Most fighters are interesting to us for their unique ability to beat the living tar out of most other people on the planet. As a kid, there were always those tough guys in the neighbourhood, but professional fighters put that person and his whole family to shame (as demonstrated in the show Bully Beatdown). But much like an alien dressed as a human, there are times when these very skilled monsters walk amongst us and you'd never know that the person who you pass in the lobby of your job could beat up 99% of the people on the planet.
This list is a list of those that walk (or used to walk) amoungst us, those who got educated and were someone completely different until they became professional fighters. Some of them make enough as professional fighters, while some of them work Monday through Friday, and then kick tail feathers on Saturdays.
15 Shane Carwin - Mechanical Engineer
Of all the people who have an excellent career outside the octagon, Shane Carwin used his brain far more than his brawn as a profession. However, figuring out advanced mathematics in an effort to better understand a problem wasn't enough of a challenge for Carwin. So, he laced up his XXXL gloves and started punching people in the face.
To this day, he is one of the most powerful strikers the UFC has ever seen. However, due to repeated neck injuries, Shane Carwin retired his ginormous gloves from the UFC and went back to his very lucrative and accomplished career as an Mechanical Engineer. Where on any given day, at any given moment, he could Hulk Smash everyone within a 25 mile radius.
14 Brett Rogers - Tire Service At Sam's Club
Brett Rogers is an interesting case that I don't want to say too much about because no one knows where he is right now. Which makes me think, if no one knows what happened to him, he might appear behind me and punch my head off. His nickname was after all Da Grim, so it could happen. The other reason he is interesting is because he had a natural ability rarely seen in MMA. He got into the sport with very little experience and, in a short time, had rattled off 10 wins, all either by knockout or TKO from punches. The list of people he beat was not all tomato cans, as it included James Thompson and Andrei Arlovski. Then he fought Fedor, a fight in which he broke Fedor's nose, taking him into round three before Da Grim found out what it was like to get knocked out. Things then kind of got slippery for him, as he had a little domestic trouble at home and then Alister Overeem kicked his body to pieces and he has been a mixed bag since then.
He still has to potential to be a better fighter than he is and never change another tire again (which is what he did before fighting), but his mixed output doesn't show him making the right decisions in training and his record outside of the cage doesn't show him making the best decisions in the home.
13 Chael Sonnen - Real Estate Agent
The man with the greatest gift of gab in the history of MMA was also a real estate salesman. Which is probably the best thing he could have done outside of being a used car salesman, simply because he's a good looking, physically fit, funny and nice guy. Even if he was selling someone a house that was built in the center of Tornado Alley, there is a mighty good chance that after talking with the guy, you'd end up buying that house.
Sonnen did get into a bit of a legal jam at his real estate job (and MMA career) and it has to do with money lending and escrow and something or another. I asked a real estate friend of mine and was told that it's a little dishonest, but 99% of people in real estate do it and 99.99% never get caught. Sucks to be that 0.01%.
12 Rich Franklin - Math Teacher
When Rich Franklin was starting his career, he was teaching math to a bunch of kids that definitely turned their homework in on time and sat there quietly working when told to do so. If you look over some of Franklin's early stories, he would mention how he would come in to teach after a weekend fight and have a black eye or his arm in a cast, and the kids, much like you do when you are trapped in a room with a smiling clown holding an ice pick, would pretend it wasn't there and talk about algebra while averting eye contact.
Franklin's career then took off and left his teaching behind. He still has one of the best knockouts in UFC history over Nate Quarry. People mostly think of Franklin for his not so wonderful ability to break the Muay Thai clinch of Anderson Silva, but looking at his record, he was/is a very capable fighter.
11 Kenny Florian - Financial Document Translator
Kenny Florian is a mixed bag of a human being. Starting his MMA career originally as a BJJ guy, he slowly transitioned into a mean Muay Thai fighter, that utilized elbows in a devastating way. However, before all of that, he was translating financial documents into foreign languages for companies. Not in a cool espionage kind way, but in the 'helping a company communicate globally' kind of way. He was working this job and training in BJJ while saving up and preparing for law school. Fate stepped in and, while on a vacation, he took a wrong step and had a nasty tumble down a mountain. Once his downward motion of death came to a stop, he reassessed his life and decided he was going to be a fighter.
