Chad George is a former professional Mixed Martial Artist who was instrumental in garnering worldwide attention to the sport after starring in the hit documentary Occupation: Fighter. Chad has recently retired and is now passing on his knowledge of the sport to students at his Gym, California Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness.
Do you think the UFC buying out the WEC had any effect on your career?
You know, it did a little bit. But at the same time, a lot of amazing things came after the WEC. I had my last fight in the WEC, which was against Antonio Banuelos, while I was on a five-fight contract. That contract was supposed to transfer over to the UFC after the UFC bought it out. But I was amongst a group of people that they just didn’t tell they weren’t coming over.
So I was actually never really released or even informed about it. I just got put on the back burner with the majority of the roster.
I was waiting, waiting, and waiting, and one thing came to another and I realized “Hey, what’s going on here?” So I had my coach at the time reach out to them, and they(UFC) advised us to start taking smaller fights just to stay active. Which was weird considering I was on contract with them.
Then we realized I was no longer on the roster. It’s crazy, you work your entire career to get to the pinnacle of it, and then it’s gone without you even realizing it. BUT you know what?! I’m a firm believer of everything happens for a reason. And after my days with the WEC some amazing things happened.
I was able to travel around the world and compete, I was able to have my fight in Bellator, build a lot more fan base here (California) and locally in the States. So you know, I’m not even really that upset about it.
Bellator Winning Performances
Your submission victory over Mark Vorgeas at Bellator 136 was unique to say the least. After you let go of the Von Flue choke and saw your opponent was out, what was going through your mind as you argued with the referee?
It was one of those things where I had to make a judgement call. I felt that he had gone unconscious and for me, my job as a fighter is to go out there and win. But if I can go out there and win by hurting my opponent as little as possible, then that’s what I’m gonna do. To go in there and get the “W” and come home to my family and get back into the gym as quickly as possible is really all I want to do.
When discussing your retirement in another interview you mentioned that you were getting more into training Jiu-jitsu. One thing that stuck out to me in your response though, was that you mentioned that you would be suffering a lot less impact concerning your head.
Do you feel as though you’ve suffered any sort of long term damage to your brain from your time in MMA? Because you’ve never been KO’d or TKO’d in your professional MMA career.
Umm, I hope not aha. But you know I’ve been doing this sport for a long time, for over 10 years now, and it wasn’t until the last few years that I think training really started shaping up into a proper foundation.
You know, in the early years of the sport, it was all about getting in there, beating each other up, and getting ready for the fight. Every day in the gym was a fight.
Getting Beat Up everday In The Gym
The only way it made sense to us back then was to beat each other up physically. You had to get ready for a fight by fighting every single person in the gym, every single day. And over time, it adds up.
I’ve noticed a couple of little things with myself as far as trauma to the head that I really don’t like, and it scares me. I’m glad I’m not going through that anymore.
Most people don’t realize that the majority of injuries don’t happen during the fight, they happen during training. Going back to what I said previously, it wasn’t until recently that they’re starting to develop proper ways of training.
It used to be all about grind, grind, grind. We used that wrestling mentality, and the way we used to wrestle was to just go as hard as you can. If you needed to go out and vomit, go out and vomit and then get back in and do it again until you can’t pick yourself up.
And we used to do that with sparring as well every single day. You know you get hit in the, hit in the head, get dropped, get knocked out, pick yourself back up again and continue… Your brain can only take so much of that.
Here I mentioned to Chad that he sounded really good and that I didn’t notice anything off with his responses and speech. He replied with the following:
Aha you should ask my fiancé that same question and see what she has to say!
Overcoming Physical Issues From Fighting
Since MMA is now just beginning to come out of its infancy, do you think we’re going to see more people come out with any sort of mental deterioration similar to what we’ve been seeing with football and boxing?
I hate to admit it, but I do. I have a lot of close personal friends that are dealing with some severe problems, and even myself; I see things I don’t like in the way I articulate words. I have to really think about the things I want to say and slow down a bit. A lot of the time I’ll spit words out that I didn’t mean to say.
My short term memory is almost completely gone. My long term memory is embarrassing because I don’t remember much from my childhood. The average person can look at some photos and go right back to that time. For me, it’s really kind of sad, I don’t really remember certain things ever happening.
What do you think the solution is?
I think the solution is to minimize the amount of trauma you take to your brain as much as possible. When you go out there and fight, you get paid. You get to paid to go out there and take those risks. You shouldn’t be doing that in the gym.
You should be doing the measures it takes to get to the fight in the gym: building up your technique, working drills…etc. You do need to spar, but not like your trying to kill each other!
If you get dropped or knocked out, you need to take the time needed to recover. You can’t just be like “Oh I’m a tough guy. I got this fight coming up. I gotta push through”. No, you’re training. The idea is to get better and improve and have longevity in your career.
Chad George on Retirement
You created California Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness Academy. How have you found the transition from fighter to coach/owner?
I’ve always felt that that was my real calling; coaching and teaching. So for me to step back and take a coaching role was actually pretty easy for me. But I’m still in there training with all these guys, now I’m just passing on the torch by teaching them and trying to give them the same opportunities I had in the sport.
I want to help them take their careers to places they’ve only dreamed of. The Sky’s the limit in this sport as long as you have the right people around you, and you’re willing to put in the work.
What was the most challenging aspect of the transition?
The most challenging part would have to be the fact that I’m still a fighter. I’m a coach now, but the fighter in me still wants to compete with these guys. I watch the UFC, I train with a lot of guys from the UFC, and some of the best fighters from around the world and I sometimes think to myself “I should be in there fighting these guys! I’m right there with them.”
That’s the hardest part, knowing that I’m capable of getting in there, but also knowing that my body is pretty banged up and that it can’t go through what it needs to in order to get in there.
So you still have thoughts of coming out of retirement?
Everyday, every single day.
Injuries Holding Chad Back!
What holds you back?
For me, it’s the severe injuries I’ve had. I’ve already gone through back surgery; I have neck problems right now that I’m most likely going to need surgery for.
I want to be there for my soon to be wife. I want to be able to have kids and play with them…
I’ve done a lot in the sport. I can step away from it and not be upset and think “Oh I wish I could have done more.” My last fight, in my opinion, was kind of like a Michael Jordan 3 pointer walk off the court! So no regrets.
What do you want to accomplish with CMMA (California Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness) and what are your personal goals since retiring from professional MMA?
My goal for CMMA is to just grow it as much as possible and really give back to the martial arts community. I want to give people the opportunity to really find themselves through the arts as I did.
Martial arts really are something that allows us to grow and learn things about ourselves. And I just love that I get to teach that every single day to adults, to kids, and allow them to find a passion!
Lastly, who do you think will take the Faber/Cruz rematch? (UFC 199)
Hmm, that’s tough. That’s going to be a good fight! I’m actually buddies with Urijah, and I’ve trained with Dominick a few times… I would like to see Urijah win, but I think it might be Cruz’s night. But I would like to see Urijah pull it off!
Images courtesy of mmamania.com, bellator.spike.com & cmmafitness.com