Evolve MMA head coach has fighting spirit
Evolve MMA's new head coach loves the combat sport but had to stop due to multiple injuries
From 51 wins to being a head coach of training camps around the world, this former professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter has had his share of ups and downs.
The new head coach of Evolve MMA, Brian Ebersole, had his first taste of the MMA sport when he was around 15.
The 36-year-old told The New Paper: "I think I was tearing up the house when I was younger, so my parents wanted to get rid of me for a while. My father asked me whether I wanted to attend wrestling practice.
"My grandfather also started a youth wrestling programme in my hometown, Illinois, so all of us could have a chance to compete more.
"As soon as I went, I found it so fun, and I never stopped."
Ebersole also dabbled in Brazilian jiu jitsu with his friends, imitating what they saw on television and having small battles together in one another's backyards and garages.
At 17, he started to participate in jiu jitsu competitions and took part in his first MMA competition after his first year in college.
"There were some guys who wrestled in college, but I didn't think they were that good. I saw that my wrestling credentials were better, so I moved to California in my last year of college," said Ebersole.
There, he had to "dig ditches and work in a bar to earn money to train and make ends meet".
"It was just too expensive in California," said Ebersole.
He thought he had his break when he signed a fight contract in 2006, but he was suspended indefinitely by the California State Athletic Commission that year. He had a match with MMA fighter Shannon Ritch, and the commission claimed the two had planned the match.
Ebersole then moved to Australia in 2007 to fight and coach, allowing him to "relax a little more financially".
"I lost a big contract and the opportunity to fight some of the best guys in the industry; I thought it was going to be my way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)."
Eventually, Ebersole did sign a contract with the UFC in 2011 and found success. But injuries - including tearing three discs in his lower back - prompted him to retire.
Said Ebersole: "Bending is more painful now, and the muscles around it tighten or spasm sometimes. Even sitting down now, it hurts.
"I think every athlete stops his sport when his body tells him he is done, and I don't think there is an age limit.
"...I have been selfish my whole life - leaving college and not finishing it, which upset my parents. To me, (MMA) is like a drug. You get addicted, and even when it starts to show the bad side, you still want to stay."
He added: "When I got injured, I started to realise that soon it was going to be over. But even when I was hurt, I didn't mind fighting a few times, as I didn't want to go into debt.
"It stopped being enjoyable after a while, and that was when I knew I wanted to transition into coaching."
After his wife, Alecia, a microbiologist and fitness trainer, gave birth to their now nine-month-old daughter, he has been taking care of his family and bought a house in Illinois to raise his child.
Now as Evolve MMA's head coach, he will oversee training for its professional MMA fighters competing in elite global promotions.
"I do my research based on what is working in MMA right now, and my fundamentals are going to be the same.
"I think the biggest thing will be bringing in more wrestling techniques, and the philosophy of it," he said.
Ebersole said he has a "dad bod" now and does not follow a strict diet plan any more.
He said: "I don't have much of a fitness routine now, but I still try to do a bit of stretching, yoga and pilates every day to keep my back healthy and happy. I hurt my ribs in late April, so I am taking a back seat just for now."
Looking back at his career, he said: "I was coming out trying to get better. And even when I lost, I still thought I was better than my opponent, so the experience has definitely made me more humble.
"To get better in fighting, one has to concentrate on an area long enough to get good at it before moving on. There is no purpose leaving a job half done."