It's safe to say that every fighter who is competing in mixed martial arts is there because he wants to be there.
Fighters love the competitive nature of the sport and want to test themselves against the best of the best, but an additional pressure gets added to many fighters' lives when they decide to train and fight full time.
It's the pressure of making the rent check, paying the car payment and making sure they are able to provide for their families. While many of the top stars in the UFC and some other promotions make the kind of money to live comfortably—even when injuries and other situations arise that force them to sit out for several months or even more than a year—dozens of fighters need to stay active to make it through financially.
That's a pressure that's beyond just making it to the UFC or fighting a top opponent. It's also something UFC featherweight Matt Grice never has to understand, and he's happy it doesn't weigh him down on a daily basis.
June was the last time Grice stepped foot in the Octagon, but the last eight months haven't been hard on him financially or mentally. When he's not fighting in the UFC, Grice is a full-time police officer in his home state of Oklahoma. That provides for his family in every way, so when he gets the call from the UFC, that's just about wanting to enjoy the thrill of the fight. Grice told Bleacher Report:
"I don't have to go out there four or five times a year and perform to feed my family. I have a steady job, I have a steady paycheck. I'm here fighting because I love it, I want to be there. I don’t have that where I have to do this. I don't have to fight somebody to go pay my bills. I do it because I love it and I think that's an advantage. I want to be there, I want to be in the cage."
Mentally, Grice believes it gives him a leg up on a great many fighters in the UFC because this isn't his primary focus 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When he's not fighting or scheduled to fight, he works in his job as a police officer and happily spends his spare time as a husband and father.
Grice absolutely loves to fight, but he's not hurting if a fight doesn't come his way every three months. If he fights twice a year because that's when the UFC can use him, Grice will happily keep that schedule.
"I take six months off and it's a time for me to relax. When I'm in training camp, it's a hard three months. I hardly see my family and it's just a grind for three months. After I have a fight, I like to relax and spend time with my kids," said Grice. "I definitely see it as an advantage."
Facing Dennis Bermudez at Saturday's UFC 157 card, Grice has had plenty of time to train and prepare, even though he keeps a full schedule with his police department. He's in the gym every day, working out and getting ready for the fight.
He admits there are times it gets tough because he misses his wife and children, but Grice knows the sacrifice pays off when he gets the thrill of stepping into the cage one more time.
"It gets tough sometimes between me and my wife we are gone a lot when I'm working and training, and I don't get to see my kids as much as I'd like, but it's something that my kids are used to. They go to the gym with me, it's just a sacrifice. It helps me stay grounded and on the path I need to take."
So when UFC 157 is over, Grice may not be seen again in the fight game for six months, but as soon as he gets the call, he'll start getting ready because he loves it and wants to fight—not because he has to fight.
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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