Unlikely Origins: Before They Became MMA Fighters


It’s difficult to imagine that some of our favorite MMA fighters did anything other than fight. Just like us (well kind of like us), they are regular men and women that needed to make a living before they found their calling, fighting in the ring.

While we’d love to think that every MMA fighter was born kicking and blocking since childhood, not every fighter started training early. Here’s what some MMA fighters were doing prior to winning championships:

Olivier Busquet

Olivier Busquet knows a lot about taking risks and is used to winning. In April of 2016, he won his first MMA fight against a Mexican poker player against JC Alvarado. Alvarado, a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, offered to go against Busquet after Busquet went on Twitter, basically asking for a fight.

Busquet, who is a professional poker player, put his poker strategies of skill and discipline to good use when won the fight against Alvarado fair and square. While it’s unknown if Busquet has any other fights in his future, keep your eyes on your Twitter feed.

Paige VanZant

UFC Strawweight fighter, Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant, hasn’t always been a fighter, but her dance background may be the secret behind her success during fights. VanZant, who grew up in Oregon, spent most of her childhood dancing, thanks to her parents owning a dance studio.

Although she was tagged as a tomboy and earned her nickname “12 Gauge,” VanZant also has a modeling background. VanZant had planned to continue her dancing career, but changed her interest when she was introduced to MMA.

Junior Dos Santos

Unlike other successful MMA fighters that had the chance to get involved in mixed martial arts at an early age, Dos Santos, a top ranking Heavyweight, wasn’t so lucky. Raised by a single mother in Brazil, Dos Santos was forced to grow up fast and had his first job by the time he was ten years old. He didn’t start training for MMA until he was 21 years old.

Conor McGregor

Not even 30 years old, McGregor has lived a full competitive life in the world of MMA. He’s competed as a featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight. While he had some sports experience (playing football) while growing up in Ireland, he had a brief career as a plumber before he started fighting.

Glover Teixeira

Teixeira knows a thing or two about hard work. Growing up in a rural part of Brazil, he had a career in agriculture (farming and landscaping) to help earn money for his family. It’s rumored that Teixeira worked twelve hour days and then would MMA train at night. Whatever he did, he did it right to earn a top ranking as a light heavyweight.

Although many of today’s top MMA fighters started learning their craft at a young age, life took others on an alternate path before they found their true calling. Sometimes hardships and manual labor can make the best fighters. Does your favorite fighter have an interesting past?