Brent Primus was kicked out of his home when he was 13. For years, he bounced around, picking berries, selling rugs, mopping convenience store floors to make money.
Then, one day, he found his calling: lawn care.
“I climbed trees to delimb, I edged, I mowed, I fertilized,” Primus recalled. “I’d unload people’s groceries for them. Whatever my client needed, that’s what I did. … I loved the satisfaction of my clients saying I did a good job.”
Although Primus began as just an employee, the boss took such a shine to him that, when said boss had to suddenly move to California for a family situation, he pulled Primus aside.
“He said, ‘Get a loan, and I’ll sell you the business,’” Primus recalled.
So that’s what he did.
For about four years, Primus and company saw to the landscaping needs of customers in Eugene, Oregon, and outlying areas. From six in the morning until after sunset, Primus was in somebody’s yard. It was hard work, but it was good work. It was fun work. The young man with the mean streak, who had clashed at a young age with his family, had made good.
Oh, but there was just this one little thing.
“I saw the first couple of UFCs, and I thought it was crazy,” Primus recalled. “I used to get into fights here and there. My buddy said, ‘Dude, if you’re going to beat people up, you might as well get paid for it.’ I thought, what the hell.”
The long hours of landscaping were taking a bit of a toll, and his competitive itch—honed during his days at Sheldon High School in Eugene, where he helped his soccer team win a state title—was not going away.
So he made a bold decision. He abandoned the security and relative comfort of the business he owned, selling it off one client, one weed trimmer at a time.
“I didn’t want to give up my business,” Primus said. “But I love to compete and challenge myself.”
When he signed up for jiu-jitsu classes, it was ducks to water, even more so than with lawn care. He earned his black belt in only six years. Now, the 30-year-old Primus (5-0) is a lightweight prospect with Bellator. With four submission wins to his name, he’ll try to extend his undefeated record Friday at Bellator 141 against another prospect in Derek Anderson.
“I took to it so fast,” Primus said of MMA. “The second I walked into the gym, I knew, man. I got subbed by everybody, but I knew I was stronger. I wanted to learn what they knew.”
Now squarely pursuing what he says is his true calling, Primus wants to not only defeat Anderson Friday, but also show he continues to evolve, beyond a pure submission specialist and beyond the guy who walked away from a comfortable life to pursue something decidedly less comfortable, in the name of something fairly intangible.
These days, he lives on the little bits of money he saved from the business, as well as what he earns from jiu-jitsu instruction. He drives two hours each way four or five days a week from Eugene to Portland to train with Pat Healy, Rick Story and others at Rose City FC. And he’s happier than he’s ever been.
“MMA saved me, 100 percent,” Primus said. “I don’t mess around in the cage too much. People are going to see that.”
The Beaten Path is Bleacher Report's series on top MMA prospects. For the previous interview in the series, click here. Scott Harris covers MMA prospects and more for Bleacher Report. For more, follow Scott on Twitter. All quotes obtained firsthand.