Tamdan McCrory: Everything Happens for a Reason

Screenshot_3 Mixed martial arts is a rocky road from beginning to end. A fighter's career can be plagued with injuries and other setbacks that never allow them to reach their full potential. Severe injuries can take a toll on a fighter's performance if they return, or even cause a fighter to retire. The waiting game is exactly what UFC middleweight Tamdan McCrory had to play when he was forced to sit on the sidelines for over six years due to several devastating injuries. He wasn't able to remain healthy without getting hurt again, and this happened for years. "The goal was never to retire -- everyone said I retired, but I never really retired. I never really intended on taking a break, just life threw me some circumstances," McCrory told MMAjr.co. "I got involved with some things that took my life away from training. Ultimately, I had a few injuries and slight mishaps that occured that kind of derailed my momentum. Life's full of adversity, so even though it took me a hell of a lot longer than I wanted to, I just kept pushing through. "I had a car accident where I had an injury and I had surgery that put me out for almost a year from doing anything. I've had a lot of bad luck. I got into the car accident on April Fool's Day and then I had the surgery as a result of the injury on Friday, September 13th. You know what I'm saying? Can you make it any worse? How do you explain that!" McCrory was finally ready to return to mixed martial arts competition last year and signed with Bellator MMA. In his promotional debut, he picked up a first-round TKO over Brennan Ward and followed that up with a first-round submission over Jason Butcher. And according to him, he proved lots of fans wrong. "When I came back and I was fighting in Bellator, everybody said I was gonna get my ass beat by Brennan Ward, and look what happened," he said. "Butcher, people were like 'I don't know man, this guy's the arm collector,' and then I took home his arm with me. All these guys look great and then they fight me and they don't look like nothing." After two impressive wins, UFC matchmakers had no problem with re-signing The Barn Cat, who returns to the Octagon later this month. "I was in some contract negotiations with Bellator, and I knew they had their own agenda, and I had mine. I got my release from Bellator, sent it to Joe Silva that night, and two days later I got my contract," he said. "So it wasn't really a huge waiting period. I knew where I wanted to be, I said originally when I came back to fighting I intended to be back in the UFC, and it just so happens I'm headed in the direction of my dominant thoughts, and here we are." Fighting UFC competition for the first time since 2009, what can we expect from him? Tamdan McCrory 2.0, apparently. "You're going to expect what you saw in my two last previous fights. It's '2.0' or whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, you can do other training and have all the equipment, you can have all the sports specialists in the world, but all that matters is the 15 minutes you're locked in there and who's about to impose their will and who's not. I wouldn't go in to a fight if I didn't intend on establishing my pace and what I have to offer. You gotta tune in and watch me knock some noggins." The UFC receives a lot of criticism, and the number of fighters wanting out of their contracts to test free agency has been going up rapidly, as well. McCrory looks at the UFC differently, though. "People can say whatever they want about the UFC, it's still the number one place to be," he said. "People want to cry about the NFL, but nobody is going to try to get a job with the CFL or play overseas. If you want to be in the big show and fight with the biggest promotion and best fighters, that's where you're going to go." The UFC's criticism peaked when the Reebok deal went into effect in July. So far the deal has just been one big problem -- from spelling fighters' names incorrectly on shirts to getting a fighter's nationality wrong to getting the colors of a country's flag wrong. However, the actual product isn't the only issue -- lots of fighters have publicly stated that they have been losing money because of the Reebok deal. "I don't really have a huge problem with the Reebok deal; I'm excited to make free money to wear a uniform. I never really had many sponsors. I do have people that do support me, but these guys are talking about getting six figures and fighting for sponsorships. Where were those people, and where are those people now? The market shows you're not getting that type of money anymore," he said. "I used to get sponsored for dumb money when I was in the UFC during my first stint, and most of those companies aren't even around even more. If their thought of returning their investment was to slap stickers on fighters' asses, and expect to recoup that in sales, obviously we see what the market shows, and it's not a good strategy. Will