AC/DC once wailed: “It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock ’n’ roll.”
It’s an equally long path if you want to rock ’n’ rumble.
The UFC’s Nick Ring considers himself living proof.
Like countless other fighters around the globe, Ring is stuck in the vicious tug of war between full-time training and paying the bills.
“It’s not easy,” says the Calgarian, who has an unblemished 10-0 record as a mixed martial artist.
Since appearing on The Ultimate Fighter 11 — in which he was the first overall pick by coach Tito “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz — Ring has re-dedicated himself to training full-time.
“In the past, I was everything from a bartender to a doorman so I could train during the day,” says Ring.
“Now, I rent out a bunch of rooms at my house and fully focus on training.
“It’s tough because no one pays you to train. You get a windfall after a fight, but that goes quick once you pay the bills.”
At 31, Ring admits a full-time job would stand in the way of his training and ultimately hamper his dreams of staying and moving up UFC ranks.
“Up until about a year ago, I was also teaching at a gym. I’ve stopped that now to concentrate on my own training,” says Ring. “Right now, it’s my time to be selfish.”
Sponsor space on his fight trunks helps make ends meet, but many sponsors are skeptical to take out ad space on a fighter who may not appear in televised fights.
Ring says fighters who are sponsored early in their careers remain loyal to those who took a chance on an up-and-coming fighter.
Still, the expenses don’t disappear. Healthy eating, supplements, fight gear and training all come at a cost.
Ring, who trains in Calgary, is off to Montreal next week to train at Tristar Gym — home to UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, among others.
Then it’s off to Sydney, Australia, to fight Riki Fukuda of Japan at UFC 127 on Feb. 27.
Travel and gym expenses come out of fighters’ pockets.
Even if Ring wins in Australia, his take will be less than $20,000. Less than $10,000 should he lose.
But Ring says he’s determined to break into the upper echelon of middleweights.
Fighting through tough times is nothing new for the one-time biology student.
Ring started off as a kickboxer before falling in love with mixed martial arts.
When he injured his knee in 2006, he was forced from MMA competition for nearly three years.
The longtime scrapper took up pro boxing during the hiatus, and compiled a 4-1 record.
Though his background is that of a striker, Ring has seen the majority of his wins come via submission.
He attributes that to his love of the ground game and his natural ability to grapple.
“I guess I am considered a striker first and foremost,” says Ring, “but things have gone very well for me as far as the wrestling aspects are concerned.”