PHOENIX — Mexican MMA fighter Jose Alday was back on U.S. soil this week after being deported from Tucson years ago.
Alday competed for the Combate Americas bantamweight world championship at Celebrity Theater Friday night and won it all.
Born in Mexico, Alday was deported when he was 20. His parents had overstayed their tourist visas when Alday was younger. One day a police officer asked Alday for his ID, and his secret was out.
The athlete was sent back to Sonora, Mexico without his family and without anyone waiting for him.
For the next few years, Alday said he tried to come to terms with being in Mexico and not trying to get back to his family. Discovering MMA fighting while he was in college gave him new purpose.
"I was in a rough point in my life," Alday said. "I couldn't visualize myself from 9 to 5 in a desk."
Over the next few years, he married his high school girlfriend from Tucson, competed MMA fights, and waited for a green card.
Now, he's back in Tucson with his family and a winning record.
It's a life he admits he probably would never have had without his deportation.
"Somebody very special to me said it's a blessing in disguise," Alday said.
Alday defeated Gustavo Lopez Friday night at Celebrity Theater. He was originally slated to fight Levy Marroquin, who withdrew after being diagnosed with flu-like symptoms.