it be a good strategy for Reebok? I don't know, we'll see, down the line. I can't imagine with their payroll even spending $100,000 a fight, that's a lot of Fighter Kits you gotta sell to make that type of money back. I'm coming back six fights in, I should be getting five grand from Reebok to wear their stuff. For me, I'm like whatever man, I don't have to chase down money, I don't have to make phone calls, I don't have to deal with BS. I'm just getting straight cash and I'm getting a uniform. "At the end of the day, if you're a fighter, your job is to fight. If you want to be a billboard, go somewhere else to be a billboard. You are there to fight, you are a fighter. You're not a billboard. If you're a billboard, cry about your sponsorship numbers. If you're a fighter, then fight your way up, do it. Muhammad Ali didn't become world famous and the best fighter in the world and the chief of success and whatever financial success he had because he posted shirtless gym selfies and whoring himself on social media, and slapping a bunch of stickers on his ass. The dude fought, he became a legend, he's who we talk about to this day, and at the end of the day, you're graded, your stock is in your fighting." McCrory moved up to the middleweight division for his return fight and feels much better in the new weight division. The UFC banned IVs at the beginning of October, which could cause many fighters to move up in weight in the near future. IVs have never been too beneficial for McCrory, however, and he shouldn't have to use them at 185-pounds, anyways. "I don't even get what the deal is with this IV ban. I don't notice a difference either way, it's all relative. I could've used an IV when I fought John Howard, but in my last couple performances, I haven't really felt a difference," he said. "I don't actually cut that much weight. I have my own method and I'm very scientific about it. I don't drain my body, I'll be above 200-pounds the day I fight, but I don't drain my body to a degree that I think it'll be an impact on my performance. I can orally re-hydrate and eat good solid whole foods and be one hundred percent. "I weigh about what I weighed when I was at 170, maybe a couple pounds more. Am I the biggest 185-pounder in the world? No, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter how big you are, it matters how you perform. At the end of the day, we're martial artists. All these drug tests and stuff, I don't give a shit if they're on steroids. It can have a deal to do with the fight, all I'm saying is if they let them do it let me do it too. At the end of the day, martial arts is about techniques. There's an athletic component to it, but if you think you're the better fighter and you have the better technique, then you're gonna go out there and you're going to perform it. All these guys go, 'Oh I'm so big, I'm so ripped, I'm so cut,' the beach muscles aren't going to do you any good in a fight. It's about who's got the better heart, the better technique and the better conditioning, no matter what you look like -- look at me, everybody probably thinks I'm going to get my ass beat every time I fight, but that isn't how it goes down, is it?" Out of the cage, McCrory has been labelled as a "nerd." His Wikipedia page reads: Growing up, McCrory was often bullied for being a self-proclaimed "nerd," which later helped fuel his motivation for a career in mixed martial arts. With that being said, he believes he is past being a "nerd" and doesn't agree with that label anymore. "I don't know if nerd's the right word for me, now that I look back," he said. "I'm just different. I would say, I don't fit the mold in any regard. I'm not your typical fighter, I don't share the same views as everyone else in this business. I keep it raw; I'm in line with my own ideas and morals. Do I do things that are nerdy? Yeah. Do I look like one? Sure. At the end of the day, I'm very much my own person. I read a book here and there. Kids these days, if you're not glued to an iPad, you know what I'm saying. I'm into documentaries, nature shows, I don't have cable, I have 12 channels and Netflix. I try not to get too caught up in the social media world because I've found there are a lot of idiots out there and they will break you down and beat you with experience. I've changed. One of the big things is I try to enrich the life of my daughter. She's three; she's at a really fun age right now. I try to enrich her life with taking her to see things, I don't really play video games anymore. My life pretty much resolves around eat, sleep, train and family. And that's kind of like the natural progression of life, right?" The Barn Cat returns to action on Dec. 19 at UFC on FOX 17 from Amway Center in Orlando, FL against Josh Samman. "I haven't even seen the guy fight yet. All I've seen is the 20 second clip of him kicking the dude in the head, but he isn't going to pull that move on me."

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