As a spectator of an MMA fight, you’re always well aware of the gym hours, the rigorous conditioning schedule, the strict diet, not to mention the time it takes to become proficient in every phase of fighting. But a fight rarely looks like “work” in the mundane sense of the word. Even when it’s tedious — say, during long stretches when one guy is leaning on his opponent against the cage — fighters don’t seem to be passionlessly “on the job.”
Chris Camozzi (a middleweight alumnus of The Ultimate Fighter who faces Nick Ring on the upcoming UFC 158) is similar to most other elite-level fighters in that he does what he does for the love of it. It’s the same admirable spirit that perpetuates any form of the arts, really. In fact, the whole card of UFC 158 (or the whole UFC for that matter) is full of guys who might otherwise be in working-class jobs, all the way up to headliners Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz. We spoke with Chris briefly about how much better being it is being a fighter than working for a living.
Fightland: You’ve mentioned before that you’ve “had every crappy job you could think of.” What were some of them?
Chris Camozzi: Before I started full-time fighting I was just bouncing. It wasn’t a terrible job, but dealing with drunk people when you’re dead sober and tired from training camps and stuff, it gets a little grueling. I stocked a warehouse for a while. That has to be one of the worst jobs I’ve had, you know? Lifting heavy stuff all day, stacking boxes in a building with no windows, it’s just repetitive and mind-numbing.
Do you have any interesting bouncing stories?
I worked in a club in downtown Denver. I threw this guy out of the club for multiple reasons -- mostly being a bad guy; he was pretty drunk. So this guy’s cussing at me out front for a while. Eventually he walks off; we think it’s over. Well, about 10 minutes later I’m standing in front of the club, and I see this guy that I’d kicked out driving a Bobcat [tractor] down the street — and this is in the middle of the city. I see him going down the street with a cop car behind him going five miles an hour, with another cop walking beside him banging on the cage with a billy club because he’d locked himself in there. He had gone to a construction site just a little bit up the street and someone had left the keys in this Bobcat. So this drunk guy is driving down the street in this Bobcat. He ends up running over some parking meters and stuff; the cops are still bashing on the cage. Finally he surrenders and agrees to open it. When he came out, he was standing right in front of me laughing hysterically, and all he has to say is “Man, my wife is going to be pissed.”
How do you like you job now as a UFC fighter?
As cliché as it sounds, it’s a dream come true for me. I can’t even imagine doing anything else right now. I basically get paid do to something I love, that I did for free as an amateur. To make the kind of money that the UFC pays me to do something I love, day in and day out, to essentially get paid to go to the gym and work out, and to stay healthy -- you can’t ask for anything better than that.
I can’t imagine sitting in an office or sitting at a desk, or on a phone or a computer all day. That’s just not the kind of person I am. I also can’t imagine doing construction all day either.
You won your preliminary fight on The Ultimate Fighter reality show but had to leave the house shortly after because your jaw was broken in that fight. Did you know your jaw was broken during the fight?
I had an idea. I didn’t know it was broken, but I knew something was a little off. I thought I had broken one of my teeth or something like that. But something felt off. But the excitement and joy of winning that fight and making it into the house on The Ultimate Fighter kind of superseded the pain.
So would you say that getting your jaw broken is more fun for you than stocking a factory?
Oh absolutely, I would do it again.