MMA champ encourages teen to stay in school

Posted: Updated:
GREENBURGH -

An MMA champion encouraged a Westchester teen to stay in school.

Woodlands High School sophomore Roman Gibson likes wrestling but he loves the UFC. He’s even talked about dropping out of school to train full-time on becoming an MMA fighter.

Roman's English teacher Chris Vaccaro was determined to change his student's negative mindset.

"I don't know how serious he was about dropping out, but I just felt like something had to be done,” he says.

MORE: Interview with Roman Gibson

Vaccaro reached out by email to Roman’s idol, 27-year-old MMA champion Brian Ortega.  He didn’t tell Gibson about the email in case the MMA star did not respond, but Ortega responded with a video message encouraging Gibson to not drop out of school like he did in the 11th grade.

Ortega told Roman his former coach gave him an ultimatum.

"He realized I dropped out, and kicked me out and forced me to go to school. And now I thank him a lot for it because I got my degree,” said Ortega.

After hearing Ortega’s encouragement, Roman decided to stay in school and is more focused than ever on his studies, according to his teacher.

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