Brett Trout, a Des Moines patent attorney, has spent the past two months
working towards stepping into the ring in a mixed martial arts match. Photo by Eric Rowley
Brett Trout, a Des Moines patent attorney, has spent the past two months working towards stepping into the ring in a mixed martial arts match. Photo by Eric Rowley
Slowly but surely, Brett Trout is growing accustomed to the feeling of getting punched in the face.

That doesn't mean he'll ever like it.

"I don't know if I mentioned that I'm kind of a wimp," Trout said, adding, "I haven't been hit in the face since I was 8, and I remember not liking it too much."

Whether he likes it or not is irrelevant, though, if he wants to achieve his latest goal. That's because Trout, 45, a successful Des Moines patent attorney and published author, wants to step into the octagon cage. That's right; Trout wants to be a mixed martial arts fighter. At least for one night.

"My fiancée said I can only fight once," he said. "She doesn't want me getting any uglier."

And with a June 21 wedding date, Trout has figured that January would be the latest he could possibly fight and still have time to heal for the big day.

"I have a window there that I can do this so I don't show up to the wedding with stitches across my forehead and a black eye," he said. "That won't look too good for the in-laws."

So, with the help of a legend in the local mixed martial arts community, Trout began his journey toward stepping into the world of cage fighting.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a combat sport in which a wide variety of fighting techniques are used, including jujitsu, boxing, wrestling, judo, kickboxing and many others. The techniques utilized in mixed martial arts competition generally fall into two categories: striking techniques (such as kicks, knees and punches) and grappling techniques (such as clinch holds, pinning holds, submission holds, sweeps, takedowns and throws).

Trout said he has watched the sport for many years, starting in the early '90s.

"I went to a couple of events at Veterans [Memorial] Auditorium and I thought 'Man, I would never dream of doing that,'" he said. "Then I got into hapkido and I saw the chance of getting injured reducing significantly with more training, skill and knowledge."

Hapkido is a Korean martial art that involves joint manipulation and joint locks, but it also incorporates some throws and strikes. Trout has practiced hapkido for seven years and is currently a brown belt.

His MMA trainer, Chuck "The Reverend" Grigsby, has been involved in nearly 30 fights over the past two years, with only three losses. He is the champion of Des Moines-based Midwest Cage Combat promotion and fought for the championship belt in the Omaha region last week. He said when Trout walked into his gym two months ago and asked to be trained as part of Grigsby's "Team Revolution," a group of roughly a dozen men hoping to be professional fighters, he wasn't totally convinced.

"There is a high volume of guys that come in here, and only one or two actually stick it out," Grigsby said. "It takes a great deal of commitment. Plus, he's an older guy. So I told him to just come in and see what it's about and see if he really wanted to do this. He's been a wonderful surprise. He's a hard worker, and being an older guy, seeing him come in here night after night really motivates me and I think it motivates the younger guys too."

Now five days a week, Trout is in training. His schedule is pretty rigid: hapkido during lunch hour at the downtown YMCA, MMA after work at Grigsby's gym, Speed City, 7876 Hickman Road, Windsor Heights, and jujitsu training on Saturdays. Plus, there's the little matter of running his law practice, putting the finishing touches on his third book about Internet law and spending time with his fiancée, Martha, and his two children, ages 9 and 10.

"The fighting is really just a motivation for me to work out, because every morning I wake up and if I don't work out, I'm going to get beat to a bloody pulp," he said. "So it's a great motivation."

Grigsby said the rigid training schedule is necessary to avoid getting hurt.

"You have to make sure you do everything in your power to be the best you can be," he said. "I always tell the fighters that 85 percent of a fight is about what you've done to prepare. Only 15 percent has anything to do with the other fighter."

Trout hopes all this hard work will lead to a fight inside a cage against another Iowa attorney, with the proceeds going to charity.

"I would be willing to fight any attorney in the state," Trout said. "It's not as gutsy a statement as you might think. If you take out all the attorneys that aren't in my weight class, then you find an attorney that knows at least a little bit about these five or so [martial] arts and then you find someone willing to put themselves at risk stepping into the cage. You just don't find a lot of crossover between attorneys and cage fighters."

