It’s not often that we get to hear true sentiment from athletes. Original thoughts are not always what “the business” wants it’s participants to put out there. How many times have we heard a Shaquille O’Neal interview where all he would rattle off was that he “wanted to play within himself”, he just wanted to “come out and play his game” and just wanted to “help the team”? Most pro athletes keep their heads down chasing that fame and fortune, sometimes to their own detriment.
That chase is what can keep athletes in the game for too long. Muhammed Ali stuck around a bit too long. Gary Goodridge stuck around a little too long. Both of these warriors who were the best of the best in their primes didn’t seem to know when to take a break or hang it up and suffered some serious brain trauma, as a result. Roy Jones might be another. He can’t win a fight anymore, but he keeps fighting. Time will tell for him, although, the fact that nobody laid a hand on him in the 90’s should help him a bit more than others.
My point with all of this is that on yesterday’s Pure Adrenaline Radio, Brady Hovermale made a statement that rendered me speechless for a few moments.
Brady Hovermale, a 20-year old prospect from Indiana, joined us to give us some background on himself and to discuss his upcoming fight at LFC 53 on June 15th. He’s been a previous guest of The Verbal Submission, another MMA radio show on the MMA Valor Radio Network. So, we knew we were getting a well-spoken young fighter but instead of hear about his upcoming fight and move on down the line of his career, instead we got something better.
What we got was so much more profound and meaningful. When asked about possibly leaving Indiana to go train at other gyms and “expand” his game, he dropped a bomb on us. “I’ll tell ya right now, actually I haven’t told pretty much anyone other than a few close training partners, which I actually might be taking a step back from the competition of fighting for maybe a little while. Uh, this will be my 9th fight, June 15th will be my 9th fight, professional fight, in less than two years and I’m not even 21 years old yet.” “That’s a hectic pace that I don’t think I really need to be doing right now.”
What I found so inspiring about his statements was that he is saving himself now, in order to cash in later. Who does that?! What young person has the self-discipline and wisdom to see that far down the line and put the “now” on hold for something better to come? He knows he has what it takes to keep going now, but is potentially choosing to stop, improve, get the career back on track at a later date and be able to form a complete sentence when he’s 40, because of it. How tough must that decision be, taking into consideration that the youth movement is in full effect in MMA. Guys like Jon Jones, Rory MacDonald, Stefan Struve and Michael McDonald are young and having great success NOW! So, my thinking might be (if I were in his shoes), if they are that young and doing it well, I’ll keep pushing until I get there. Not Brady Hovermale. He has seen that a fighter’s prime is in his late 20’s or early 30’s, so he’s going to potentially wait. Hovermale went on to state that he wasn’t giving up the sport. He would rather just hit up some different camps, strengthen his overall game and come back more complete, with less wear.
Success can come at any age. However, it’s been said, in combat sports, it’s not about the age, it’s about the mileage. Will the young guys that are Champions now be able to sustain that punishment for a decade or so or will they be out of the sport in their late 20’s? Don’t know. Time will tell. All I know is that in this current age of “gotta have it now” mentalities, I found it refreshing that there are still people like Brady Hovermale out there that realize that sometimes it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare.