At the age of 24, Ben "The Baker" Neumann already has served his country for nearly eight years, and now he's within a year and a half of graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in computer science.
Neumann enrolled in the National Guard while he was a junior in high school, finished up his basic training before his senior year and then was deployed to Iraq for about 16 months.
He said he simply, "Had a strong desire to serve his country."
After six years in the National Guard, Neumann switched to the Army Reserves, and he's served in that capacity for the last year and a half.
Along the way, Neumann took some Army combatives classes. He never participated in a full-on competition, but Neumann believes that's how the seed was planted.
He already was a fan of mixed martial arts - his mother taped episodes of "The Ultimate Fighter" and sent them to him while he was in Iraq. So when Neumann returned from overseas, he started taking classes at the Warrior's Cove. He fell in love with jiu-jitsu immediately.
Neumann had no intention of competing initially, but the more he trained, the more he felt it was a real possibility.
Earlier this year, Neumann took on his first pro fight (he skipped the amateur ranks). He's now 2-0 as a pro, and Neumann will be looking for his third victory on Friday night during "Combat on Capitol Hill 4" at the St. Paul Armory.