Whatcom County's mixed martial arts scene has a few up-and-coming athletes making some noise.
But the successes are in more than just their fights.
Nate Haynes is one of the success stories for Bellingham Mixed Martial Arts.
Haynes has lost about 40 pounds since joining Bellingham MMA. He moved from North Dakota a little more than a year ago and has trained intensely after meeting a few of the guys from the gym.
Haynes' coach, Jeremy Saunders, described him as the typical out-of-shape "couch potato." After training for five months, Haynes fought his first match and now has a 2-1 record.
"Now Nate works really hard and is committed," Saunders said in a phone interview. "He didn't really change his diet, he just works out."
Haynes began his interest in MMA after a few of his friends started a training facility and decided to try it out. He said he wasn't heavily involved with it until he moved to Bellingham. He now trains Monday through Thursday for three hours and Fridays if he can.
"I was really lazy and decided I needed to do something," Haynes said in a phone interview. "I needed to get more active."
Drew Oetgen, Lyndon Hirai and Tyler Thompson are a few of the other athletes making an impact both outside of their matches and in them.
Haynes said Thompson is finishing his physical therapy degree and Hirai is an economics major at Western Washington University.
"A lot of people think people in MMA are a bunch of lunkheads," Saunders said. "But all four of these guys are well educated and super bright guys. They just happen to also like fighting."
Saunders said Thompson is 3-0 and could easily be the state title holder for Washington. He also helps teach at the gym with Oetgen.
Hirai is 4-1 and his only loss is to the current state title holder. Saunders said he was winning that match but lost in the final minute after being choked out.
Oetgen, who is 3-1, graduated from Squalicum High School and attended the University of Washington before transferring back to Western Washington University. Haynes said he started training about a year and a half ago and had never done any type of fighting before.
"Drew is one of the first guys I met," Haynes said. "He is a really cool guy and doesn't have a big head. He is a great sparring partner, too."
Saunders said Haynes and Oetgen are set on the schedule to have a match in January with opponents and dates still to be determined.