After growing up in gang-infested Little Haiti and fighting insurgents in Iraq, Mackens Semerzier is now chasing MMA glory. The 30-year-old fighter is the first Haitian-American to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, making his debut this past March 26 by defeating opponent Alex Caceres with a submission rear-naked choke hold. In five of his six victories since turning pro in 2008, Semerzier has choked out his adversaries. In a Miami Herald profile last year, Semerzier credited his mother Rose for keeping his nose clean even though he had friends who stole. "My mom would've kicked my butt," he told the Herald. The up-and-coming mixed martial artist was a wrestler in high school, placing sixth in the Class 6A Florida high school wrestling tournament in 1999. A year after graduating, he enlisted with the U.S. Marines. In 2003, while deployed in Iraq, the Corps instituted a martial arts program that taught soldiers, including Semerzier, how to apply submission-like guillotine chokes. The Miami native now resides in Chesapeake, Virginia, where he is training to become the top featherweight MMA fighter in the UFC.