass. in the main event, Nordby forced his opponent to tap out 3:19 into the fight.
After his upcoming August fight, Nordby isn’t sure what the next step in his MMA career will be, but for now, he says he will be hard at work sharpening his skills with Raymond at the Allaire MMA compound on Cumberland Hill Road in Woonsocket.
“My standup and ground game still needs works,” Nordby offered. “I’m not perfect, and nobody is. There’s always something I could be working on.”