10 former MMA stars who have surprisingly normal jobs
The MMA profession can be increasingly profitable, especially when performing at the highest level and headlining PPV main events. MMA is often the culmination of a lifetime worth of work trying to perfect your art and how to dominate others inside the confined area of the octagon.
Fighters have to go through a lifetime of learning and developing their skills but only end up with a small window where they are at their peak physical and mental condition as they are unable to keep up with the younger generations after their peak. Of course, there are always exceptions to this, for example, Dan Severn managed to come out of his MMA career with a total of 127 professional fights, but of course, these fighters don’t come often.
So, what is there for MMA fighters to do after their career has inevitably ended? Well, there are some fighters like Dan Hardy and Duane Ludwig who have gone into coaching or MMA journalism and media, but many others have also gone onto live regular lives with regular jobs. There is nothing wrong with this, and there are some MMA fighters who have gone onto earn more financially after their MMA career than during it.
Mike Russow – Police officer
Mike Russow is one of few fighters who have managed to juggle their public service jobs with their MMA career, one other is Stipe Miocic who is currently the UFC heavyweight champion while also working as a firefighter in the US.
Mike Russow worked as a police officer back in the early 2010s. He did this along with maintaining his MMA career at the highest level when he was catapulted into stardom. Mike fought on the PPV UFC 114 card against Todd Duffee, who was one of the most highly anticipated fighters in the world at the time.
Going into the fight, the difference was astonishing with Duffee looking like a chiselled statue and Russow looking less aesthetically pleasing and the less fit-out of the two. Despite this, Russow went onto finish the fight in the third round with one of the deadliest follow-up strikes in MMA history after knocking down the up and comer. Since then, Russow has gone onto retire from his MMA career and continue his career as a Police officer.
Dustin Hazelett – Paramedic
Dustin Hazelett was a fighter who competed with some of the most decorated UFC fighters in the history of MMA, but he only started his career at 18 years old when he had his first professional fight. At this age, many people are just starting their career but Dustin had been training his whole life for this moment and wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip by. Hazelett went on to win the bout on decision although being a close fight and signed his first UFC contract in 2006 at the age of 20.
Hazelett went on to make his first professional fight with the UFC against Tony DeSouza, who won through submission. Dustin went onto have 10 UFC fights with a record of 5 wins and 5 losses, the most notable being a submission win against Josh Burkman using the step over armbar move. Dustin’s submission wins over Josh Burkman and Tamdan McCrory earned him over $60,000 in a fight of the night bonuses, but he then went onto retire and devote his life to becoming a paramedic in West Virginia.
Shane Carwin – Engineer
Shane Carwin is one of the few fighters on this list that continued with their regular employment throughout their whole UFC career. During his 6 year tenure in the UFC, Carwin was one of the most feared men in the business with his phenomenal knock out power and solid boxing technique, and this was justified when he took the UFC interim heavyweight championship from Frank Mir in 2010.
Until his penultimate fight, Shane Carwin had never fought to leave the first round with 12 first-round stoppage and knockout wins. After his fight with Frank Mir, Shane went onto fight Brock Lesnar in an attempt to unify the heavyweight division but was stopped by Lesnar in the 2nd round due to submission and lost his following fight. Carwin then decided to retire from the business after struggling with injuries in the training and the leadup to fights.
Carwin now serves as an engineer in Texas but has recently stated in an interview that his injuries have healed, and he holds a personal desire to make a return to MMA. Despite recent negotiations with Bellator and RIZIN, Carwin is yet to return to the sport.
TJ Grant – Civil Construction
Commonly in MMA, fighters happen to stay in the sport for too long and ultimately ruin their record and sometimes their reputation by going on a lengthy losing streak. However, it is less common that fighters retire while on a winning run, but this is exactly what happened with TJ Grant.
TJ Grant was going through what was debatably the best period in his career, he was on a 5-fight winning streak and was on the cusp of a title chance when he was forced to retire. TJ had just fought and finished an experienced Gray Maynard to earn himself a title fight against the then champion Ben Henderson. Not all went as planned though when TJ suffered from a concussion during training for the fight and was forced to retire from the UFC. Anthony Pettis proceeded to take his place in the title fight and went on to beat Ben Henderson with a first-round submission victory.
TJ would go onto return to his native country of Canada and become a civil construction worker and would go onto build potash mines.
Tim Sylvia – Project manager
During the mid-2000s, Tim Sylvia was one of the most feared men in the sport of MMA with one of the best jabs in the history of the heavyweight division and standing at a staggering 6 foot and 8 inches. Sylvia used these features to his advantage, racking up several big wins on his way to UFC Heavyweight glory, where he held the Heavyweight belt twice.
