Get a Real Job!

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 by Tony Reid

Even as the sport gains more mainstream acceptance and more knowledgeable fans, you will still hear some fools in the general public and some very casual fans inquire about what mixed martial artists do for a living. I have had a number of fighters tell me personally how pissed off they get when they are told they “don’t have a real job” or asked what they “do for a living”. As any fan worth their salt knows, these guys (and girls) dedicate more time and effort, more blood, sweat and tears to their craft than the vast majority of the regular folks with “real jobs”. This is their career, bozos! These same casual spectators also seem to feel as if these guys fell off a bar stool into the octagon or ring. Every fighter in the sport has held down a regular job, most well into adulthood. Many of them while they were fighting early in their careers, some are now lucky enough to be able to train full time but some still work the nine- to- five. Just for fun, I did a little research to see what our favorite fighters used to do, or in some cases still do for a living outside the cage. This list won’t incorporate guys that have their own gyms or clothing lines, which is basically everyone in the sport. That doesn’t count! The short list/somewhat interesting list goes like this:

Houston Alexander- The UFC Vet, known as “Scrib” on the graffiti scene and “Strong Arm” as the host of Sunday Nite Raw on the Hip Hop radio station KOPW 106.9 in Omaha, Houston is deeply involved in the hip hop culture.

Shane Carwin- He received a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines as well as a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Technology from Western State College. He was a full time Engineer as recently as his fight with Frank Mir at UFC 111, in which he won the interim heavyweight championship.

Brian Stann-The highly ranked UFC Middleweight was a Captain in the United States Marine Corp. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As captain, he led 42 of his men through 6 days of ambushes and heavy attacks.  All 42 men survived Operation Matador and Stann was awarded the Silver Star, the 3rd highest honor given in the United States. Stann now heads Hire Heroes, an organization dedicated to helping our veterans find work when returning home from combat.

Tim Kennedy-A member of the Special Forces unit, trained as Green Beret, went on to the elite unit and went to sniper school, ranger school and counter-terrorism school, graduated top of his class. Just an all around ass kicking machine.

Brett Rogers- “Grim” was a full time associate at Sam’s Club, changing tires for a little more than minimum wage. He gave that gig up after knocking Andrei Arlovski out and out of MMA relevance, in 22 seconds. He might be trying to get that job back now.

Chael Sonnen- A full time shit talker of epic porportions, and a part time real estate agent before his license was revoked for some shady money laundering scheme, among other things. He also moonlights as a politician in his home state of Oregon.

Tim Sylvia-The former UFC Heavyweight Champ is now known as Aux. Officer T.D. Sylvia. Take a ride with him here…

Forrest Griffin- Griffin, the winner of the first season of TUF and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champ, while attending the University of Georgia, served as a law enforcement officer for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office in Augusta, Georgia. He also served as a patrol officer with the University of Georgia Police.

Chuck Liddell-The UFC Hall of Famer is now VP of the UFC. “The Iceman” went to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business/Accounting in 1995. The only things he has counted since his college days are 1. Knockouts 2. Girlfriends and 3. His millions and millions of dollars.

Chris Lytle- We all know he is an Indianapolis Firefighter, which is pretty bad ass in itself, throw that it in mix with his job inside the Octagon (before his recent retirement) and you have a really bad ass. Wait, that didn’t come out right…

Seth Kleinbeck- Dr. Kleinbeck is a Family and ER Physician, with his own practice. Well, he might be able to practice his practice on himself.  Actually, in an interview he stated that he often doubled as the ringside doctor while he was in the amateur ranks. Now that’s putting in work.

Rich Franklin- This isn’t breaking news to anyone but “Ace” earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Cincinnati. He later went on to get his master’s degree in education.  He taught at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati, which is one of the biggest high schools in Ohio. This fact is mentioned by Mike Goldberg every 15.2 seconds during Franklin fights.

Charlie Brenneman- One of the nicest guys in the sport was once a Spanish Teacher, prior to getting his break on Spike TV’s Pros vs. Joes which ignited his competitive fires again and led him back to competition, in MMA.

Joe Lauzon- “J-Lau” has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and was a Network Administrator until he gave it up to become a full time fighter.

Christian Wellisch- Obviously not the most well known cat on this list but Wellisch earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from San Jose State University before graduating with a law degree from the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in 2007. I object! That’s grounds for pounding….With all due respect to Matt Lindland, Wellisch’s nickname should be “The Law”… or “Lockdown” or….I’ll stop now.

Kevin Burns- Mr. Smarty Pants is a Sales Rep at Wells Fargo and earned a business degree from William Penn University. Take that, all you detractors that think these guys are neanderthals.

For my money, I feel that the sport (and its athletes) has been able to keep is down to earth approach, fan friendliness and high level of accessibility due in part to the fact that all of these great athletes spent the majority of their lives in the real world. They worked real jobs, had real problems, dealt with real issues and grew as men before they acquired the success, money and fame associated with the sport now. There is something to be said for that and the authenticity and genuineness that carries with it. These guys weren’t pampered from the time they were ten years old because they could dunk a ball or hit a ball or run like the wind. They didn’t sign $50 million contracts after barely making it through high school only to become a dust collecting fixture on a bench somewhere after not panning out as pros. They worked and worked and worked some more to make pennies and are reaping the benfits now, fully deserving every dollar they earn. Here’s hoping it stays that way for a long, long time to come.