Professional athletes are often looked at as bigger than life figures.
They perform on the grandest stages and compete at the highest levels, and they almost seem super human in many ways.
But every athlete, no matter whether they play football, basketball or in this case live their life as a professional fighter, aren’t above dealing with some very serious real life issues that take them far away from the competition.
The last year of Josh Grispi‘s life has been like walking around in a nightmare and then realizing he’s not asleep.
When 2011 started, he was poised for a potential shot at the newly minted UFC featherweight title, but a lackluster performance against Dustin Poirier took that away from him. Then, six months later, he lost in an even worse manner to George Roop, being finished in the third round by TKO.
The losses weren’t the biggest of Grispi’s problems. As a matter of fact, that was just the tip of a gargantuan iceberg.
“Last year was just the craziest year of my life. Between my dad and having my kid, which was good, but then with my dad two days later finding out he had brain cancer, and then my two losses, and then when I started to get back into training my appendix burst, and it was just a crazy kind of when it rains it pours kind of year,” Grispi told MMAWeekly.com.
“It was tough for a while.”
Tough doesn’t even begin to describe the emotional turmoil that Grispi was going through, but still he did his best to always have a smile on his face as he helped lead his family up from the darkness back into the light.
There was no time for sulking or self-pity because Grispi had a new baby that was depending on him, and an ailing father that needed his support.
“I had to stay tough for my kid and then for my dad, too; I can’t let him see me depressed. I want him to see things as normal. You try to bury it down and just keep trucking,” Grispi admitted.
As far as the fights go, the competitor that stepped into the Octagon on those two occasions carried the name Josh Grispi, but it certainly wasn’t the fighter he was trained to be facing the opposition those nights.
“I remember walking out and I just couldn’t get pumped up. I couldn’t get ready to go. I remember in the cage getting hit and not even notice. Like I guess I was taking a ton of knees to the face and I didn’t even notice. I couldn’t get in the groove of things. Looking back, I shouldn’t have even been in there. Nothing against them and I’m not making excuses, they beat me, they were better fighters that day,” Grispi stated.
“I was just going through the motions. I needed money and I wanted to help my dad. I was just rushing everything.”
Things have looked up for the Grispi family lately, however. His dad’s cancer isn’t in remission, but he says no new cancer cells have grown.
His life at home is stronger now and Grispi is really enjoying his life as father to his child. Last and maybe least when talking about all the major issues he’s been dealing with over the last year, Grispi has also found his passion for fighting again.
“When I got back in the gym and I got the urge to train I was like ‘that’s why I do this.’ It’s why I fell in love with it. I never wanted to be famous, I never wanted to be in the UFC as a kid, I was just interested kickboxing and jiu-jitsu, and I just loved the sport. I just did because it was fun and that’s what I’m getting back to now,” said Grispi.
“It feels like it’s my first fight again right now.”
The most important part of this whole story is Grispi has found happiness again within his own family, and now he can find happiness in the Octagon again.
He’ll take that happiness into the Octagon with him on Saturday night when he squares off with Rani Yahya at UFC on Fox 4 in Los Angeles.
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