Bristol Marunde loves climbing into a cage for knock-down, drag-out no-holds-barred fights. His job is being a tough guy and he’s very good at it.
He’s a successful Mixed Martial Arts fighter — in fact he’s currently the Superior Cage Combat (SCC) Middleweight Champion.
But he has a softer side, too, including a continuing connection to Sequim.
Marunde, born in Fairbanks, Alaska, graduated from Sequim High School in 2000.
These days Marunde and his wife, Aubrey, and their son, Kale, live in Las Vegas, Nev., but they have a second home in Sequim. His mom and dad, Chuck and Gigi Marunde, still call Sequim home.
“I love the area and I always want to have ties there — to be connected there.”
Bristol grew up one of three fine athletes in the family. His older brother Jesse was a professional strongman who was at one time the second strongest man in the world, a title he picked up in 2005 in a World Strongman Competition held in China. Jesse died in 2007 from a heart condition.
Bristol’s younger brother, Brady, played professional basketball in Europe.
Before graduating from Sequim High in 2000, Bristol was named all-conference in football and placed in the state wrestling competition.
His freshman year of college at Montana State he was a walk-on for the football team and continued his wrestling career at a local community college.
Eventually, Bristol said, he “settled down” and earned a history degree at Washington State University.
A little background
Marunde completed his college studies, but he wasn’t done with athletics.
While at Wazoo, Marunde started competing in local “mixed martial arts” (MMA) events. He was soon hooked on what he describes as the intense athletic competition that he found when he enters the cage.
Before his first fight, he didn’t know exactly what to expect. He’d never before seen a bout. “My trainer said, ‘This isn’t training, this is a fight. You knock his effing teeth out.’ So I did.”
“I started at the local levels in Washington and rose to the top levels in the world,” he said. “It’s taken me around the world and I’ve enjoyed that.”
He agrees it’s a brutal business. But, he said, “no one forces me into the cage, or anyone else.”
He said if his son, Kale, or his second son, who is due soon, ever expressed an interest in the fight game, “I’d try to talk them out of it.”
“I’d rather they spend the next 20 years riding their bikes and playing baseball.”
But if one or the other declares mixed martial arts is his calling, “I’ll spend the next 20 years making sure he’s the best in the world.”
Marunde said he thrives on the fact that there are only a handful of safety rules and typically only one fighter walks out of the cage a victor.
He said his early days set the stage for his later successful career. He says working out with Jesse helped him develop great strength, speed and, he says, “a steel jaw.”
He notes one fighter, Jacare Souza, actually broke his hand while punching him.
Marunde said though he’s now 30-plus, he still has a substantial career ahead of him. “I’m getting stronger and I’ve kept myself in good shape.”
Keeping fit is part of the attraction of his new career, he said. “I enjoy the camaraderie in the gym, the fun, the art of combat. The same things as when I was a 10-year old and joined the wrestling team.”
It’s all about the body, he said.
That includes a remarkable ability to lose and gain weight.
Marunde fights as a welterweight, which requires him to weigh in at 170 pounds or less. Right now he weighs 190. Once the phone call for a new bout comes in, he’ll have to drop 20 pounds quickly.
“I’ve gotten pretty good at that,” he said.
And he’s good at turning it around. Before a recent bout he weighed 170 pounds at 5:30 p.m. Friday. “By 11:30 that night I had put on 30 pounds I fought the next day at 200.”
He said it isn’t easy, but he regularly drops 20 pounds of water and 10 pounds of body weight in two to three days.
“It’s probably not good on your internal organs, but I’m in good shape.”
He added, “It’s not something that you should try unless you know the process.”
Beyond the cage
Marunde is more than a fighter: he’s also a notable entrepreneur. Among his other accomplishments, he recently was named the Best Amateur MMA Fight Promoter in Washington.
That keeps him busy.
In one week in March 2012, for example, he fought in a nationally televised MMA event and promoted a 16-bout MMA card at Sequim’s 7 Cedars Casino.
Marunde and his wife also have a real estate company in Las Vegas, where they buy homes, fix them up and flip them. He said Vegas’s current real estate woes provide a unique opportunity. The housing market is “horrible,” he said, “but we can pick them up for cheap. Then we upgrade the houses and make a nice profit.”