5 UFC stars who worked regular jobs

UFC 220: Miocic v Ngannou
UFC 220: Miocic v Ngannou
John Cunningham

The top brass of the UFC’s esteemed fighting roster often make a fortune in the octagon. The lower tiers, however, often have to make up for lost funds from training. The result is having to balance the harsh, long hours of training required for fighting with the harsh, long hours grinding of a full time job.

Balancing the two can be grueling and many fighters appear to be beyond chuffed when they finally make enough from MMA to quit everything else. There are other times, however, where a fighter has taken great pride and joy in their work beyond the cage. Even when they reach great heights in the sport, they curiously have another professional gig still running on the resume.

Last but not least, there are those who take long lay-offs from the sport and discover new ventures and interests during their downtime.

With all of this in mind, here are five UFC fighters who have worked regular jobs over the years:

#5. Former UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta

UFC lightweight veteran Al Iaquinta has wound up making a living and a killing off his ventures outside of the octagon. Iaquinta has not fought since his UFC 243 decision loss to Dan Hooker in October 2019.

In that time, Iaquinta has greatly enhanced his side gig as a real estate agent. The ‘Raging’ TUF alumni first began the process of acquiring a realtor’s license in 2016. He was initially set to face Thiago Alves at UFC 205, the promotion’s first ever show in Madison Square Garden and New York as a whole. Due to an issue regarding the contract, Iaquinta pulled out of the fight and was replaced by Jim Miller.

As a fighter, his record currently stands at 14-6-1. The biggest fight of his career came against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. On account of Conor McGregor’s lengthy absence from the octagon at the time, the UFC lightweight strap was vacated and put up for grabs at UFC 223.

Due to not quite making weight (a mere 0.2lbs over the limit), Iaquinta was frustratingly ineligible to win the title. Ultimately, this set back was irrelevant as he was dominated for all five rounds by ‘The Eagle’. He now focuses on real estate full-time.

#4. Current UFC welterweight Geoff Neal

Geoff Neal’s almost got a superhero situation going on with his regular job by day as a server and his brutal job as a UFC warrior by night. The knockout artist worked at a Texas Roadhouse in Dallas for more than 10 years as he broke into the fighting game.

Following his UFC 245 KO victory over Mike Perry, the rising star ran into a spot of bother. Throughout 2020, he struggled to secure another fight with the promotion. As a result, Neal ultimately had to return to his full-time working lifestyle to pay the bills. At number 10 in the welterweight rankings, Neal’s fledgling octagon career was fast becoming a painful case of being so close and yet so far.

Just over a year after UFC 245, Neal finally returned to the octagon for a clash with Stephen Thompson. Despite a valiant effort, Neal lost the grueling five-round war via unanimous decision.

He suffered a similar result against Neil Magny in May this year as well. Neal also suffered from kidney issues last year, the complications of which he believes have hindered his more recent performances. If ‘Handz of Steel’ ever wants to crack the coveted top five and be able to commit to fighting full time again, he needs to win his next fight. When exactly that fight will be is, sadly, anyone’s guess.

#3. Current UFC light heavyweight Dominick Reyes

If one goes on to Linkedin, Dominick Reyes is listed as a UFC Athlete/Freelance Web Developer. Giving Jon Jones one of the toughest, most debatable-end result fights of his career does not come up on the CV however.

The UFC light heavyweight tough guy has spent a lot of time as one half of the IT support team at Oak Hills High School in Southern California. He began the post in July 2016 after almost 8 years as a web developer.

‘The Devastator’ has been fighting professionally since 2014. Heading into his UFC 247 light heavyweight title clash with ‘Bones’ Jones, Reyes was undefeated at 12-0. Visibly frustrated with his controversial unanimous decision defeat, Reyes hasn’t been quite the same in the octagon since.

He fell to Jan Blachowicz via second-round TKO for the then-vacant light heavyweight strap at UFC 253. In his most recent fight, the southpaw warrior was rocked by Jiri Prochazka’s spinning back elbow in May this year.

Reyes is still young and athletic enough to reset and get back to his winning ways. Until then, he always has his diverse range of tech and web experience to fall back on.

#2. Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks

‘Bigg Rigg’ was one of the largest, most brutal welterweight fighters of his generation. He came agonizingly close to securing welterweight gold against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167 in November 2013. He later enjoyed a 2014 run with the title after GSP vacated it.

In the years after, Hendricks’ once sterling win/loss record took a tumble with him eating defeat in six of his last five bouts. The man himself blamed the USADA ban on IVs for post-weight cut rehydration as the reason for his declining performances in the octagon.

Hendricks has since moved on to a more conventional work life as a high school wrestling coach. The notoriously hard-hitting former welterweight champion has also led combat training programs for armed forces and police officers.

Last but not least, the All Saints High School teacher opened his own gym in 2018 called Bigg Rigg Fight Club. Needless to say, Hendricks’ transition into the coaching side of the fighting world has kept him plentifully busy since his June 2018 retirement announcement.

#1. Former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic

Arguably the greatest UFC (and MMA as a whole) heavyweight fighter ever still works as a firefighter and paramedic to this day. The pride of Cleveland plies his trade with the Valley View Fire Department in Ohio and frequently works exhaustingly long shifts during his time away from the octagon.

The record holder for the most successful consecutive defenses of the UFC heavyweight strap (3) has answered near a thousand calls to action for the department. As a paramedic, Miocic performs a multitude of high-intensity, life-saving tasks such as resuscitation and setting broken bones.

The two-time heavyweight kingpin has confirmed more than once that he is likely to move into this field full time when he retires from fighting. After winning a truly epic trilogy with Daniel Cormier, Miocic dropped the strap to Francis Ngannou earlier this year at UFC 260.

It is unknown when Miocic will be making his return to the octagon. Needless to say, he’ll be keeping much busier than most during his lay-off period, much to the benefit of those in need in the Cleveland area.

Edited by John Cunningham


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