Freedom doesn't always come free.
Just ask former UFC lightweight Shamar Bailey (13-6).
"When I was coming out of high school, I didn't have a choice but to attend a Bible college," Bailey told Bleacher Report.
"I was raised in a good Christian home where my dad was a chemical engineer but a pastor as well. I decided I'd go to a Christian school and then transfer out after my freshman year," said Bailey.
It didn't matter that Bailey had already received a number of wrestling scholarships, as his fate had already been determined.
Without debate, Bailey was on his way to Maranatha Baptist Bible College located in the depths of Wisconsin.
To Bailey's surprise, his plans of transferring quickly took an unexpected turn as he began to fall in love with the small Christian atmosphere.
"My original plan was to get there and then transfer out to a larger Division I school. I developed a great relationship with my coach, who was a former Olympic gold medalist," said Bailey. "He quickly became more of a mentor and friend to me.
"He convinced me to stay for my sophomore year and I'm thankful I did. I eventually decided that I wanted to stay and finish out my degree."
Bailey's decision to remain in school ultimately led to bigger and better things.
Upon graduation, Bailey was set to train in the sport of mixed martial arts, as his coached expressed the importance of living his life to the fullest.
"My coach stressed to me the importance of using the talents God has given me to reach others and not just for my own personal gains," said Bailey. "He set me up with the opportunity to train at Olympic Training Center."
It's been a snowball effect since then as Bailey has teamed up with former UFC standouts Chris Lytle and Jake O'Brien to improve all aspects of his game.
However, as much help as Bailey has received along the way, he realizes none of it would be possible without God's guidance in his life.
"I grew up in a bubble where I thought if you honor God, God will honor you back. I went undefeated my senior year of high school the whole season and I thought that was because I was honoring God," said Bailey. "I would lose in the first round of states and I just couldn't understand why."
"As I grew older I realized success is measured by God's definition not by man's definition. That could be in the form of wins or by being a positive impact on others lives. This sport challenges me to be more like Christ and to love like He did," said Bailey. "I admire Him all the more to see what He had to go through while He was on the earth."
As Bailey continues to progress in life, he has one goal in mind: to be different.
"People will notice a difference in your life. They'll hold you to a higher standard and they're always looking for you to slip up," said Bailey. "I think that's why we as Christian athletes get that kind of criticism."
"If you're going to give God the glory after a win then you better after your losses too."
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