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Charlie Radtke poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on September 6, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Charles Radtke Is In This For Legacy

Despite A Later Start, Charles Radtke Has Lofty Expectations For Himself Ahead Of His UFC Debut At UFC 293: Adesanya vs Strickland

According to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute, American bison can range anywhere from 5.5 to 6.5 feet tall and weight from 1,800 to 2,400 pounds, making it very safe to say that former bison rancher Charlie Radtke will never be intimidated by fighting someone weighing 170 pounds.

“I guess because you're dealing with these animals, you get okay with it,” Radtke said of going from ranching to fighting. “You're understanding that there's that push and pull. This animal obviously could destroy you at any minute, but you just have to kind of accept faith for what it is. It's a really deep connection that you have with these animals. Some of 'em, the males will live until 20 years old. The females last until 40. So some of these animals that we had were older than I was. So they're smart, they’re witty, they're sneaky. That's why I think that my grandfather always told me that, ‘You're a buffalo. Because whenever things happen, whenever adversity hits you, you go through the storm; you're not cattle, you don't turn away from the storm. You run through the storm like a buffalo does. And that's actually real terminology. When a buffalo senses a storm coming through, they will run straight through it to get to the other side.”

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Hence the UFC newcomer’s nickname, “Chuck Buffalo,” one he owns with pride, not just because it came from his grandfather, but because being on the ranch and around these animals was his life for much of his 33 years on this Earth. First, he was the little kid opening and closing the chute for the animals to be weighed. Then he worked on the ranch before co-owning it with his grandfather until, at 31, he decided to make a full run at mixed martial arts. 

“There came a time where I wasn't really sure if that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” said Radtke. “I wanted to see what my potential could be in this sport, and eventually I told my grandpa, I was like, you know what? I'm going to end up just moving down to Florida. I really want to give this thing a shot. He was fully supportive about it, too. He said, ‘You got to live your own dreams. This is my dream. You got to go after your dream.’ So I did, and so I did it from a young boy, probably from, nine, ten years old all the way until I was 31.” 

Just 2-2 as a pro at the time, Radtke’s full-time assault on the sport began in 2021 and he’s since gone 5-1 with three finishes, earning him a call from the UFC to face Blood Diamond on this weekend’s UFC 293 card in Sydney. It’s been a fast track to the top of the sport, which makes you wonder if he wonders where he’d be right now if he left the rancher’s life behind a decade ago.

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“I think everybody may say something like that, but what I think to myself, too, is that I wouldn't be as mature, and I wouldn't have everything in line like I do now,” said Radtke. “Being at the age I’m at, a lot of people are like, ‘Oh, he's 33, so he's an older guy, right?’ Well, you could say that, but you also have to determine ‘What does this diet look like? What are his activities outside the gym, what does this guy do on a day-to-day basis?’ I've taken care of my body, so me being 33 is actually a benefit to me because some of the younger guys that are going to be coming in, maybe that I'll be facing, will actually be at a deficit. Because, as you know, the older you get, the less excited you get about certain situations.”

Charlie Radtke poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on September 6, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Charlie Radtke poses for a portrait during a UFC photo session on September 6, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

In other words, don’t expect to see Radtke hitting every after-party in town after he takes care of his business in the Octagon like someone a decade younger might be tempted to do.

Adesanya vs Strickland Stats Breakdown | Order UFC 293

“I would say I'm more mature and I am in a professional sport filled with amateurs. That's what I feel. I think a lot of the people, they don't take it seriously. You watch tennis, you watch football, there's a lot of sports science behind it, and these people are taking it seriously, like (Novak) Djokovic in tennis or (Patrick) Mahomes in the NFL. That's what I bring to the table. So what really gives me the key is that I am obsessed with a growth mindset to make sure that I'm putting everything out there that I need to and focusing not just on the body and getting in tip top physical shape, but practicing on working on the mindset.”

Don’t get it twisted, though. A guy nicknamed “Chuck Buffalo” can’t be all work and no play. It’s just that he’s got a goal and he doesn’t have 20 years to get there, so for now, the eyes are focused on one thing.

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“I am a funny guy. I can talk s**t, I can do all those things,” he said. “But to be really honest, I don't do the party thing. I really got a close group of friends I like to hang around, and my friends are people who are my training partners or people I've previously trained with. So my lifestyle is only focused on one goal. I've achieved two of my goals so far, which is to be a CFFC champion, and another one was to make it to the UFC. Now there's only one last goal. The last goal for me is to go in there, put on beautiful performances, talk s**t along the way, make sure I'm pointing out people when they ask me on the microphone afterwards, fights that make sense and that are going to bring me to the title as soon as possible. Because I have one goal: I get the title, as soon as I get that title, I put it down in the middle of the cage and I'm going to move on with the next part of my life.” 

It would be an unforgettable ending to a career, but if I’m playing devil’s advocate, here, if Radtke wins the title and then gets presented with a big money first title defense, does he still walk away?

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“Yeah, I would,” he says with no hesitation. “Money doesn't mean anything to me. I'm not doing it for the money. I'm doing it for a personal legacy to say, you know what? I decided to chase after something and go after it, and I'm putting full effort towards it. Not for the money, not for anything, but for legacy. That's it.”

Then we may have to start calling him “Chuck Champion.”

UFC 293: Adesanya vs Strickland took place live from Qudos Arena in Sydney, Australia on September 9, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!