Sylvia would then leave the UFC rota to secure a super fight with the best pound for pound fighter worldwide at the time, Fedor Emelianenko, who ultimately beat him in the fight with a first-round submission. Sylvia then went onto continue his fight career outside the UFC with mixed success until his retirement in 2015.
Since his retirement, Sylvia has had several different jobs, such as police officer, assistant coach for a wrestling team, and the host of the US show Hit Squad but has most recently he became a project manager at a roofing company in Illinois.
Mark Kerr – Car Salesman
Mark Karr was one of the original UFC fighters and was seen as a new wave of fighters when steamrolling his way through 2 1-night UFC tournaments, and the critics and fans were not wrong.
Most of the original wave of MMA fighters relied solely on either skill or strength, but Kerr had a terrifying mix of both and along with his extreme athleticism, Kerr disrupted the whole of the UFC. Kerr had a background in NCAA 1 Wrestling and this resulted in him becoming a phenomenon for UFC fans and MMA fans alike.
Kerr went onto leave the UFC and continue his fight career in 2000 when he was the clear favourite to win the PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix. All did not go as planned though when Kerr suffered a surprise loss to Kazuyuki Fujita resulting in demise in his career. After losing 10 of his following 13 fights, Kerr called it a day and hung up his gloves but went onto fight more battles in his personal life with painkillers, performance-enhancing drugs, and a volatile relationship with his then-girlfriend. All of his struggles were portrayed in the classic documentary ‘The Smashing Machine’ which is set to become a movie with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson set to play the fighter.
After his retirement, Kerr went onto get his real estate licence and became a car salesman, but also managed to get himself sober.
Igor Vovchanchyn – Restaurateur
Igor Vovchanchyn was a name that fired fear into the heart of his challengers during his tenure in the UFC, despite the fact he stood at just 5 foot 8 inches he still fought in the heavyweight division. The Ukrainian native had incredible knockout power and was known for planting his opponent’s face down on the canvas.
Igor was well known across Europe as a pioneer of the sport and often competed in multiple fights in the same night with little to no rules in the fights. Despite this, Igor somehow managed to rack up an incredible amateur record of 31-2 before making his debut in the PRIDE competition.
Igor retired from the sport in 2005 and somehow managed to rack up an astonishing 41 knockouts from his 56 wins, the second most knockout wins in the history of MMA. After calling time on his career, possibly the deadliest fighter on the planet went on to open a restaurant in his home country.
Pete Williams – Chef
Pete Williams is a veteran in the UFC and MMA profession and is most likely well known for knocking out Mark Coleman with a head kick at UFC 17, or maybe it is for the brutal shoulder lock he received from a young Frank Mir. Either way, most diehard UFC fans will know who he is.
The now 44-year-old had a record of 8 wins and 5 losses before deciding to retire from the sport early and go back to school to follow his true passion, cooking. Pete has since become a chef and works in a kitchen where most customers will probably be scared to send the food back.
Joe Lauzon – Network administrator
Joe Lauzon is a well-known figure in the UFC for being one of the most entertaining fighters in the history of the sport. Joe was once the record holder for the most post-fight bonuses with 6 Fight of the Night awards, 6 submissions of the night awards, 1 knockout of the night award, and a performance of the night award, but has now been matched by Nate Diaz and overtaken by Donald Cerone.
Lauzon also won the award for the fight of the year in 2012 for his bout against Jim Miller. Throughout the fight, it was clear that this was going to be one to remember either way as Miller unloaded on Joe and opened up huge cuts across his face. Many thought the fight was going to be over after the first round with a knockout of the night award expected to go to Miller, but Joe came back with a superb performance managing to take down Miller and earn himself a few points on the scorecard. At the end of the fight, Miller’s hand was rightfully raised but Lauzon put up a valiant effort earning himself the fight of the year award and a vast array of new fans.
Joe Lauzon is still fighting in the UFC to this day, but we would imagine when the 36-year-old does retire he would return to his former career as a network administrator where he spent a few years working before his MMA career took off.
Cole Konrad – Broker
Cole Konrad was once thought to be one of the best heavyweight prodigies in the sport and was a handful for any fighter in the 265 division. Konrad had previous experience in wrestling with two NCAA Division 1 wrestling championships and was also a decorated amateur wrestler at the University of Minnesota.
With all of this experience, Konrad transferred his skills to MMA and was invited to train at Brock Lesnar’s team gym, Death Clutch, alongside heavyweight talents Pat Barry and Joe Madsen.
Cole went onto make his Bellator debut and capture the Bellator Heavyweight Champion title in the same year after just 7 fights. After only 18 months of being champion and 2 fights defending the title, Konrad unexpectedly announced his retirement from the sport, and his title was vacated.
Konrad had later revealed that he retired from the sport because of the financial uncertainty in MMA as a lower level fighter and has now become a licenced agricultural commodities broker to earn a regular and secure wage to support his family.
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