In this blog I want to talk about a person that has influenced my MMA career thus far, this person has taught me a lot and he’s not one of my coaches, he’s not one of my training partners, as a matter of fact he’s not even involved in MMA besides watching it on TV.
That person is my older brother Herculez. I have to give you a quick rundown on his life for you to understand why I admire him so much.
Herc is 29-years-old and I’m 28-years-old so we are a little over 13 months apart. Yes I know my parents got down to business pretty quick.
Now my brother doesn’t train in any form of martial arts, all he does is play soccer and might I add he’s very good at playing soccer.
My brother pretty much played soccer his whole life; he started kicking the soccer ball around at the age of two. By his freshman year of high school he was already on the varsity squad and he played with them for all four years.
I wasn’t that good so I played the junior varsity squad and later ended up giving up on soccer all together.
I never had dreams of playing soccer in the “big leagues”. To me soccer was just a way to have fun and hang out with my friends. At that point in time I was really into lifting weights and I obviously liked the UFC.
My brother, on the other hand, had different things in mind; all he thought about and dreamed of was playing soccer and playing in the World Cup. At the age of 18 he moved out of our parent’s house and headed to Mexico to try his luck there.
That’s one of the first things that I learned from him; in order to achieve your dreams you’re going to have to take chances and give yourself the best possible opportunity that you can.
In Mexico he would find out if he had what it takes to become a professional soccer player. He wouldn’t have the regret of thinking “what if I did this or that” or watching TV thinking “if I went for it that could have been me”. In Mexico he would know first-hand if he belonged or not.
Well Mexico didn’t turn out too well for him there, he got traded to a few different teams and the playing time was scarce for him there. He made the decision to leave Mexico to move back to the U.S. and try his luck stateside. He finally got his big break by getting signed to the L.A. Galaxy, the most popular team in the MLS.
He got signed by them and played a total of five minutes the whole season. Five minutes! That’s not even enough time to break a sweat. After the season ended his coach Sigi Schmid told him that he should probably quit soccer and focus on something else.
It’s one thing to read it online from random strangers but it’s another thing to hear it first hand from one of your coaches. This was the next lesson that he taught me; no matter how many people doubt you and your skills, you should never doubt yourself.
He ended up getting released and he played in the minor leagues for a little while perfecting his craft. He made it back to MLS and back to the Galaxy but this time Sigi wasn’t there anymore.
In 2005 he helped his team win the MLS Cup and the Lamar Cup in the same year. Not too long after that he got traded from one team to the next and had not so great seasons for various reasons.
Sometimes he got injured, sometimes they would play him as midfield instead of his natural position as a forward. Regardless of the reasons he ended up getting released by the Kansas City Wizards, they basically decided not to renew his contract and he was left out in the dust.
At this time in his life he’s been trying to make it as a professional for 10 years and no one would have looked down upon him if he called it quits. I mean he did earn not one, but two MLS rings and he did play two games for the US National team back in 2007.
For most people that would be considered a successful career but my brother had other things in mind. He knew that he still had lots of years playing soccer in him and he ended up going right back to where it all started, he headed back to Mexico. This was the next thing that he taught me; never give up on your dreams.
In Mexico everything seemed to click for him, maybe because his back was against the wall and he felt this was his last shot, maybe because he was finally injury free for once, or maybe because he was playing in his natural position as a forward and not a midfield.
Whatever the reason, he caught fire and never looked back. He ended up becoming the first American to win the scoring title in a foreign league. He also caught the attention of then National Team Coach Bob Bradley. Coach Bradley invited my brother to play in a few friendlies before the World Cup started.
Basically this was a tryout for the World Cup team. You start with 30 players and you have to narrow your team down to 23 before the World Cup starts.
They gave Herc his jersey before the first game and it had the number 30 on the back of it. Maybe it was just sheer luck or maybe they did feel that he was a long shot to make the team and they had 29 other guys in front of him, who knows.
All Herc knew was that six months ago no one knew who he was, he wasn’t considered good enough to play for the Kansas City Wizards, he wasn’t good enough to play for Sigi and here was his chance to prove all his critics wrong.
He ended up playing in that game and scoring a goal during the game, probably the most important goal in his career at that point. That goal got him on the final 23 roster team and he was on a plane on his way to South Africa to represent the USA in the World Cup.
This was another thing my brother taught me, when opportunity comes you better be ready and take advantage of it. My brother isn’t the biggest athlete or the fastest or the most technical but he is one of the hardest working athletes that I know.
Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard, that motto reminds me of my brother.
“The Ulysses Gomez Experiment” is a weekly ProMMAnow.com blog series written by world top 10 ranked flyweight Ulysses Gomez as he prepares for his Dec. 2 fight at Tachi Palace Fights 11. “The Ulysses Gomez Experiment” is part of our ongoing series of exclusive content written by individuals involved in the mixed martial arts industry.