Photo via CES MMA

CES 53’s Kody Nordby talks swift return to normalcy, making up for time lost ahead of BW title bout

Time might be on Kody Nordby’s side, but he certainly isn’t living like it.

This past September, the 25-year-old returned from a one-year military tour in the Middle East to a wife, a newborn son, a full-time job as a linesman for National Grid, and a booking opposite Zachary Burhans at Friday’s CES 53 in his native Rhode Island. To hear Nordby recount his time as an infantryman in Iraq and Syria, the mandate was one a great many of his leather-slinging peers subscribe to: stay ready. Not two months after the swiftest of returns to normalcy, Nordby’s running start has bore fruit, as he’ll now face Tony Gravely for CES’ vacant bantamweight crown in Friday’s headliner after Dinis Paiva withdrew over complications related to his weight cut.

In the cage, Nordby is his own lord and master. If he wants the fight to go down on the mat as opposed to the feet, more often than not, he can take it there. Overseas, however, he found comfort in the unknown.

“One of my missions was (as) a door gunner in a Black Hawk helicopter, so if anything popped off or someone got hurt, we would provide cover,” Nordby told MMA Today prior to the last-minute opponent change. “We were kind of on shift 24/7, anything could pop off at any time. It was good because it kept you on your toes and it kind of switched everything up.”

When asked what he missed most during his time in fatigues (aside from his wife and son, of course), Nordby’s response was prompt.

“Definitely MMA,” Nordby said. “I’d been trying to keep track of it online and watching all the different cards and all these guys that were amateurs and are now fighting pros, so I was anxious to get back in there. Seeing guys that I’ve beaten before fighting for belts and it’s like, ‘I’m over here doing this when I could be that guy fighting for a belt,’ but it’s whatever. That’s why I’m back and I kind of jumped right back into it.”

Jump back into it he did. In addition to fatherhood and the gig at National Grid, Nordby wasted no time throwing a training camp into the civilian juggling act upon returning from the Middle East at summer’s end. But the way he sees it, easing his way back into life on this side of the Atlantic would have only prolonged a layoff dating back to March of last year.

“I came back to a little baby boy, so it’s awesome. My wife’s doing a lot of the work taking care of him ‘cause I’m so busy. I got the full-time job, I come home for about a half hour, change up, and head right to practice ‘til about nine o’clock at night. I was glad I was able to get a fight lined up so I can come home and just kind of jump right into it. I’ve had a year off, so anymore time would just be more rust adding up.”

Nordby’s sense of urgency has paid off. With Paiva – a former conquest-turned-training partner – unable to compete, the 25-year-old now heads into the biggest fight of his career, and that’s just the beginning, says “The Norwegian Assassin.” Now 19 months removed from his last walk to the cage, Nordby aims to make up for lost time by maintaining the Donald Cerrone schedule. Should he regale his fellow locals with a victory over Gravely, he’ll set his sights on claiming CES’ 125-pound strap and do his damnedest to defend two crowns until he joins ex-promotional champ Andre Ewell in the UFC.

“If there’s a CES card every two months, I’d like to be on every single one. As long as I’m healthy and my life allows it, I have no problem being on every CES card that they throw.”

He meets Gravely for the vacant CES bantamweight title in Friday’s closer at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI.


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