I have always considered myself to be a simple Midwestern guy.
I was born in Kentucky, but grew up in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. I attended the University of Cincinnati, earning undergraduate degrees in both Education and Mathematics. It was during college that I spent any free time I had training in various types of martial arts. I continued my studies to earn a Masters in Education while also teaching high school math. But it was during this time that my career began in MMA fighting professionally.
After four years of teaching, I left to pursue a dream of fighting full time. I quickly moved up the ranks and in 2005 earned the UFC Middleweight World Title.
In 2003, I launched American Fighter clothing company with several business partners. The American Fighter message was about finding the fighter in each of us…whether you are a person battling cancer, an athlete preparing for competition or a soldier stepping into combat, we all have a fighter in us. In 2012, Affliction Clothing expressed interest in American Fighter and its wide spread appeal. They acquired the majority of the company to take the brand to mainstream retailers where it continues to grow.
The American Fighter name had an obvious connection with military personnel and I have always felt it is my civic duty to give back to the troops. I have visited military bases all over the country, both domestic and abroad. The most recent trip was to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In 2006, I began working with the military extensively, particularly with disabled veterans. I’m a big supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) organization and am in talks for some upcoming projects.
This most recent chapter of my life has been a busy one. In October 2013, I launched ZeLin Juice & Fusion Café in Beverly Hills, California with a business associate. We kept the cafe open for about a year before our schedules became so busy that we had to close the brick and mortar store and try to pursue wholesale with our product instead. Let me tell you, it was one huge learning experience in how to run a company.
In April of 2014, I accepted a position with the ONE Championship organization as one of their VP’s. Based in Singapore, I have been traveling back and forth to promote the brand both internationally and within the states. I am also involved in the grass root effort to expand MMA in Asia, working with fighters in addition to hosting seminars in places like the Philippines and Cambodia.
In addition, I have teamed up with ABL Silver to promote Armor Gel, a non-toxic topical gel used to treat minor cuts, lacerations, abrasions, 1st & 2nd degree burns, skin irritations, ringworm, etc. The product launched in January 2015.
When I’m not busy with all of the above, I’m writing or doing speaking engagements. I received some great feedback from my TedxTalk in Chicago this past April on the topic of “How to Be a Loser.” This led me to an engagement at Chicago Ideas Week where I discussed how to “Work Like a Fighter.” I also have a bi-weekly column in Yahoo Sports! where I write about fitness, health, nutrition, etc.