Abe Wagner has overcome a lot in life. His father was abusive, so abusive that at one point he beat Abe with a hammer, leaving him bloodied and out cold. Somehow, a little Abe was able to overcome these circumstances, he moved in with a foster family, milked some cows in Wisconsin and a well adjusted Abe ended up playing college football and became a mechanical engineer. After a bloody stint on the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter, Abe signed with Titan Fighting Championships and is riding high off his 32 second KO of Tim Sylvia. We discussed a plethora of subjects with the heavyweight fighter and sometimes public speaker, which you can read below.
Are you still feeling the momentum behind the Tim Sylvia fight? Is that why you took this fight so soon? Yeah, I want to get as many fights as possible at the moment, as my career goes on I want to fight better and better guys and see what I can do.
Do you think Tim Sylvia took the fight with you seriously? I don’t think he took it seriously. One thing for sure he didn’t take it on was short notice. We had about 6 weeks notice before the fight, but I don’t think he took me as a credible threat to him.
Did you feel more confident or less confident about the fight when he weighed in at 311? I felt more confident from the standpoint that I thought his cardio would be bad, but I mean it’s to stand across from a guy who is 4 inches taller and heavier and feel all that confident…Know what I mean?
Are you still going to be fighting Todd Duffee in the future? I’m not sure about that, last I heard he was taking some time off after his Overeem fight.
If you could do The Ultimate Fighter over again, would you do it? No, that’s a rough experience right there. Just being cut off from everything in the whole world is just…a pretty tough experience.
What were the positives and negatives of the experience? The best part was spending that much time devoted to the skill of MMA, the worst part is that you are just cut off from all of society. No media, no loved ones, you don’t know anything that happens.
You’ve had a tough upbringing in your life, your father was abusive and you eventually had a falling out with him at a young age. How have you been able to over come that and lead the successful life you have now? A lot of it just came down to personal accountability and choices. It would easy to just ‘repeat the cycle’ but I just knew at a very early age that it wasn’t what I wanted with my life so I made the right choices.
At what fork in the road did a young Abe Wagner gain that knowledge? Since you were in a perceived environment of ‘wrong’ all the time, was there another mentor in your life? Honestly I have spent a lot of time and personal reflection on that question and I really don’t have a good answer for it. Growing up like that and the situation I was in, I have no idea how I knew that there was more to it. I have spent a lot of time in my own personal reflection trying to figure that one out, but I haven’t come to anything viable as a reason.
What are your thoughts on environment vs genetics for human growth? The real answer is probably a combination thereof, but at the end of the day I think people will choose the negative path given to them. It’s about not taking personal accountability and everyone wants to blame the state of their life on everything but the choices they’ve made and they refuse to see that their life is the sum of all the choices they made, so they should make better choices…Until you take ownership of that, you’re just kind of spinning your wheels, know what I mean? 90% of your life is what you do with it and 10% is is the circumstances you find yourself in.
Yes, you’re a public speaker right? From time to time, it’s certainly not what pays the bills but when I’m called on I do from time to time. So I can share my story.
Speaking of personal accountability, have you heard the story of the Ohio Government lowering the Police entrance exam score by 15 points? What are your thoughts on that? Where do you think our culture is headed? Wow! What an interesting question for an MMA interview.
Thanks. I think when people aren’t meeting standards you have one of two options, you can either increase the skill set of the people so they can exceed the standards or you can lower the standards. I think when you break it down into that it’s pretty obvious which is the more favorable of the two as far as society is concerned…It’s like if someone wants to fit into a size small dress they can either lose weight or call a medium a ‘small’.
What are your thoughts on the UFC buying Strikeforce? Give us a couple positives and negatives. It’s hard to say, you want to encourage competition for resources and in this case the resources are the fighters. So the less high level competition there is the less you can play the two promotions off each other to make money for yourself, but the good news for a fighter now is the promotional boundaries are gone. We don’t have to worry about if Overeem can fight Shane Carwin or something.
Do you think the purchase of Strikeforce by the UFC brings the fighters closer to having a union? The thing that is troubling with having a fighters union is this: in other major sports there is a very distinct line, either you’re in the NBA or you’re not, either you’re in the NFL or you’re not,. In MMA and fight sports in general it’s an individual thing, you might be a UFC fighter until they cut you, then you fight some mid level shows to get back. It’s very transient, there isn’t a set defined population of people that are UFC fighters and are pro MMA fighters. There are some local shows where you fight some drunk dude out of a crowd and you can call yourself an MMA fighter.
Yeah, kind of like getting a 2 second commercial spot and then getting an SGA card. Right, and it’s hard to define what the criteria would be for admitting someone into the union. Certain number of fights? Record? There are some guys in the UFC who are t6-0 and there are some not in the UFC that are 24-2 but they fought all 0-1 fighters. It’s a slippery slope and hard to define.
In your personal opinion then, what does the UFC have to do to become an NBA or NFL? They were small once too. I think, and this is purely conjecture, that the UFC in general gives the smallest percentage of proceeds from actually running the business given to the actual talent that is performing it, if that makes sense? Like how much the NFL pays a player vs how much intake of revenue, or the NBA. When you compare how much the UFC makes in revenue vs how much they pay their talent I feel like that ratio is a lot smaller than in any other sport.