All athletes need a sense of belonging, or at least, someone that believes in them.

Growing up, Anthony Adams didn't have any of that.

"I didn't have the best childhood, but I didn't have the worst," Adams said.

Adams-a local mixed martial arts fighter competing in the Sparta Combat League this weekend at the Colorado Convention Center--never believed in himself because nobody around him did.

"I felt like a black sheep," Adams said. "No one really paid attention to me. I was never the popular guy in high school or middle school. I was just a problem."

He couldn't even fit in with his own family, a detail about his life that he likes to keep reserved.

"It's just really personal," Adams said. "I don't want to get too far into that."

But, everything changed in 2013 when he met Thomas Denny, his current trainer.

Denny saw something in Adams right away, and told him he could be a champion. The two started working together soon after, and Adams has transformed into a solid welterweight fighter in that time. He's on the main card Saturday in Denver and is trying to win his fifth straight match.

It all started with the support of someone else in his life.

Recently, after a tough day of training, Adams wanted to thank his coach for turning his outlook around. When he got home, he sent him a text:

" one ever believed in me as a person growing up.

Teachers always thought I was a problem. Pops was a player.

Mom was on drugs. No one really paid attention to me.

Then I found you. We're going to prove them all wrong.

It took 25 years for someone to believe in me."

"I got that text, and I read it man and was like, 'this is what I live for,'" Denny said. "This is the relationship I live for, because now I know he's becoming the man I knew he could always be."

Someone bought in to Anthony Adams. And now, he is finally believing in himself.

Adams is one of several fighters competing in the Sparta combat league this Saturday at the Convention Center. Fight fans that can't make it downtown can catch the action by live streaming the 9NEWS Facebook Page.