Michael Sanford was born on the 4th of June, 1985 in Hicksville, NY – United States. Michael started practicing martial arts at 5 years old through Boxing, then Kempo Karate at 7. The martial arts academy where Sanford trained was relatively close minded, and after a few years he left it to pursue wrestling and continue learning Boxing with his aunt Peggy Donovan who became a NY Golden Gloves Champion in 1995.
Michael also experimented with several martial arts throughout his teens, but it wasn’t until the age of 18 when he was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and began watching old video tapes of Royce Gracie in the early UFC’s. At this time he heard of some underground MMA fights happening locally between various fighters in the area, and jumped in winning his first 2 fights with TKO’s in the 1st round. Still training in traditional martial arts and Boxing Mikey sought after BJJ instructors when they came around, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he became an official student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of Master Fransisco Mansor, a Red Belt under the legendary Helio Gracie that had moved to Long Island. Here Mike found his true passion, and earned his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after winning several local tournaments. After receiving his blue belt he also moved into the academy and became an assistant instructor, and started learning to teach. Still competing regularly in the circuit Michael’s true passion for teaching and coaching didn’t start to shine through until he broke his arm in a training accident. At this time he was unable to compete but developed a true passion for teaching. After 2 years of living in the academy Michael moved to Florida to live with his, now wife, Ann Sanford. In Florida under the recommendation of Master Mansor Michael began training under Daniel Moraes, and competing regularly for Team Moraes.
After several years Daniel introduced Michael to Alan Belcher, who recognized Mike’s talent for teaching and immediately asked him to move to Mississippi and be a full time instructor for Alan Belcher MMA Club. Mike and his instructors were excited about the idea, and he’s been there ever since teaching BJJ and competing in Mixed Martial Arts. On January 11th, 2014 Michael was awarded his black belt in BJJ under Daniel and Diego Moraes.