FEATURED MMA FIGHTER: The Legend of Blackie Chan

A hotheaded middle schooler combined with no filter, Jordan “Blackie Chan” Baxter didn’t cease to avoid one-on-one brawls growing up in Rockford, IL, learning self-defense sparked his interest in Taekwondo, paving an MMA career.

“I got beat up by a few kids, and I was like well I want to learn how to fight,” Baxter said. “Not too long after that, I found a paper for this Taekwondo gym at Rockford’s local community center.”

At first, his mother Karen said no. He eventually convinced her in letting him sign up for martial arts classes, showing the flyer that advertises: self-defense, flexibility, and confidence. Baxter felt in love with it right away, he added.

Baxter earned his black belt in Taekwondo at Star Martial Arts Studios within less than a year. He started at the age of 11, spending only three years at the South Beloit dojo, though he trained five days a week and competed in tournaments every single weekend.

Despite the success he had, Baxter left Star Martial Arts Studio due to personal reasons and took a year break from Taekwondo. Until he found Excel Academy.

Jordan Baxter kicking Rodney Roberts at XFO: Rocktown Showdown 34 in Rockford, IL.
“He’s just naturally a gifted person, so when he first came to our school he already had a lot of raw talent. When you see a kid like that, you get motivated,” Excel Academy’s master Bennie Gonzalez said. “I pushed him extra hard and I put him to spar against my better students because I knew he would be able to excel that way.”

Gonzalez won the majority of sparring sessions when Baxter started at Excel Academy. Suddenly within a month or two, Baxter began to defeat Gonzalez and others in sparring.

After training in Taekwondo for 12 years, Baxter decided to run away from combat sports. He despised the notion of becoming a fighter.

“Some people got a certain attitude because they knock people out for a living,” Baxter said. “I didn’t want to be at that level of arrogance.”

Baxter found himself at a dead end, not knowing which direction his life was going. He trained at the gym for no purpose and felt an emptiness inside until the death of his cousin Haylee Rine.

Family portrait of Jordan Baxter on the left and his cousin Haylee Rine pictured in the middle.
“When she had passed away, I was like I don’t have the time that I think I do. She’s a big part of the reason why I opted in MMA,” Baxter said. “I had to say to myself, ‘this is something I knew I’ve been good at for a long time.’ It’s kind of a weird kind of calling.”

Rine passed away at the age of 22 around December 2017. She endured a bronchial infection which filled her lungs with fluids. Rine joined Taekwondo because of Baxter. They shared a bond in martial arts as they earned their black belts together. Rine was like a little sister to him, he added.

“Blackie Chan” Baxter’s MMA career began two months after the death of his cousin. Preparations for his first amateur fight took a pause when he dislocated his shoulder in April. Baxter didn’t train intensely for months, for fear of his shoulder popping out of place.

“I told him don’t rush it, the fight will be there. I encouraged him to take time off and heal,” Donnie Cochran said, Excel Academy’s MMA coach. “I like to be in contact with the people I’m training and understand how they feel. I didn’t want to push too much on him. Again, he’s really in tune with his body.”

Excel Academy MMA coach Donnie Cochran taping Jordan Baxter’s hand before his bout at the Chicago Cagefighting Championship in Villa Park, IL.
“Blackie Chan” healed in time and had four months of intense training in preparation for his fight in November at XFO: Rocktown Showdown 34 held in his hometown of Rockford.

Baxter defeated Rodney Roberts via TKO (punches) in the first round. He extended his winning record to 2-0 by defeating Danny Ferrone at the Chicago Cagefighting Championship on June 1st.

“I always felt I had the ability to go pro in a sport. My mom always told me you can do anything but be a fighter,” Baxter said. “My parents slipped up and put me in Taekwondo classes and I fell in love with it.”