Jason Brilz is one of those guys who fights because he really likes to fight. It might sound obvious. Don’t all fighters like to fight? Yes, to varying degrees, but, like anything else in life, once it becomes a profession and not just a passion, a lot of the excitement that was there in the beginning fades away.

It might sound counterintuitive, but the Nebraskan wrestler believes that not devoting all his time to the sport has not only kept his love alive for competing and training, but it has kept him injury-free as well.

If, for some reason, Brilz were to never fight again starting tomorrow, he would certainly miss the competition. However, he has a fulfilling life outside of the cage, too. The former UFC fighter just celebrated his seventh year as a firefighter, and he is thoroughly enjoying watching his daughters grow up.

Brilz (L) (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Brilz (L) (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Thankfully for fight fans, Brilz will be competing again, and very soon. He is scheduled to face Bellator veteran Raphael Davis this coming Friday at Titan FC 28.

Even though the 38-year-old has found a balance that works for him, he still finds many problems with how younger fighters approach the business.

“The reality is you can only train so many hours a day anyways,” Brilz told The MMA Corner. “You’ve seen in different interviews, the fighters go, ‘Oh yeah, I was playing Xbox for three hours, then I go train, and then I go home and take a nap.’”

Even if some fighters spend more time on average than Brilz in the gym, the veteran fighter was quick to point out how you reach a point of diminishing returns. No matter your age, overtraining is a very common occurrence in the sport of mixed martial arts.

“You’re only looking at like four or five hours out of your whole day that you’re training,” continued Brilz. “That leaves a lot of extra time to do a lot of extra stuff.”

Brilz uses that time to focus on being a father and husband, and also working as a firefighter. There is often speculation about fighters who have other occupations. How good could they be if all their focus was on fighting?

Brilz admitted that he’d tried that approach for half a year, but it wasn’t for him.

“It kind of doesn’t make it as much fun,” Brilz admitted. “Then it’s more of a job, and I have to do well. Now you have to win. Your income for that three or four months is all of a sudden cut in half if you’re not winning. That’s a big mental burden onto somebody.”

Brilz enjoys spending more time with his family. He has enjoyed watching his daughters, now ages 9 and 6, go from babies crawling around the gym to girls competing in soccer and having dance recitals. The Brilz girls have always been in the gym with their father.

“They’ve been at the gym with me since they were born. When they were born, my wife was working and I’d take them to the gym,” said Brilz. “They’d still be in their baby seats.

“If I got 30 or 40 minutes of rolling, I was blessed. I was lucky, but there were a lot of times where they’d wake up, they’d be crying. You know, poopy diapers and all that good stuff, and I’m trying to change them and not drip sweat all over them.”

Brilz (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Brilz (Jade Kimmel/The MMA Corner)

Brilz was very reminiscent about his 14-year fight career. He was honest about the fact that he only wants to compete for maybe two more years.

“The training camps are getting a little bit harder,” he admitted. “My kids are going to start being more active. They’re only in third [grade] and kindergarten right now, but they’re slowly picking up more things to do, and I don’t want to miss out on that. I don’t want to hold them back

“I’ve pretty much done everything I’ve wanted to in this sport, plus a lot more.”

Even so, Brilz still feels he can compete with the top level in the 205-pound weight division. At the very least, he still has the desire to compete.

“I am doing this to have fun and to keep fighting, but I do like fighting the best that I can. Some of my last three fights have been up-and-comers, more or less, but this is a pretty legit guy,” Brilz said, referring to his upcoming opponent, Raphael Davis.

“That’s what I miss about the UFC. I really do miss fighting the best guys, so I’m trying to go back there. I would love to fight everybody. Just once. I don’t care where they’re at or anything.”

Brilz is one of those fighters that gives off the impression that he’d fight for free. Although he admits that the traveling and paying off bills has been a huge perk of the job, Brilz doesn’t care about the sizzle, just the steak. “What’s in a name?” asks Brilz. As long as he’s feeding his competitive hunger, he’s satisfied.

The Nebraskan is also happy to be a stepping stone for those up-and-comers trying to make a name for themselves. However, he’s not going to make it easy for anyone.

At almost 40 years old, Brilz understands that the sport inevitably has to pass him by. He’s not only accepting, but also welcoming of that. And who knows? Maybe those Brilz girls will be the future of women’s MMA.

“They’ve been at CrossFit with me. They climb things; they run around,” Brilz said of his daughters. “My oldest, she’s a little beast. If she would get into wrestling, I think she would do quite well. I mean, right now, she’s taking boys down.”

Jason would like to thank his coaches and training partners from Elite Performance, DC Management, Dynamic Fasteners and Cage Combat Fight Wear. Follow Brilz on Twitter: @JasonBrilz

About The Author

Zach Miller
Staff Writer

Zach is a Boston native and has had a fascination with martial arts since playing Mortal Kombat at five years old. He was introduced to MMA after watching The Ultimate Fighter 5: Team Pulver vs. Team Penn. A recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Zach seeks to one day become a full-time MMA journalist. In addition to watching the sport, he has also trained in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and tae kwon do. Zach has also written for NortheastMMA.