A Cautionary Tale For Young Fighters

This is an open letter to young competitors out there who have stars in their eyes and a dream to be the next Mundials of UFC champion.
After that big win, the riches will flow, sponsorship money will come pouring in, you will be driving a luxury car with room enough for 2 or 3 hotties!

My advice: Have a Plan B for your life

We live in a culture of pop psychology that says “If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve!”
While that is a great motivational quote and all great achievements start with goal setting, it is not that straightforward in the world of sports.

For every Conor McGregor driving in a new Lamborghini and flying around the world doing media appearances there are MILLIONS of guys fighting for a few hundred $$ or nothing at all.
A strong belief in yourself and a great desire is NOT enough to win a World Championship.
There is a cultural belief from the Rocky movies that good old American guts and determination can overcome ALL obstacles.

Watch “American Idol” and witness people with no talent and zero realistic chance of being an entertainment superstar be shocked when they aren’t picked!
They may have been waiting tables at Denny’s for years, certain that their big break was around the corner.

To train for a World Championship requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication of a full time training camp.
To win a Bjj World Championship at a lower belt requires an almost professional approach to training multiple sessions per day and total commitment.

What we don’t see on the MMA and “Road to the Championship” video features are the guys who try and fail.
It just doesn’t happen for them. Not every story has a happy ending like in the movies.

Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia
Photo by: Blanca Marisa Garcia

Many guys realize after a big loss, that it just isn’t going to happen for them.
But they have spent those thousands of hours in the gym – instead of working on a business or going to college.
When their competitive career is over, they find themselves often with permanent injuries and zero marketable job skills.

I knew a young fighter with dreams of UFC stardom in his eyes who worked the graveyard shift at a warehouse so he could train boxing, wrestling, bjj and do his conditioning during the week.
After a few years he had a record of 3-3. A tough guy for sure, but Conor McGregor was not looking over his shoulder in the rear view of his Lamborghini.

I asked him if he had a Plan B?
What if he suffered a complete ACL tear or permanent concussion injury?
What was he going to do?

He shrugged his shoulders and replied that he hadn’t really thought about it.
This is a young man that is putting himself in a vulnerable position in life.
The financial rewards of fighting are pitifully low. And it is not exactly a news flash that money is important to live.

I respectfully recommended that he look at some part time college courses to prepare for a life IF his pro MMA stardom didn’t pan out.

Some readers are going to protest: “You are just being negative!” or “If McGregor listened to the doubters he would never win!”
That is true for the champions. But there is only 1 gold medal winner or belt holder.

A far more common story is like the guy who told me over a few drinks one night that he had dedicated his life to training and fighting.
Was a full muay thai kru, had fought overseas in Japan and was a muscular, formidable machine in his prime 10 year before.
Now, he lamented, that he had 2 broken knees and was starting a career 10 years after his peers.
He regretted that he had been so short sighted during his competitive career.

Go for your competitive dreams, but have a Plan B.

A Reader Question: “I have a question, why am I extremely good at my gym but I lose when I compete?

Email us for question: info@jiujitsutimes.com


  1. Well said.
    If you have no plan B, and are not actively working on it, ready to be pulled off the shelf or working on it regularly you are simply set up to fail. The world is cruel, unfair and often random. This randomness gets all of us on a regular basis and yet we fail to learn. You plan > god laughs.


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