For many young people, it is a dream to become a celebrity. Whether it’s to become a famous musician, an athlete or even the President, most have high hopes of having their names plastered all over the country.
For young athletes in combat sports, the dream is to make it to the big stage of the UFC where they will fight in front of millions of fans worldwide. But like most of these dreams, very few ever get to see it come to fruition.
Minnesota MMA fighter Pat Schilling lived his dream of competing in the UFC in January when he fought Daniel Pineda in the Octagon at UFC on FX.
Schilling was not expecting to get the opportunity so quickly. The 23-year-old was caught off-guard when he received the phone call while working in his retail job at Best Buy.
Unfortunately, Schilling fell flat that night, submitting to Pineda in just 97 seconds. Octagon jitters might have gotten the best of him.
Schilling got another chance to prove himself in early June at The Ultimate Fighter 15 finale when he fought Max Holloway. Though he lasted to the final bell, the end result was the same as Schilling watched as his opponent’s hand was raised in the center of the Octagon after the fight.
With an 0-2 record in the UFC, Schilling knew that his name was potentially on the UFC chopping block. Though he showed tremendous heart in his loss to Holloway, Schilling was released by the UFC.
“I can't say I didn't see it coming, but you can see a punch in the face coming too and it still hurts,” Schilling told MNMMAnews.com’s Ben Pherson. “But I am not a dweller. Obviously, there is so much more positive to come from the overall experience than the negative of losing and getting cut. I consider myself incredibly lucky and grateful to Dana White, Sean Shelby and the UFC for the amazing opportunity.”
Schilling’s positive attitude is a nice change-of-pace from the sometimes hostile reactions that certain fighters have following their release.
“I can't say there was a bad part of the UFC experience,” he said. “I have no regrets. Still feels like a dream.”
A separated shoulder, which he sustained in the early minutes of the fight against Holloway, will keep Schilling out until November with a medical suspension. He admits to being anxious to get back to training, but is taking things one step at a time.
“Wounds are still a little fresh to make any big decisions,” Schilling said. “If I fight [in Minnesota] again, I hope it is against someone who will make it fun to watch for everyone.”