Whenever one of my fighters (from "Fight Life" documentary) get in the ring for a fight, I get quite nervous and imagine what our reaction would be if they win/lose. I imagine the repercussions of the win/loss. Luckily, I've been quite fortunate as Jake, Lyle, Bryan, Nick, Gil have all won their fights in the past year. Being there live at the fights watching them only intensifies my own nerves. For the first time, I've experienced my first loss when Ryan Schultz lost tonight in Sengoku 10. Out of all my guys, Ryan really needed a win at this point in his career coming off 2 consecutive losses.
I spent this past weekend in Portland with Ryan and his family chatting about their lives and shooting for my documentary. I was with Ryan all the way until he was dropped off by his wife to the airport. His son Killian cried in the car for about 15 minutes after Ryan had left us. There isn't a more humble and better human being than Ryan Schultz out of everybody I've met both inside and outside the ring. You can tell by the way his trainers/friends talk about him that this guy is something special. Working full time and training full time on top of being a family man totally devoted to his family. I'd be lying if I said there was someone I wanted more to win than Ryan Schultz. Ryan doesn't try to sell himself and which is why he doesn't have many sponsorships. For someone who was the former IFL champion, I was very surprised that he had no big sponsors especially since his fights are on TV(hdnet). This guy only cares about two things: his family, and fighting. After seeing him get knocked out tonight, I felt a shock. My mind froze and I couldn't believe what I just saw. This whole time we've focused on him winning. Some images suddenly flash before me... I see our time spent together this past weekend and how confident and optimistic he looked(still in a humble way). We talked about getting this win and fighting for the Sengoku belt. We had lunch, played with his son Killian, talked for hours about his future plans and the MMA game. This line Ryan always says just popped in my head just now: "The highest of highs, the lowest of lows", "This sport is about wins".
After my one year with MMA, I'll say this much about the sport: "MMA is a glorious sport when you win. But when you lose... no one sees any of that." You are suddenly forgotten as a fighter; no one wants to be around you. People treat losing like a disease in the fight game. What I find interesting is what happens to fighters after they lose. The problem with this sport is that each fight is such a big investment: 8-12 weeks of training camp, and then the fight, and usually about 3-4 months until your next fight. This isn't basketball or baseball where you take a loss and get to compete again in a day or two. You have 2-4 months to think about your loss AFTER your fight. For Ryan, he had to wait one year for this fight that just happened tonight. Imagine a whole year after a loss and not knowing when you'll get to fight again... Picture that... This was the main reason I started "Fight Life", I wanted to take away the glamor and strip all the hype and show the real life of fighters. I'll pray for Ryan tonight and hope he has a speedy recovery. I know he'll need his time for the next few months to rethink his fighting career being the competitive person that he is. I don't think anyone takes losses harder than a guy like Ryan. If this was recreational, it wouldn't be so bad, but these guys are doing this for a living. What we the audience see as pure entertainment is someone else's way of making a living and supporting his family. I'll admit I'm a little down right now thinking about Ryan and the repercussions of this fight... But all I can do now as a friend is take a step back and pray that he'll stand up again.