ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–One of the fastest rising MMA fighters in the world is right here in Rockford. He has the championship hardware to prove it. 

Yep, there’s now a world champion MMA fighter walking the halls of Auburn High School. He’s physical education teacher and assistant wrestling coach Lawrence Phillips.

When he’s not at the school, Phillips is at DeLaRosa Submission Academy in Roscoe training. He’s only been serious about MMA fighting since last February, but he’s a fast learner.

He’s started his amateur career with a 7-0 record, winning all seven fights in the first round. His latest win came Saturday in Amsterdam in the Global Association of Mixed Martial Arts World Championships. In the championship match he took down his opponent from Latvia and quickly ended the match.

“He was hurt, and I went after him, and I took him down to the ground, ground-and-pounded him,” said Phillips. The ref stopped, referee stoppage.”

Phillips previously won state championship belts in Virginia and Minnesota in the heaviest weight division. He packs 265 pounds on his 6’3 frame.

So what will winning a world championship do for his career?

“I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Training hard. Finding more opponents. I probably won’t do too many more amateur bouts. We’re really looking at the pro scene now.”

Some big-time operations have already taken notice of Phillips.

“I had a couple big management teams hit me up, Paradigm and First Round Management looking at me. You guys can look it up. They’ve signed Conor McGregor, Derrick Lewis. Big names like that.”

While Phillips has only been serious about MMA fighting for a little over a year, the foundation for this MMA success was laid when he was a wrestler at Auburn and then in college at Division II St. Cloud State where he was part of a national championship team.

Phillips credits his coaches and his support team at DeLaRosa for taking him to a championship level.

“My team 100 percent.  All my teammates, my coaches, you know we all bring something different to the table.”

Phillips is one busy guy teaching, coaching, training and fighting. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I don’t run away from hard work.”  “I love my city. I love my fans, coaches, Jesus Christ. All the support is great man. You know that’s really the best feeling.”

And this might just be the start of it all for Phillips. For another look at this story and a list of Phillips’ sponsors go to our website

NOTE: Phillips would like to acknowledge and thank his sponsors: Jeremy Cuttill, DeLaRosa Submission Wrestling Academy, XL Contracting, See Me for Me App, LeguhC Tatz, Tattoos by Moose, Relentless Nutrition, Elevated Roofing, Joe G’s CBD, Brent’s Barbershop, Kampf Theis Illustration & Design