Twenty-four fights into a professional MMA career, Chad George simply had enough.
“When I stepped away from the game, I really got to a point where I hated everything about it,” George told MMAjunkie. “My body was hurting. I was starting to open up my own school. I was at a point in my relationship with my girlfriend at the time that we were planning on getting married, so I had all these things that were happening. It made sense for me to say, ‘You know what? I’m at that point in life where it’s time to step away.’”
That was 2015, and the three-time WEC veteran decided to call it a career – sort of.
“The truth of it was I still always had the passion for it,” George said. “So when I stepped away from fighting, I said, ‘You know what? I’m a competitor. I can’t just step away from competing. So I’m going to stop fighting MMA, and I’m going to pursue grappling at the highest levels.’
“I wanted to get my black belt in jiu-jitsu, which I was very close to at the time, and I wanted to compete against the best grapplers in the world. That was my goal that I set out to do.”
In the nearly three years that followed his final MMA bout, George has become a mainstay on the grappling circuit, competing in the world’s top competitions, including the Eddie Bravo Invitational – an organization that recently introduced a set of Combat Jiu-Jitsu rules that includes strikes on the ground.
George quickly claimed that new style’s inaugural bantamweight title, and he said the training was every bit as intense as it would be for an MMA contest.
“The fire started growing in me and just the desire to push myself to new limits, to compete, to constantly keep testing myself, to grow, it just kept getting bigger and bigger,” George said.
On Saturday night, two years and nine months after what he assumed would be his final fight, George (16-8 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) returns to the cage to face James Barnes (9-2 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) on the MMAjunkie-streamed preliminary card of Bellator 192, which takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., preceding the evening’s Paramount-broadcast main card.
George believes he returns to MMA in a far different place than when he left it. His academy, California Mixed Martial Arts, is up and running. The girlfriend, who he said started to become a toxic distraction, is gone. So, too, are a load of lingering injuries.
“All the stress in my life is gone, and my body is healed,” George said. “I’m loving everything about the sport again, and it’s the first time in years I’ve been able to say that.”
At 35, George isn’t sure what the future holds. He’s wise enough to know there simply are no guarantees in MMA. But he does have Saturday night, and for now that’s enough.
“I want to fight, and I want to test myself against some of the best guys in the world, and the opportunity is right here,” George said. “So if we do 20 more fights or one more fight, I have no idea. I just know that we’re going to go in there on Saturday night physically feeling better than I have my entire carer.
“It has been a while, but it’s not like I haven’t been busy. I’ve been so busy since the last time I fought. It’s been an amazing journey. It’s been a wild ride, and man, we’re ready to rock Saturday night.”
- Bellator champ Douglas Lima, Rory MacDonald gunning for world No. 1 status at welterweight
- 'Rampage' Jackson appears to be in great shape for Bellator 192
- 'Rampage' Jackson promises big improvements after big sacrifice (he went cold turkey on ketchup)
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Can a three-year layoff from MMA be a good thing? Bellator 192's Chad George excited to find out