When Danny “Dirty” Durnavich found out that V3Fights 64 would be held on Veterans Day, he told his coach to do everything he could to get him on the card.
The welterweight who spent six years in the Air Force says his heart will swell with pride the moment he enters the cage to face Jerrod James at the Tampa Convention Center on November 11.
“It’s a little more inspirational than any other day, but it’s still a fight and anything can happen,” Durnavich said. “I will have a lot of my active duty friends there, a lot of my veteran friends there. It’s going to be a good crowd and a good military crowd at that. I was stationed at MacDill (Air Force Base) down in Tampa, so I’m home. I’m bringing all my military people with me.”
Although Durnavich has been known to wear his patriotism on his sleeve and the pattern of the flag on his fight shorts – like the night he knocked out Cristian Santiago with a straight right 22 seconds into their fight in February – his bout with James will have added significance.
It will be his pro debut.
When Durnavich, who was 7-1 as an amateur, was asked if he subconsciously began training harder considering he’s taking his career to the next level, he said, “Yeah, it’s not subconsciously.” He notices his conditions has been better. He has getting work in at Koh Muay Thai in Brandon. He’s even been sharpening up his elbow techniques.
Durnavich, who is coming off a second-round submission victory over Raheam Forest in V3Fights 61 in August, says the attributes instilled in him during his time in the Air Force such as discipline, attention to detail and time management have served him well as a fighter.
He had to summon all of his strength to pass a rigorous battery of tests to become a member of the Phoenix Ravens, an elite force of commandos deployed to secure airfields and protect multimillion-dollar aircraft and their precious crews and cargos. He was sent to 46 countries. He found himself under the hot sun of hot spots such as Iraq and Afghanistan dozens of times.
Sometimes, Durnavich and the others were only given ten hours’ notice before heading to far-flung locales. Sometimes he was dispatched to the Middle East, or maybe Africa, or maybe South America. The only thing he could be sure of was that each mission was fraught with danger. After all, even after the craft had landed and the field was secure, they would stand around the plane, guarding it.
“We were only required in high terrorist locations, he said. “The only time they brought us in, it meant they were going somewhere bad.”
In the process of finding the courage to venture into these areas and mustering the strength to meet these seemingly superhuman challenges, Durnavich learned a lot about himself.
“I guess what I learned is that when my body is quitting, keeping going,” he said. “When your body says, ‘Hey man, I’m tired, I’ve had enough,’ mentally I can push myself past that.’ That’s why I beat a lot of people.”
Big things are happening for Durnavich outside of the cage, too. He recently got engaged. In fact, he was spending a recent afternoon painting the front door, shudders and mail box at his and Linsy’s new home. Durnavich says jobs around the home such as painting and replenishing the mulch in the flower bed are great ways to relax.
These quiet moments have been fewer and fewer, and the excitement has begun to build the closer it gets to his pro debut.
“It definitely feels different,” he said. “It’s real. … Your discipline really has to be there and on November 11, you’ll see that.”