As the snow came down in Brooklyn Thursday morning, it probably felt like home for Rick Glenn, a Midwesterner to his core, and one used to mixing winter weather with his fighting.
“I trained in my uncle’s garage for about a year,” he recalls. “We would wrestle out in the snow in his yard and do takedown defense, flip tires, carry rocks.”
He chuckles, almost in disbelief at what once constituted his MMA education.
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“I do appreciate things a lot more because of that,” Glenn said, confirming with a laugh that there was no juice bar in the corner of the garage.”
When a fighter comes up that way, the usual rules don’t apply. Guys like Glenn don’t crack under pressure, they don’t travel with entourages and they don’t fight their battles on Twitter. They also don’t get the first-time UFC jitters.
“I was a little nervous, just typical fight nerves,” Glenn said of his UFC debut last September. “I like being a little nervous just to keep me on edge. But I didn’t feel any big stage, UFC jitters. I can see how most people can get them, but it was more rewarding than anything for me and, win or lose, I wanted to put on a good show and impress the UFC.”
He did. Glenn didn’t beat Evan Dunham in Hidalgo. But after taking the bout on short notice, the Marshalltown, Iowa native gave Dunham hell, earning a Fight of the Night bonus. That bonus allowed Glenn to quit his job at Costco and begin training full-time. And though he enjoyed his job in the store’s tire center, giving his notice was something he won’t forget.
“It was really satisfying,” he said. “I’ve been fighting and working towards this goal for about 11 years now, and ever since I started fighting, I knew someday that I wanted to be in the UFC and was gonna be in the UFC. I just didn’t think it would take that long.”
At only 27 years old, Glenn has compiled 23 pro fights, winning 18 of them. On Saturday, he will be in Barclays Center, fighting a Brooklynite in Brooklyn. But even though the fans of opponent Phillipe Nover will likely boo him, he doesn’t mind playing the man in the black hat.
“I’m cool with that,” Glenn said. “I’ve been booed, I’ve been spit on, had beers thrown at me before, so hopefully I won’t get injured from the fans, but I think I’ll win the fans over and I should win some respect from the locals.”
Glenn talks of those moments on the local circuit matter-of-factly, when fights weren’t just taking place in the cage.
“We had shows where we had to leave right away after one of our fights,” he said. “The locals get crazy and it’s just better to take off.”
Nothing tops the story of one show back home, though.
“The sheriff had to get on the catwalk of the cage and spray mace down into the crowd to disperse the people from fighting.”
Now that’s a tough crowd. And situations like that make tough fighters, fighters like Rick Glenn.
“Where I’m from, a small town in Central Iowa, there are a lot of dead-end jobs,” he said. “A lot of people are punching the clock, they’re grinding, and I know people who just hate their life. I grew up with nothing. I remember waking up and not having breakfast as a kid and going hungry for some meals for a little bit. I’ve gone through all kinds of struggles, and in fighting, that’s one thing that would contribute to a lot of toughness for a lot of Midwest fighters. We’re making something out of nothing.”