By Evan Stoumbelis – @MMAEvan
WEC veteran Chad George made a big announcement on BJPENN.com radio on Wednesday regarding his return to MMA after having a disk in his back replaced. After his announcement I was fortunate enough to interview Chad 1 on 1. Special thanks to Jason House (@JayFSE) for setting this up. As always, Chad’s responses are italicized.
ES: Since we last talked in April how are you feeling?
“I’m feeling great. It’s definitely weird not being in pain. I’m back to full training now, 100%, Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, heavy lifting, all of it. I’m still doing Physical Therapy at AFT at Santa Monica and I’m really just pushing myself harder every day than the day before.”
ES: When did the fight officially get scheduled?
“Well we’ve been talking about it for a while, and now we’re just waiting on paperwork. I’m all good to go for October 5th. Now we’re just dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s and then we’re ready to go.”
ES: How did you decide on this event and this promotion?
“It really tough because I have a great relationship with BAMMA. Those guys are my family and they’ve always been good to me, and I’ve been with Pandemonium for a long time. It was very tough decision, but with everything laid out and with the things that were presented, my team decided that this would be the best option for this moment. I’m not saying I won’t fight for BAMMA in the future, but for this moment my management decided on this.”
ES: Coming off the surgery and not being able to train 100% in the past, is there anything you’re looking to showcase in this upcoming fight?
“I’m just looking to showcase that I have every aspect of what it takes to be world champion. I want to showcase everything that I haven’t been able to over the last couple of years.”
ES: Have you made any changes to your coaching staff or cornermen or anything like that?
“I’ve had a couple really big changes, like I picked up some new coaches for striking: Rob McIver and Zarom from Victory. I picked them up as my striking team. I’m just working with them. We have amazing chemistry for how long we’ve been together and it just fits in perfectly. It just seems like everything is aligning and this is meant to be.”
ES:Now having that disk replaced, are you noticing there are things you can now do because you’re injury and pain-free?
“Absolutely, I haven’t been able to kick for the last couple of years because, if I turned my hip a certain way, I would be in pain for days, now I’m moving my hips properly and learning the proper form. I never had confidence in my punching power, I mean, I knew I had it, but my core was so weak. Now I’m strengthening it I’m getting confident with everything that I throw.”
ES: You said your core was really weak before. What are some things you’re doing to strengthen it?
“Strength and conditioning, my team has been really adamant about doing tons of core training every day and doing strengthening movement and having confidence in these movements. It took months for me to not have pain running down my leg and eventually it started going away and I feel great. Every week I feel ten times stronger than I was the week before.”
ES: With everything that your team is helping you do, is this something you will have to do for the rest of your career?
“I have to, I never want to go back to the pain I was in before. People that never had a herniated disk don’t understand it. That is the worst pain I could ever go through that I know of, and I went through it on a daily basis. This is something I’ll do for the rest of my career or even maybe the rest of my life.”
ES: Is there a high chance of you re-injuring that disk again?
“There’s always a possibility of re-injury once it’s been injured. Once it’s been injured its got a higher risk. We had to make sure I didn’t do too much too soon. I only have a fraction of my disk left, so I still have to be careful. I can’t go too crazy, can’t do things with bad form or train with these big guys. As long as I’m doing that and training smart I’ll be fine.”
ES: Going off the training smart topic, were there things you shouldn’t have done that weren’t smart looking back now?
“Oh man I could write a book on how many things I’ve done wrong in training! I’m a little guy so my whole life I’ve been about proving I’m not a little guy. I’d spar bigger guys, I’d wrestle with 200 pounders, I’d hard kickbox with 180lbs guys just because I forget that I’m not as big as him, or I think I can lift more weight than I should, or push myself too many rounds when I’m too tired. Now I realize, alright I’ll go rest up and come back stronger tomorrow. It was trial and error really and I use them as a learning experience.
ES: Looking back now, do you wish you had done the surgery earlier and think about how things may have been different?
“You know I’m not really one who likes to look backwards like ‘oh I should have done this or done that,’ a lot of good things happened, the documentary and that whole story. If I was 100%, that may not have happened. A lot of good things came from it, if you look on the flip side. I’m not really worried about what I should or shouldn’t have done. I focus on the fact that I get a second chance at this thing.”
ES: Speaking of the documentary, I saw on your Twitter that Occupation Fighter hit 50,000 ratings, congrats on that.
“Thanks, yeah we just hit 50,000 ratings on Netflix.”
ES: I also remember seeing that Dreamworks did a private screening of it.
“Yeah Dreamworks invited us for private screening for artists and faculty and my family got to come and stuff like that. There was a Q&A and we had a blast. My management and Iridium agency got to come out, and it was a fun experience. Growing up as an artist, I always wanted to work at Dreamworks, so it was really surreal.”
