Thursday, April 7, 2011

UFC fighter leaves Oregon National Guard to pursue championship dream

Story and photos by Cory Grogan, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs

Some might say Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Rick "The Horror" Story has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde persona when it comes to fighting in the UFC 'octagon'. But according to people who know him well, he is anything but a horror outside the ring.

"He is the nicest guy you will ever meet, but when the fight starts he will punish you," said UFC training teammate Ray Armstrong.

"I have trained with some of the best Mixed Martial Arts fighters, and his work ethic is the best I've ever seen," Armstrong added.

Armstrong said Story also thinks about others and always wants them to improve--a trait which caught the attention of his former commanders and trainers in the Oregon National Guard.

According to Maj. Travis Lee, Rick Story had a bright future ahead of him in the Oregon National Guard.

"He would have had a promising career--he depicted the quintessential officer with his background and value set," said Lee, who in 2005, helped train Story during ROTC at Southern Oregon University.

"He is a loss to the organization," he added.

Lee, who now serves as the Executive Officer for 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment in Ashland, Ore., said Story is a humble and hard-working Soldier who had a bright future as an officer in the Oregon Army National Guard.

But Story gave it all up to become a top fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
On May 28, Story will battle one of the best Welterweight UFC fighters in the world, Thiago Alves, in Las Vegas, Nev.

Story said he is thankful for his time in the Oregon National Guard and that the benefits he received not only helped him finish college at SOU, but also helped shape him as a person.

"I learned how much you can get done if everyone works together," he said. "That and the importance of integrity are probably the two most significant things that carry over into my career now."

After spending 18 months training to become an officer in the Army, Story learned about teamwork and attention to detail.

For anyone who is struggling to get ahead in life and motivated enough to work hard, joining the Army is a 'no-brainer,' Story said.

For Story, leaving a promising Army career was difficult, but he had to devote himself fully to his new dream.

"Being in the National Guard conflicted with my training," Story said. "I am striving to be a champion and training six days a week."

Story is scheduled to officially leave the military on April 24 and pursue his dream of becoming the UFC Mixed Martial Arts Champion (MMA).

"MMA is a full time job, and coming to the gym is not an option," he added.

Story is also the part-owner of Brave Legion gym in Vancouver, Wash., and a member of the emerging MMA Brave Legion Team.

His training is evident in his physique. His 5-foot, 10-inches frame, tan complexion, short dark hair, and a compact, but solid, pit-bull-like build, are offset by his humble, soft-spoken persona.

Contrary to his quiet demeanor, Story also exudes an air of confidence, and is a fierce competitor. But things weren't always that way.

In seventh grade, Story found athletics difficult, but he kept working at it and eventually blossomed. He got on a conditioning program and listened to his coaches. Eventually, he had some success as a football player and wrestler in high school.

"I started to realize my physical ability at that point," he said.

In college, he lost every match as a freshman wrestler at Pacific Lutheran University.

"It made me not want to fall short anymore," Story said. "I knew that I could work even harder."

Listening to Story, one gets a sense that personal adversity and defeat helped him quickly develop a strong sense of where he wanted to go in his athletic career.

"I worked my butt off, and by my junior year, I had put in enough time and effort, and had the mental clarity to know that I was strong enough to make it to the national championships," he said.

Despite his best efforts, Story placed second in a national wrestling tournament during his senior year at Southern Oregon University.

Part of Story's easy-going nature comes from his upbringing. According to his close, long-time friend, high school classmate and former college roommate, Travis Robinson, even though Story wasn't always the best athlete in school, his work ethic and tenacity helped him realize the goals he set for himself.

"He is the hardest working person you'll ever meet," said Robinson. "Rick wasn't always the fastest, biggest, or most athletic guy, but coaches always knew he would do the right thing."

Story admits not having many luxuries as a boy. At age six, he moved into his grandmother's single-wide trailer in Spanaway, Wash. She put the young Story on a regular schedule, which taught him discipline. She also showed him the value of how things were done in 'the olden days'.

"She taught me manners," Story said.

According to Robinson, the boyhood lessons imparted on Story were long-lasting.

"He is very family oriented and whenever he comes back home he always makes an effort to see his friends and family," Robinson said.

Story would always say that once he made it 'big', he was going to buy his grandmother a new house, Robinson said.

"His loyalty to friends and family is truly remarkable," he added.

While Story's grandmother was busy helping him build a strong work ethic, interaction with his coaches and friends developed his competitive drive and self confidence. It is something Story 'pays forward' to his training partners and other gym members.

Brave Legion teammate and training partner, D.J. Linderman, who fought March 26 at the Bellator Light-heavyweight tournament, which aired on MTV2, said he has dropped over 30 pounds since training with Story at the gym over the last few months.

"I have never trained harder anywhere else or seen someone work harder than Rick," Linderman said.

Mike Ritchey, Story's college wrestling coach at SOU, said he is a special individual and says some of his success can be traced back to his military experience.

"I have coached at lot of guys who have been a part of the military and I definitely think it gives young people an advantage," Ritchey said.

"ROTC gives these guys a level of discipline that's hard to find in youth today," he added. "They learn how to be responsible for a larger group, and that their actions can screw a lot of other people up."

According to Ritchey, Story can excel at anything to which he sets his mind.

"He is a self-made guy who has worked as hard as anybody I have coached," he added.

Pat White, Story's current coach, and the person who gave Story his nickname 'Horror,' said while the members of the Brave Legion Team are becoming an elite group of fighters, the driving force and integral part of that team is Story.

"Rick is a great leader and team member," White said. "He makes everyone feel welcome."

Story's long-time friend Robinson concurs with all the positive accolades, but adds that Story is the most honest, straight-forward person you will ever meet.

"Rick is a special person," he said. "There is not one person who has anything negative to say about him."

Hearing all the positive accolades about Story, his nickname 'The Horror' seems out of place.

"Its because of my fighting style," Story said of his Mr. Hyde persona in the ring. "I like hurting people."

Story admits having a completely different mentality inside the fighting octagon.

"I'm all business," Story said. "I work as hard as I can 100 percent of the time, and I look completely different (in the octagon) than I do on the outside."

Story's fight is scheduled for May 28 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. Part of the fight card is scheduled to be televised on SPIKE TV and is available on Pay-Per-View.

For more information on MMA or fitness training at Brave Legion Gym, visit their website here.

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