Today our special guest is Chad “The Savage” George, former WEC fighter and subject of the hit documentary “Occupation Fighter”, currently available on Netflix.
F2F: What was that moment when you knew being a pro MMA fighter is what you wanted to do? Was there a watershed moment when you knew?
Chad: You know it actually was more of um; I had to make a choice whether I was going to pursue my artwork professionally or if I was going to do the fighting. I was kind of at the point with my art where I didn’t really want to do it anymore. So it was really an easy decision to make. It was like ok, do I continue with something that I’m not really into or do I try this other thing? And luckily it was the right decision.
F2F: When you finally made that decision, how difficult was it to get started and to get the training and exposure you needed?
Chad: Well that’s the hardest part. When you make a decision like that, you’re going from an industry where you know I was actually making a living, to having no financial income, living on someone’s couch and not being able to put gas in the car. You know that was tough. That was the hardest part, to keep believing in it and to keep grinding and keep going forward. That’s definitely the hardest part.
F2F: How did Occupation Fighter come about?
Chad: I wish I could have some glamorous, awesome story on how it came about, but unfortunately it’s not so amazing. Outside of the fact that I moved next door to the director. My girlfriend and I bought a condo in a little complex and we were the only people who lived there next to the director, who was really interested in what I did. Because he really didn’t know anything about MMA and he’d see me walking around the complex with a black eye or whatever. And it really just caught his attention. We started talking and he had this really amazing idea for a documentary. And that’s what he was known for. He’d done a bunch of documentaries in Germany and so we decided to go forward with it.
F2F: It’s a really powerful film, I mean anyone who is considering becoming a pro fighter who watches this will either be more motivated to do it, or will be scared away.
Chad: Haha, right!
F2F: But I mean, that’s not a bad thing. The film is so real; you can watch it and know you aren’t going into something like a fight career blindly.
Chad: Yeah, the response has been incredible.
F2F: How much has your life and career changed since the film’s release?
Chad: Oh man, I can’t even put an amount on it, it’s been tenfold. Mostly the biggest change is realizing that everything we do affects people around us. And until we realize that, we’ll never know how the things we do impact others. And if nothing else the film has helped open my eyes again. Because sometimes we just forget.
F2F: When you were filming, is there any experience that stands out to you from that time?
Chad: No particular one thing, the whole experience itself was pretty incredible. When you have someone documenting everything you do over a long period of time. You know, I don’t have a word for what to call it, but the whole thing is just life changing in itself.
F2F: What would you say has been your biggest set of obstacles or single biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Chad: For me, I’d say the biggest thing I had to overcome was the battle with myself. I’m sure you if anybody understand what that means. You know, if you want to make a big change in your life, you have to battle the one that’s going on inside you. And even if you watch the film, if you watch the stages I went through, you’ll see a guy who starts out trying to figure himself out to being a guy who knows who they really are.
F2F: That battle seems to be a pretty common theme with most fighters. I see it a lot on The Ultimate Fighter.
Chad: Yeah because what’s interesting is in my situation is that I had a camera on me for 8 or 9 months. The Ultimate Fighter guys only have to deal with that for 8-12 weeks. Yet in that 8-12 weeks, they have to be forced to face themselves whether they want to or not. And that’s something that most people are not ready to do.
F2F: One thing on the Ultimate Fighter, it’s shorter but with so many guys you can almost predict who is going to win the fights each week, because you can see some of them defeat themselves mentally before even setting foot in the cage.
Chad: Yeah, absolutely and that’s going on inside all people all the time. And you know it’s just a matter of whoever can get a grasp of that before the other one is what it comes down to.
F2F: So what would you say worked for you in overcoming those obstacles?
Chad: I don’t know if there is any one thing that works. For me it was just the whole self-diving in and digging in and wanting to know about myself and why I do certain things. Realizing you don’t have to put on an image or facade for others to accept you. You just have to be confident in what it is you do and why you do things, and don’t be embarrassed by it. Just accept it and go do it.
F2F: Yeah, I noticed that kind of theme running through the movie. At times it feels like two separate films. At the beginning you’re talking about the haircut, the Mohawk and the branding. Then later in the film you say you don’t care about the hair or any of that stuff, you’re just going to go and do this thing.
Chad: And yeah, that was actually the point I was talking about. When I finally realized I don’t need all this glam and glitz for people to accept me. I’m like “Oh I can just be me?” that’s so much easier.
F2F: So what would you say your plans are for the future?
Chad: Well right now, I’m in rehab from my recent back surgery. We’re looking to hopefully make a comeback in October. But we aren’t committing to anything until I’m healthy and at 100%. But the plan is to at least get a fight in before the end of the year.
F2F: Any idea who you might be fighting with promotion wise?
Chad: No, like I said, I’m not committing anywhere just yet. We have a lot of people contacting us wanting to book that fight. You know, because of the film and everything. Every local promotion is trying to book that fight and my fan base here in L.A. has really grown. But I’m not worried about that right now. I’m worried about getting healthy. But I’m working hard and getting stronger and once I’m back and healthy, it will be the strongest version of me this sport has seen yet.
F2F: What would you say to someone in their 30s or 40s or who is overweight considering training in MMA?
Chad: Don’t let others dictate what you want to do. If you believe you want to do something, follow your heart and follow your dreams. As long as you believe it, you can achieve anything.
Thank you Chad for taking the time to talk and for sharing your experiences with Fat 2 Fighter. I highly recommend everyone check out “Occupation Fighter” on Netflix. You’ll see the real day to day life of a professional MMA fighter. It’s a great film.
You can connect with Chad on Facebook here:
And here is Chad’s gym