By: Luke Wyckoff Issue: Sports Section: Collaborator Profile
Five Minutes With An Ultimate Fighter
Where did you get the nickname The Hybrid?
I got the nickname from the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) staff and the producers of Spike TV. Your typical heavy weight is a big huge guy who is a little slower, and often not as technical as I am. In my case, I don’t look like I’m a heavy weight. Actually a lot of people think I’m a light heavy weight. So really, I’m a hybrid. I’m a fighter with knock-out power who moves like a light weight.
Have you always been competitive?
Yes. Growing up my older brother and I would compete against each other in everything. My dad was a black belt in karate and taekwondo and got us into martial arts when we were younger, so I was always competitive whether it was football, basketball, baseball -- everything.
What are your goals over the next few years?
Anything less than becoming a world champion would be a failure for me. My standards are pretty high. In order to be the world champion, what do you need to do today, next week, and over the next year?
I prefer to take it one day at a time. I have to focus on training and getting better every day. I cannot overlook my next opponent. It’s as simple as that.
Why do you think UFC has become more popular than boxing?
Boxing is a dying sport. In my opinion, they have two fighters left that any one really cares about - Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. The UFC is really exciting with the outstanding athletes that they have today. The promoting strategies of the UFC make it the biggest fighting stage in the world right now.
What do you think the allure is to UFC compared to boxing?
We wear four ounce gloves, and a fight can go anywhere. You’ve got guys who are world-class athletes, competing with four ounces gloves. So, you’re going to see a lot more vicious knock-outs and head kicks, as well as punches.
So what motivates you?
I am motivated to make a living by becoming a prize fighter. For me, fighting pays the bills. Getting a knock-out literally puts food on my table and helps me pay my rent.
How do you prepare for a fight?
I usually fight between eight and nine o’clock at night, so it can be a long day. In the morning, I’ll wake up and I’ll do a lot of visualization. I’ll go through a fight a thousand times in my head, put myself in the worst-case scenario, visualize myself winning in every scenario. And then I’ll eat breakfast with my corner-men and a couple of my teammates. I usually just hang around all day, watching movies and relaxing - actually trying to take my mind off the fight. But once I walk into the arena and I get to the locker room, I’m focused and ready to go. Nerves just go out the window.
You’re already in the ring; you’re one minute before the fight - what’s going through your mind?
I’m going over the game plan that my coaches have created for me. I’m going back over all the things I’ve worked on and what I’ve got to be aware of. It’s just a check list. I’m in the zone - it’s almost cruise control
when I get in the ring. I’ve prepared for the fight. Now it’s the fun part.
How do you connect fighting and business?
I care about the business side of professional fighting - the way I look, my image, doing charity work, and other philanthropic activities. A sponsor is more to me than a paycheck - it’s about creating relationships and helping one another out.
What do you think business leaders could learn from the UFC?
Business leaders could learn about the work ethic it takes to get to be a top level contender. You can’t find it anywhere else. The dedication and discipline it takes just to sign a contract to be in the UFC is ridiculous. We’re a different breed.
If you could fight anybody in corporate America, who would you want to fight?
If I could fight anyone in corporate America, it would be whoever owns T-Mobile because of the international roaming charges they charged me. I would wreck that guy!
Five years from now, what’s happening in your life?
Five years from now, I will definitely be holding the UFC belt.
What, if anything, when you’re done being a UFC fighter, do you want to do?
I think I’ll get into real estate. My brother and my dad are in real estate, and I’ll probably fall into their shoes and somehow get into the family business.