Thursday, May 20, 2010

First impressions are not always lasting

There is a Proverb that reads; "The first impressions are the most lasting." This simply means, try to make a positive impression when you first meet or present something to someone, because those first memories of the incident will last a long time. For me, my first impression of MMA Fighter Frank Trigg is generally the same impression most people got when they first heard him during the pre-fight promo for his first fight in the UFC back in 2003, 'who does this guy think he is? He seems like a real *#@%!'.

You can pretty much replace those symbols with any negative noun you'd like and it would fit. However, that impression of Trigg only lasted about a year for me and seven years later I know that he isn't what I thought he was; although he'll be the first one to quickly tell you that he is. That's just Trigg, which just adds to the complexity of who he really is.

Who is Frank Trigg? A professional MMA fighter, pro wrestler, decorated amateur wrestler, entrepreneur, Radio & TV analyst, reality TV star, actor and most importantly, family man; he's been a success story at every level of endeavor so far. Yet, he'd have you believe it's just the opposite; "If I can't be the best at what I do, I'm not going to do it." Those words are what drive Frank Trigg and what ultimately keep him from realizing what a success story his life and career have been so far.

Originally from upstate New York, Trigg, the product of a Bi-racial marriage, grew up in a large family as one of eight boys; well technically it was nine. This is just another example of how difficult he is to gauge. When I tried to confirm how many brothers he actually had, 7 or 8, his response to my question was simply, "yes." Typical Trigg he finally explained that he had 6 brothers and 2 stepbrothers, one of which died in an auto accident; this tragically after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.

With such diversity, sibling rivalry and natural athletic talent, it was only a matter of time before he started to make a name for himself, which is what he did with wrestling. Drawn to the martial arts at a young age, wrestling was just another art for him to train in. His agility and speed coupled with the heart he developed being one of nine brothers was a formula for success that would ultimately land him a scholarship to The University of Oklahoma.

While at OU he had a successful collegiate career and eventually earned his Bachelor's Degree in Public Affairs and Administration in 1997. As if wrestling at the Division One collegiate level wasn't difficult enough, while there he began Judo training under legendary instructor Pat Burris; eventually earning his black belt and second degree ranking. He also took a coaching position upon graduation and continued to wrestle, eventually becoming a finalist at the 2000 Olympic Trials. If you think that seems like a full plate, think again because in 1997 he also began his career as an MMA Fighter, which would put him on yet another successful path.

He won his first seven fights and ten of his first eleven, along the way winning the World Fighting Alliance Welterweight Championship. It would eventually bring him to the UFC where he fought twice for the welterweight championship against Matt Hughes in one of the most heated rivalries in the history of the organization. Upon losing to Hughes and current champ Georges St. Pierre, he was released and figured his fighting days were over.

He could now devote more time to his outside business interests, which included part ownership in a gym, his own urban clothing line 'Triggonomics' and most importantly his broadcasting career, which he began as a co-host on the daily Internet radio show MMAWeekly with former host and mentor Ryan Bennett. It is on that show that I started to see a different side of Trigg back in 2004, which expanded even more when he became a co-host on MMAJunkie radio later on.

That experience coupled with his knowledge parlayed into color commentating for the Pride organization as well. Also, at the urging of his then fiancee, now wife Nici, he took part in a VH-1 reality show called 'Kept'. Things couldn't be going better, and then tragedy struck again. Like his stepbrother, Ryan Bennett was tragically killed in an auto accident in 2006. This struck Trigg hard and with no daily show now to get his MMA fix, he felt a void. How would he fill that void?

Doing the one thing he did better than talking about MMA, he got back into it. Once again, he built up his name and ranking, along the way winning another title in Icon Sport. That successful run garnered him a second stint in the UFC. Unfortunately, his first two fights back were losses and he was released a second time. It should be noted his two fights back in the UFC were against a current #1 contender and a former world champion. In others words, as only Trigg would want it he fought the best.

So where is he today? While he no longer has the clothing line or the gym, he is quite busy. He's color commentating again for various organizations here and abroad such as HDNet Fights, Dream and Sengoku. He's also working as a trainer through Randy Couture and a contract he has with the NFL. He recently came back from working with the Atlanta Falcons, where he trained them using MMA tactics they could apply on the field and in their own training.

He's also busier than ever being a devoted husband and father to his three children Frankie, Kiara and Stone. Frankie is a high school wrestler and when I asked Trigg if he aspired to pursue a career in fighting he said, "No, he wants to be a sports agent and get paid to manage athletes. He figures his biggest client will eventually be his little brother, who at nearly two years of age is already showing signs he will be an athlete as well."

Extremely well read, he was nicknamed Triggipedia while co-hosting Junkie Radio because he has opinions and knowledge on just about any subject raised. When I asked him about his long-term goals, he named just one. He would like to be a TV show host ala Ryan Seacrest on American Idol. I think that with his engaging personality, gift of gab and long history of success in everything he's dabbled in so far, he has a pretty good chance. I know I won't bet against it, especially now that I've gotten to know the man and realize first impressions are not always lasting as they say.

I want to personally thank Frank Trigg, not only for granting me this interview, but also for being a friend long before I ever considered writing about MMA.

Breaking News; Trigg has just announced that he and Nici are expecting a baby boy due in October, the 4th for Trigg and the 2nd for Nici. Congrats and God Bless to Frank and Nici!

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