OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha is home to one of the best grapplers in the world. John Hansen is a three-time world champion and runs Team Axios in Omaha.
"He's a six foot five 250 pound killing machine but he's also a huge teddy bear and has a huge marshmallow center," said Christina Hansen, John's wife.
In college at the University of Iowa, Hansen was 145 pounds. He put on muscle and started getting in to jujitsu in 2010.
"If I'm not going to overpower somebody I'm going to have to outperform them technically and that's always given me an edge," Hansen said. "It's about as truthful as you can get. It's man versus man. There is nobody else to take the blame you either won or you lost."
A first-degree black belt, the 33-year old Hansen won IBJJF world titles in Nogi in 2016 and 2017.
"I always wanted to be a world champion I always wanted to be a ADCC world champion and I never had any other goal," Hansen said.
This year Hansen switched disciplines and won the world title in UWW in Nagi, bringing the stars and stripes to the top of the podium.
"Representing Team USA was definitely the highest honor I've received," Hansen said. "To have the flag on my sleeve was a lifetime goal."
Through his success, Hansen, a Council Bluffs-native, has kept Omaha and his hometown close to his heart.
"Being able to be on that level and knowing I'm just some kid from Omaha, very cool," Hansen said.
Hansen teaches every Thursday at a gym in Omaha. While he may compete by himself on the mat, he says jujitsu is a team sport.
"There's that duality where you can't ever lose as a team because you're the only one out there but you don't win by yourself which keeps you humble," Hansen said.
Hansen said he's expected to become a second-degree black belt in the next few months.