What is MMA?

Mixed Martial Arts is a combat art in which competitors use integrated forms of fighting to overcome their opponent in a sanctioned and supervised match.


The following are fouls, as set out by the Iowa Athletic Commissioner:

1. Striking of any kind in the groin area.
2. Striking after the bell has terminated the round.
3. Butting the opponent with the head.
4. Biting the opponent.
5. Gouging of an eye.
6. Pulling of hair.
7. Striking an opponent with an elbow while the opponent is on the mat.
8. Striking deliberately at that part of the body over the kidneys.
9. Striking the back of the head with a closed fist.
10. Use of abusive, foul or profane language by any person associated with any contestant.
11. Failing to obey the referee.
12. Deliberately leaving the enclosed ring during the course of a fight in pursuit of another contestant.
13. Using any physical actions which may injure a contestant, except by fair sportinglike means.

Ways to Win

1. Submission by:
- Physical tap out.
- Verbal tap out.
2. TKO:
- Referee stopping the contest because a fighter isn't intelligently defending or attempting to defend.
3. Decision rendered from judges scorecards, including:
- Unanimous decision.
- Split decision.
- Majority decision.
4. Disqualification.
5. Forfeit.
6. No contest.
Trout wants this fight to be big, he said, because it will be both his debut in the sport and his swan song.

"My fiancée was pretty adamant about this being my only fight," he said. "I'm sure if she had her druthers, there would not be any cage fighting at all for me."

But Martha said she has her reasons.

"When he shows up at the ceremony all beat up, I'm the one that gets blamed for it," she said. "We were out a couple of times and the folks that hadn't seen him asked what happened. You know what his response was?"

Trout smiled.

"I didn't listen," he said.

"He's just an adrenaline junkie," Martha said. "So, what am I going to do? But my biggest ally is his daughter, who reminds him she wants a daddy that is alive."

Martha said she knows, however, that her future husband is taking as many precautions as possible.

"He's not going to be stupid about it. Because nobody loves Brett more than Brett," she said.

Plus, she said, "he's huge."

Trout, who stands 6 feet 4 inches and weighs around 250 pounds, said his size is definitely an advantage. But at the end of the day, it will be about his training and whether he can focus in the ring when he gets that first real punch thrown in his direction.

"I'm very much looking forward to right before the bell rings and right after the bell rings," Trout said. "It's the in between that I'm not really excited about."

But this isn't a "tough man competition," Trout said, where two guys get into the ring and try to kill each other.

"The guy in the ring with you doesn't want to hurt you," he said. "He's just trying to put you in a position to where you stop the fight. It isn't a blood sport, and when you learn more about it, you see that."

As January quickly approaches, Trout still hasn't found an opponent or a venue for his fight. If he can't find anyone, he said, he'll simply step into the ring with whoever shows up to fight at a local amateur night program. Either way, Trout said, he'll be happy because win or lose the experience has gained him friends for life.

"The guys are just the best," he said. "They are all good people who want to help you in any way they can. That's the best part: getting to know them."

That's the beauty of the group that have assemble to train under Grigsby, Trout said. Everyone is "good people" who look out for one another. The added value of having a champion trainer around doesn't hurt either.

"He's easily Iowa's toughest attorney," Grigsby said. "When he goes into his fight, I'll have him ready for sure. He's going to look very good at what he does."

While technically he will be ready to fight in October, Trout said he would rather wait.

"[Chuck] said I'd be ready by October, but I want to be more than ready," he said. "If I'm only going to get one, I want to be in good shape. I could learn a lot in four months."

And when fight night finally arrives, does Trout have hopes of a long, drawn out battle that will forever be cemented in his memory?

"I want it to be quick," he said, adding, "If I get in there, hit the guy once and he's knocked out, I'm okay with that. I'll retire with a perfect record and be happy. My primary goal is not to get hurt, so I won't have any qualms about it being too fast."