Words like dedicated, hard working, humble and driven get thrown around all the time without true merit. In the case of Chad George they are epitomized and put on display in the documentary about his life and lead up to his battle with Antonio Banuelos at WEC 51 titled “Occupation: Fighter”. If you don’t know about the man who goes by “Savage” it is time to wake up and check him out. He is a Bantamweight who has fought in many different promotions including BAMMA USA, Valor Fighting and perhaps the biggest to date the WEC. He is currently 14-7 and recovering from back surgery and took the time to talk with us on the phone. So take a minute to watch the film (it will change your life) and read another amazing interview!
Hey Chad thanks a lot for taking the time to sit down with us here at ArtofMMA.com. Hope your doing well, how’s it going?
Savage: Thanks for having me, I am doing great. I am currently 7 weeks out of back surgery and working through the rehab process. Excited about the future.
Getting right into it the documentary “Occupation: Fighter” is in my opinion something really special and something any MMA fan needs to see. You detail everything in your life 24/7 up to WEC 51. This was a no holds barred film and really showed the ups and downs of a fighters life. Can you talk to us a little about the film, what it meant to you to open up your life, did it make anything different and your thoughts on it.
Savage: Thanks for that man, this film really is something special and it has really blown up. If anyone told you in the start we thought it would be this popular they would have lied. It started as an educational film with a director who was just learning the sport of MMA. I am very proud of it.
In regards to the cameras you know I felt really comfortable around them and made sure when I agreed to do it that I would only do it if we kept it 100% real and that’s just what we did. I see now that people are really relating to it because it is real life, I have struggles just like the people watching it and to make that connection is really something special.
In the film you really expose the injury side of not only MMA but pro athletes in a whole. It shows you are the chiropractor getting almost your entire body worked on. First how is the health and can you talk to us about the injury side of the sport and the toll it takes seeing how you are getting up there in age in terms of a pro athlete (Chad turns 31 on April 30).
Savage: One word, Brutal. You hear the studies about pro athletes only have a life expectancy in their sport of between 4-7 years, yeah it’s true. It’s a constant beatdown on your body and how long you last depends on how you maintain yourself. It wasn’t really shown in the documentary but the biggest injury I had was my back, I was getting Cortisone shots all the time and before my Soto fight I had an epidural because the Cortisone wasn’t working. It had gotten so bad that I had surgery to fix it.
Like I said I am 7 weeks post op and going through rehab. My doctors told me my body was only working at around 70% my entire career now I am going to be pain free for the first time, man I am excited!
Truth be told, before the surgery I was thinking about retiring. I had talked to some smaller promotions and planned my retirement fight and wrote the speech. But I met with Dr. Jeff Paquette, who does amazing work and some with stem cell and he told me I may have a 2nd chance. Needless to say I ripped up that retirement speech and now taking rehab very seriously. Not gonna let this go to waste!
You mentioned the Soto fight and that brings me to a comment the announcers made when Soto hit you with a double leg. They referred to you as an “older generation fighter” in that you give up anything to land something. Do you think this is true?
Savage: Hell no. I may be a bit older but I am not an older generation fighter I keep evolving. That was a tough fight for me with all the pain and keep in mind that Soto is a 2x World Champ in Bellator, he is no joke. I knew it would be hard for me if he got me to my back with his great BJJ and my legs just couldn’t stop the take down.
I couldn’t agree more with you. Since seeing your first fight in Mexico up until that Soto fight your entire game has completely evolved. Speaking of your first professional fight umm yeah you took a fight in Tijuana, Mexico on one day notice. What was going through your mind on the car ride from Cali to TJ?
Savage: HAHAHAHA that’s simple, WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? In all honesty thought once I got there I didn’t have time to get scared, it was just one thing after another and the next thing I know I am in a cage fighting.
That was awesome and in the documentary you really outline it and they show the fight, again people GO WATCH OCCUPATION: FIGHTER it’s on Netflix and iTunes, it’s one of those films everyone needs to see! Ok back to the interview, shortly after that fight Chris Leo (Projekt Label) becomes your sponsor and tells the documentary that he sponsored you because of your heart and drive. That speaks a lot about your character and what people see in you, what did that mean to get a sponsor not only on skill but because of who you really are? Also you have a pretty huge fan base because of the same attributes talk to us about your fans.
Savage: First off thanks that is very flattering about the film. Man it means everything to me. It really showed me people care about the true me and not the just fighter. It was pretty cool.