He made it to the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter, where he lost in the finale. He kept fighting for the company and he is the only fighter in UFC history to compete in four weightclasses going backwards from Middleweight to Welterweight to Lightweight to Featherweight. So he went from heavier to lighter. Going up in weight is much easier, making his accomplishment even more impressive.
10 Chuck Liddell - Accountant
Chuck Liddell is the ultimate litmus test of fighters. If you take Royce Gracie, and put anyone of today's weight against the very best version of Royce then, the new guy would win. The GSP of today, would ruin the Royce Gracie of then. However, Chuck Liddell is one of the only fighters that equation doesn't work for. Liddell, with the skill set he had, could beat any 205 pound fighter (not named Quinton Jackson) now.
Time and getting punched in the face caught up with him in the end, but before he was the most iconic fighter in UFC history, he was a certified trained accountant from California Polytechnic University, graduating with a BA in Business and Accounting in 1995. This makes him the scariest man to ever drop a box of receipts on a desk. I'd also believe that the business acumen he learned in school has helped his career, as time has gone by and he is one of the few athletes you can name that made their money, found a way to continue making money and has never gone broke.
9 Tank Abbott - History Degree / Author
While not exactly a history teacher or a historian of anything outside of beer varieties and the inner workings of bar room urinals, David "Tank" Abbott makes the list for the sheer fact that he has an education and is a published author, as well as a podcast that I've never listened to. There was a time when Tank was one of the most feared boxers in all of MMA, unless your name was Vitor Belfort. Tank used the "pit fighter" fighting style, as he knew it would help brand him as a tough guy, as if the beard and shaved head didn't already do that. However, he wasn't a pit fighter, as he had been boxing for 13 years and wrestled in college where he was an All American before dropping out for a bit. In college, he helped tutor and train another fighter from Huntington Beach named Tito Ortiz.
David Abbott has been many things over his career, from a feared fighter, to a bar room brawler, to a guy who said he would bet anyone $100,000 that he could beat up Ronda Rousey, to a published author. He also has a degree in history, which he received at the University of California.
8 Pete Williams - Chef
Most people will recognize Pete Williams without actually knowing who he is. Pete Williams was from the old school days of MMA. Back when The Lion's Den was one of the best gyms in the world and fights happened in run down bayou bars and not in a mega arenas. How would you recognize Pete Williams? Simple, he is the one who kicked Mark Coleman in the face at UFC 17 and knocked him flat out. This clip is shown on repeat in about every UFC highlight you've ever seen.
Now on the flip side of glory, he is the guy that got caught in the nasty shoulder lock by a young Frank Mir. So you've seen him dozens of times but probably never knew who he was.
But who he is now? He's a Chef. While he could have kept on fighting and made a few thousand dollars by taking years off his life, he opted out early, went to school and ditched Mixed Martial Arts to replace it with the Culinary Arts. Now if he's the same Pete Williams I stalked on LinkedIn when writing this article, he's doing well for himself and living happily ever after in a kitchen where no one sends the food back.
7 Guy Mezger - PhD Holistic Health
Guy Mezger is an all around bad son of a gun. Think of him like, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, but at level 7 intensity, not at level 10 like Cerrone. Not only did Mezger, after already retiring from MMA, see a guy hitting a women in a parking lot and intervene, because, you should, but when the attacker pulled a knife, Mezger took a slash to the hand, then broke bones throughout the fella's arm and stopped the would-be attacker from further harming others. STUD!
Guy Mezger was a fighter that was always there when it came to the best in the world. Finally, when he put it all together and he was signed once again with the UFC to fight Tito Ortiz in a fight that I am positive based on his previous performances he'd win with ease, he suddenly had a stroke. From that point he reevaluated everything, went back to school and got a PhD in Holistic Medicine. He now helps heal athletes (and normal people), looking for alternative ways to stay healthy and get back in the fight (or back to life, whichever).
6 Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson - Adult Film Set Bouncer
I think of Kimbo Slice much differently than others. Many people think of him as the feared backyard brawler who knocked that one guy's eye out. And he did, he do that. But by all accounts, Kimbo was (as he is now deceased) one of the sweetest human beings to ever ball up a fist and throw it at a face. To me, he is a huge part of the American dream. He found a skill set and utilized it. He is from an era that believes if you can work, whatever that work is, then there is a job for you. If you can lift boxes, we have that, if you can wash cars or punch faces, we have that for you. Was he ever the best in the world? No, not even close. But, he took the limited tools he had and ran with them.
