NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (FOX 56) — Fighting for the number one spot in the world, Rob Nickerson, a local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete has three more chances to reach the top spot, but the Nicholasville black belt said gold medals aren’t the only goal.

Nickerson is on a roll, winning seven of his last eight matches. He said you either win or you learn. After having six knee surgeries since October, he said he is learning a lot.

Nickerson has learned his gold medals are more for other people than for himself since everyone can relate to a gold medal. He said a medal wrapped around his neck feels good for a moment, but it’s a fleeting feeling and eventually, the medals will tarnish.

For Nickerson, the most rewarding part of any tournament is the matches and what he can take away from them to get better. But it’s not about being better than his opponents.

“It’s trying to be better than myself. There is some self-gratification that comes with it,” said Nickerson. “With all the challenges I faced this year, it’s more about proving to myself that I can. Every doctor said I was not going to be able to return, and I want to prove them wrong.”

Nickerson’s season ends December 7th. He believes he will be the best of the best by then. However, he said his greatest accomplishment would be if one of his students beat him.

Nickerson is a decade-long mixed martial arts teacher and owns Reaction MMA in Nicholasville. Even with his mind on his own matches, he said his main focus is always on his students.

He said mixed martial arts teaches men that brute strength isn’t the most important thing, and it teaches women they are strong enough to defend themselves. He trains several nationally ranked athletes at his gym, but not all his students compete. Reaction MMA is a space where you can be the best version of yourself.

“As much as it looks on the outside as very physical, it is also very mental. It’s a physical debate,” said Nickerson. “The challenges overcome on the mat will absolutely transcend into your life.”