Vernon Bryant / Dallas Morning News
Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 | midnight
- Vitor Belfort is back, TKOs Rich Franklin in first round
- UFC 103 Slideshow
- Vitor Belfort puts on phenomenal performance in UFC return
- White not impressed with Mayweather’s comeback victory
- Breaking down UFC 103: Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
- Vitor Belfort, Efrain Escudero miss mark at UFC 103 weigh-ins
- UFC 103: Breakdown and Picks
- Naturally UFC 103 event is larger in Lonestar State
- Fireside chat with Dana White
- Video: The Return of "The Phenom"
- Bonus machine Tyson Griffin not worried about cash award in bout with Hermes Franca
- Frank Trigg eyeing one last title run
- Rich Franklin not thinking about title shots
- Mirko Filipovic back for good
- Video: UFC 103: Prepare for the Unexpected
- Complete UFC 103 coverage
When Rick Story woke up last Sunday in Dallas, he had to pinch himself to make sure what happened Saturday night in the American Airlines Center was indeed real.
While the Washington native’s big win wasn’t quite lottery-huge — after all no one had claimed the 55-million jackpot the night before in the Lone Star state — the dollar amount on the check coming his way definitely constituted a life-changing number.
“I don’t know how to explain it. It was kind of like winning the lottery, but not very many people win the lottery. It was just very surreal,” said Story, whose second-round submission win over Brian Foster at UFC 103 earned him two $65,000 fight bonuses — for a whopping $130,000 more than he figured to take home, considering his fight contract was worth a meager $6,000.
“I’m was extremely, extremely happy. I was almost speechless,” he said.
So, too, was Foster after he learned of his own good fortune.
Story and his opponent were in a back room watching Vitor Belfort defeat Rich Franklin and talking about their recent slugfest when in walked UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva.
“We were joking back and forth, talking about how we hoped our futures in the UFC were OK because of our exciting fight, and Dana came up to me and told me congratulations, you’re rich. You just won Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night,” Story said.
“I shook their hands and said, ‘Thank you,’ and they said, no, ‘Thank you.’ It was just awesome.”
After the initial shock of his first UFC victory wore off, the Braveheart Fight Club member started to realize what his big win really meant.
“I had just a ton of bills to pay off. That was the first thing I did when I got back home and got the check on Wednesday,” said the 25-year-old Story, who improved to 8-3 in his young mixed martial arts career.
No big splurges?
“Well, I did buy a few items to upgrade my computer, but nothing flashy,” Story said.
“I want to use the money so I can keep training at a high level. After all, I wasn’t making any income there for awhile.”
The one-time National Guardsman had a near year layoff from fighting as he tried to join the UFC and thus couldn't participate in any other fight organizations. The welterweight was invited to Las Vegas for UFC 94 to be a fill-in for Karo Parisyan, if he couldn’t fight Kim Dong-hyun.
Parisyan was able to go and Story had to sit on the sidelines. But being so close to the action in the Octagon only increased his desire to be in the world’s largest MMA organization.
Story finally got his chance in June when he faced John Hathaway at UFC 99 in Germany.
“I was really excited, but I was also very nervous. I think a lot of the things going on with it being my first big match, I wasn’t ready for and I didn’t put on my best performance,” said Story, who lost to Hathaway by unanimous decision.
“But after the fight, Silva came up and told me and my manager, Pat White, that the UFC was going to give me one more chance, but I can’t lose.”
Story — who during his first year of collegiate wrestling at Pacific Lutheran University couldn’t figure out any way to win as he went an astounding 0-17 — said Silva’s message served as a daily motivation.
“But I really went to work. I put everything I had into making it in the UFC,” said Story, who during his senior year of wrestling after transferring to Southern Oregon University took second in the nation.
“I guess in many ways the stories are kind of similar, because going into my last year of wrestling, something just mentally clicked where I told myself I wasn’t going to lose anymore. It was the same way with the match with Foster.”
The two bumped heads during the official weigh-ins and wasted little time once inside the Octagon as both came out throwing haymakers.
A big blow by Foster caught Story square in his nose and he thought he broke it. But the large pool of blood must have been just the extra reminder he needed, because the “The Horror” came back in the second stanza and submitted Foster while inside his guard.
“I was a little surprised, but I’ve done that a few times in practice,” Story said of the unusual stance where he locked in his sub.
“I could hear him wheezing and I knew he was in trouble so I just tightened down.”
Tightening up his game and taking care of White, UFC teammate Mike Pierce (a winner last week at the Fight Night event in Oklahoma City) and fellow Braveheart gym members is how Story plans on sharing his windfall.
“I want to invest some of it in the gym, because all these guys really helped me out,” Story said.
And while there’s no substitute for the unplanned cash boon, Story said his favorite memory of Dallas was the roar of the crowd after recording his first win.
“I’m not gonna lie, the extra money was awesome. But right there in the heat of the moment in the Octagon, the biggest thrill was getting my first UFC win,” Story said with a laugh.
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.