But before he was a scary dude in the cage, he was a scary dude in life. And the mere look of him was enough to send unwanted photographers and neighbors packing their bags and getting the heck away from the movie set. What movie set you might ask? Adult Films. For awhile Kimbo Slice did his best to not make eye contact with the performers during their live action stunts on sites down in Miami.
5 Joe Lauzon - Network Administrator
Fans should call Joe Lauzon "Piggy Bank," as he has won the most UFC Bonuses in the company's history. This includes 6x Submission of the Night, 6x Fight of the Night, 1x Knockout of the Night and 1x Performance of the Night. As well as the 2012 Fight of the Year. Some people know that outside of cashing fight bonuses and being one of the most entertaining fighters the sport has ever seen, he is also a huge fan of video games. When you play games like Call Of Duty and threaten to beat up the guy who is shooting you constantly, consider that you might be talking to Lauzon (or Demetrious Johnson).
Outside of all of that fighting skill and video game obsession beats the heart of an untamable beast that has a degree in computer sciences and for awhile was a network administrator. Think about that next time you call the IT guy and make snide remarks about what you'll do to him if he doesn't get the internet back up and running.
4 Stipe Miocic - Firefighter
Just a few years ago, I was working at a bar in Chicago and a regular that often came in for lunch happened to grow up with Stipe and was asking me about his upcoming fight with Junior dos Santos. I said he had no chance. Little did I know that a few years later he would be the Heavyweight Champion of the world.
Stipe is a stud in real life and one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. With his giant booming laugh and positive demeanor, it's hard to believe that the best Heavyweight fighter in the world is also the guy who would come to your house to save your life if you called the fire department.
Stipe comes from the old school Eastern European mentality where you always work. Even with the UFC strap around his waist, he continues to work part time for the Cleveland Fire Department. I'm sure Dana White isn't a huge fan of this, as it's not exactly the safest career, but that won't deter Miocic.
Honorable mentions of other firemen include: Don Frye, Chris Lytle.
3 Houston Alexander - DJ / Graffiti Artist
Houston Alexander began as a completely unknown entity in the world of MMA. I remember watching his first fight against Keith Jardine and everyone thought that he had no chance. Little did anyone realize that in under a minute, he would blitz The Dean of Mean and viciously knock him out. After that, he failed to truly impress. Outside of being a flash in the pan in the UFC that once had a fight where he literally circled Kimbo Slice for 15 minutes, Houston Alexander is a DJ. The dude scratches records, where he's known as Strongarm, and is also famous in Nebraska under the name of Scrib, his name as a graffiti artist. I don't know if the real shocker here is that there's a large rap music scene in Nebraska or how fast he knocked out Jardine.
2 Those Who Have Served In The Military
This entry is a combination of fighters who served in the military, as I didn't want to leave any of them off the list. They fought for their country and while I can't make all of them Number 1, as that is reserved for a very special person, I wanted to make sure all of them were recognized here.
Liz Carmouche: Marines.
Tim Kennedy: Army Ranger.
Randy Couture: Army.
Brian Stann: Marines.
Colton Smith: Army Ranger.
Brandon Vera: Air Force.
Jorge Rivera: Army
Tim Credeur: Navy
Neil Magny: Illinois National Guard.
Andrew Todhunter : Army Sniper.
Jake Ellenberger - Marines.
We thank them for their service and if we missed any, it wasn't by choice.
1 Aaron Brink - Adult Star
Now, here is a guy that I think people should respect, as he kicked tail in the cage, he pounded tail on screen and he never really became that great at either of them because he was constantly divided between the two. Back in the early days, there wasn't a lot of money in MMA. But people fought because they loved it. Aaron Brink was fighting back in those days, scraping to get by, but someone told him, you're a good looking guy, why not make some money in adult films instead of as a bouncer/fighter/whatever. And thus, a star was born. Sadly, despite being a decent enough fighter, once he started making adult movies, his MMA career pretty much plummeted. With the loses piling up and his MMA career on the fritz, Aaron Brink decided to stop making jabs with his fist and focus on his other career. As Aaron Brink's MMA career faded, his alter ego, Dick Delaware, was born and that dude has been performing from 2003 until 2013.