ES: Speaking of Dreamworks and your art, have you been doing more of that during your recovery?
“Not right now really. I got a lot of drawing done while I was bed ridden. I got to do some cool stuff while I was laying in bed, but now it’s been on a back-burner. I’m focused on getting healthy and getting this first fight out-of-the-way and start attacking at what I was born to do.”
ES: While you were bedridden, did you make any changes to your diet?
“I always try to eat pretty healthy. I’m trying to do everything to a T. I’m working with a nutritionist and we’re still 8 weeks out from the fight, but I’m eating like I’m 4 weeks out. I’m eating clean, feeling good, taking supplements for the first time, drinking protein shakes, pre-workout shakes, vitamins, all that stuff. It all came together at the right time.”
ES: How has your weight cut been with you taking so much time off?
“Well I’m a pretty big 135er. I walk around at about 160 pounds and I’m used to eating good and I enjoy eating proper food. Instead of changing the diet suddenly, the plan is, over a handful of weeks, my weight chops down anyway. I’m not counting calories but I’ve got more energy during the day and I’m naturally chopping weight. It should be an easy cut. Even in the film, I’d be in the sauna while I was over 160 before, so I’m trying to eliminate the extra pounds. The weight cut is the worst part. If I can cut as much water as I can and limit the water I have to pull out, I’ll be happy.”
ES: How had being bedridden affected your weight?
“Believe it or not, I stayed close to 160 after the surgery. All of a sudden I had a chip in my mindset where I knew why I did the surgery. It wasn’t so I could enjoy food or eat things to allow me to cut my weight down, it was a recovery process.. I mean I was out of bed 3 days after surgery without pain medication.”
ES: With being out of bed so fast without pain medication, did you have a timeline for when you wanted to be back in the gym?
“My timeline was take this time off and get me in there, but my team did a great job of keeping me under control. My training partners and coaches wouldn’t let me anyway. My team was allowing me to do a little more every week, lift a little more, stretch a little more, and as the weeks went on we built up to where we are today.”
ES: You mentioned that you brought in some new striking coaches. How did you decide on that and when did that happen?
“I had decided before I wanted to go under the knife, I’ve been with them for years now. But actively as my coaches, I’ve been with them for 6 months. I always had a great relationship with them and we all knew we wanted to start working together and it just lined up and one thing led to another. We knew it would happen at some point and it just lined up.”
ES: What are your thoughts as you get closer and closer to October 5th?
“It becomes more and more real every day. I always wake up and think to myself about today and tell myself it’s going to be another day we want to get further. I always think to myself: what did I do today that bettered me from yesterday? I didn’t do the surgery so I would be without pain. I did the surgery so I could do something nobody has ever done before. Every day I remind myself about that, and it’s a testament to what I’m doing.”
ES: Did you ever have doubts about whether or not you wanted to return to MMA?
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some doubts. Some days I’d wake up and question it, but I see it as a reminder as ‘hey don’t go back to what you were doing’. I can’t let those days take over, I have to win that battle. Fighting is mental. If you don’t have a grasp on that, you can’t be something more. I’m finally getting a grasp on that.”
ES: When did all of that happen?
“I think it all started happening when the reality set in that I might be done with the sport. I was talking with some buddies from BAMMA, and I thought ‘hey maybe, you know, I hang them up and walk away,’ and I got into a depression. I thought ‘wow am I really done?’ But there’s something deep down that I knew said ‘there’s no way I’m done, I have to achieve more.’ That’s when the mindset started shifting to ‘You know what? You do have something bigger to do and now it’s coming together.”
ES: I know you’ve fought under the BAMMA banner multiple times and you mentioned that you have a good relationship with them. How did that start?
“Well I’ve been with them for a long time and, when I got out of the WEC, they approached me about fighting and we talked about everything and they took care of me. It’s nothing against Brett, they’re like family to me. I’m letting Jason House from Iridium Sports Agency handle my career with my new stuff that I’m doing, and Pandemonium fights is the route they decided to go with.”
ES: Jason and I talk quite a bit through texting and Twitter. How did you partner up with him as your manager?
“One of my training partners is managed by Jason, Dominic Clark, and he introduced me to Jason. I’ve known him for a while but he brought it to the table. He works with a lot of good guys and has a lot of connections to help me get back in there. I have to go with what I’m doing and I let him handle that side of it for me. He and I talked and saw eye to eye on what I want and October 5th is the start of it.”
ES: It definitely sounds like October 5th is the start of many good things to come
“I’m not super religious about preaching but I truly believe there’s something inside of me that’s supposed to come out that I’m supposed to show the world.”
ES: On behalf of BJPENN.com, I’d like to thank you for making this announcement through us and for taking the time to do this interview.
“Absolutely, you guys have been with me since the beginning. 2013 is absolutely going to be the Year of the Savage.”