The world of MMA is full of challenges for aspiring fighters and it requires you to be in peak physical and mental condition to stand a chance. Even the slightest injury could have devastating effects on a potential fighters career, right? Wrong, MMA is about heart, this is the story of five people who have overcome obstacles that would have stifled the average man from succeeding at basic tasks. Not these men though, they have so much heart that they have proven that the only true disability is a lack of will and a propensity to make excuses.
5. Minotauro Nogueira
Overcame: Losing his liver and a rib after being run over by a truck
Antonio Nogueira is sometimes referred to as “Big Nog” being the bigger of the two Nogueira brothers but he also deserves his nickname because he has one of the biggest hearts in MMA. Everything seemed promising for “Big Nog”, he was born in Brazil, which was the birthplace of BJJ and started training Judo at a mere four years old.However when he was ten years old tragedy struck. Antonio was run over by a truck, it was an accident that would’ve killed most people but not Big Nog. He was in a coma for four days and he lost a rib and part of his liver (which is the reason for the trademark scar you see on his back). He would then go on to fight in and excel in the King of Kings tournaments (with big names like Dan Henderson and Renato Sobral). He was a fighter people loved to watch because he would never lose heart. He took beatings from guys like Tim Sylvia (he won by Guillotine in the last round), Bob Sapp (who outweighed him by 150 lbs) , and managed to defeat Mirko Cro Cop in his prime. 22 years ago Big Nog should have died instead he fought for his life and then fought some of the best fighters in the world and won.
4. Matt Betzold
Overcame: Leg amputation
Matt’s condition arose after ingesting a piece of candy contaminated with poisonous mushroom spores that had meant to have been used as a weapon against his father. When he awoke from a six week coma, he did so without his left leg. Anyone that watched Urjiah Faber get his leg obliterated by Jose Aldo knows how effective hurting someones leg can be in a fight. Matt comes into every fight with that disadvantage but has gone on to win 3 fights in his professional MMA career.
3. Kyle Maynard
Overcame: Congenital amputation of legs and arms
Our next fighter on the list makes even the last guy on our list struggles look petty. If most people lost both their arms and legs they wouldn’t do much more than throw the worlds largest pity party but Kyle Maynard never wanted anyones sympathy. He started wrestling in high school where he won 36 matches and placed 12th in his weight class. Then he went on to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, something incredibly difficult even for an able bodied human being . He lost his first fight in Alabama (where MMA is unregulated) by decision but the fact that he couldn’t be finished in three rounds is incredible. This guy truly proves that the only thing keeping anyone from success is the excuses they make.
2. Garret (G-money) Holeve
Overcame: Down Syndrome
A lot of people are beginning to understand that MMA isn’t all brute strength and that the mental game is incredibly important, from watching film before fights to the chess game that grappling can be, fights are often won and lost in the mind. You would think that a guy born with down syndrome would never attempt to make his way into a gym and much less to compete but Garret Holeve is no ordinary man. He is here to shatter your preconceived notions about what is and what is not possible. Although he may never fight as a pro, he has gone on to fight as an amateur whereas many people who go to gyms every week will never compete on any level. One thing is certain, while Garret may not have a genius IQ he can definitely teach us all a little something about determination and perseverance.
1. Nick Newell
Overcame: Congenital amputation of his left forearm
I’ve given a lot of credit to some of these guys just for getting into the MMA scene or winning a few fights but Nick Newell didn’t just get to the main stage, he dominates it. As of August 2013 he remains undefeated. His biggest struggle was finding fighters willing to meet him in the octagon because they didn’t consider him a real fighter, well now that he has destroyed the competition and stands as the XFC lightweight champion there’s no doubting it. Nick Newell is a force to be reckoned with.