Man my fans mean everything to me. They have been behind me my whole career and getting to know them and see some on the film really showed me they care.It is something special when someone cheers for you and wants your autograph.
Going with that same topic, the film really goes into three of the people you train and they get a chance to speak about what you mean to them and I was amazed at how they really spoke. They put it all on the table and spoke with true emotion about the impact you have not only had on them with your training and teaching but also the emotional connection you have with them. Talk to us about the first time you got to see that on film and what went though your mind.
Savage: It was interesting man. The director brought me into a screening room with the girl from K-Rock, myself and my girlfriend, I won’t lie my guard was up. About 1/4 the movie I was so drawn and attached I had to remind myself this was my story hahaha. It was amazing though bro, throughout life you forget to take a step back and look through other people’s eyes. I got to do that when I saw them talk in the film and it was amazing and really hit home.
I bet because that was some hard hitting stuff. People forget that pro athletes and fights are people at the core, they aren’t machines. Many people know but for those that don’t, you started out as an artist in LA then became a fighter. You say you use art as your “get away” from fighting. Do you think all fighters and pro athletes for that matter need a vice.
Savage: 100% ma. It is super important, you can’t let what you do consume you. My art lets me escape and zone out. I feel everyone no matter what job they have need that escape. My students use my class as an escape from their daily life and that’s great. You always need to take the step back from everything once in a while and just zone out.
At the end of the documentary you don’t get that fairly tale ending. In fact you get the exact opposite, you lose the fight then Zuffa comes in and dissolves the WEC and you don’t get brought in. Can you talk to us about that entire process and time in your life.
Savage: To be honest it isn’t all that bad because if I had won that fight and been taken up to the UFC that movie probably would have never come out. So there are some positives.
Man, I don’t know what happened with that whole ZUFFA and UFC thing. Yeah I lost the fight but then ZUFFA comes in and brings some fighters up and some get left out. There was no discussion with me about coming to the UFC which I thought was weird. Then I got a call from them saying I was coming up but there were delays. 1 month turned into 2 months then 3 months then they called saying I should stay active and look at smaller promotions. It just got dragged out and I moved on to fight in BAMMA USA and TPF since then.
You mentioned those other promotions, what was the main difference between them if you don’t mind talking about that for a second.
Savage: Sure. BAMMA USA was awesome, they take great care of their fighters and really look out for them. On the promotional scale and putting a fight together man ZUFFA and the UFC are second to none, they have it down to a science and are amazing at it, they are just on another level. But having all the money to do helps too hahaha.
Now that you have had the surgery, your going through rehab and coming back stronger than ever, what’s next?
Savage: Well, I understand I can’t go banging on the UFC’s door yet but I am taking this rehab seriously and when I come back you can bet I am going to make a statement. We (me and my team at PKG) are eying an October comeback fight but nothing is set in stone yet and the only thing I am commited to right now is the rehab.
That is awesome and I really hope you comeback, the world of MMA and work in general needs more people like Chad George. Ok let’s go Fight Club here. You can fight anyone you want, who is it and why?
Savage: Honestly who ever it takes me to get to the top. I am not going to sit here and call out Anderson Silva I just want to get back to the top.
Oh man, no Nick Diaz moment? Ok last question, if a new kid walks into your guys stating he/she is thinking of becoming a fighter what advise would you give them?
Savage: Funny you ask that because it happened just the other day. It’s a really tough question but I would ask them if they are really ready for the long process. It is physically and mentally draining all the time and your not going to be fighting in a cage soon, its a very long process.
Amazing. Well I don’t want to take anymore of your time but before we close are there any sponsors or anyone you would like to mention?
Savage: I would like to thank Irdium Sports Agency, Fresh Start Entertainment, Zevia, Guard Ya Grill, DC Tattoos, OC Fight Docs, Alex at APA, Paquette Spine Institute, Advance to Health Chiro, PKG Training Center and last I would like to thank my fans they are the best in the world.
Awesome man, this has been a blast. I would like to thank you and Jay from Fresh Start (@jayfreshstart) who set this all up as well. Best of luck to you Chad and hope to see you in October.
There you have it fans, Chad “Savage” George. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @savage135 and you can follow his recovery and road back to the cage on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/ChadSavageGeorge). Also make sure to go check out Occupation: Fighter on Netflix or iTunes it is amazing.