"Work hard and Never ever give up" King of Sacramento, Max "Pain" Griffin, Exclusive Interview with Marco Derhy
As part of my series about “MMA Inspiring Success Stories,” I had the pleasure of interviewing UFC Welterweight, King of Sacramento, Max "Pain" Griffin. He went viral for severing his opponent's ear in a brutal TKO stoppage, and he's now known as "The Ear Collector." He has been a professional competitor since 2009 and has also competed for Tachi Palace Fights, where he was the welterweight champion.
MD: Thank you for joining us! Can you briefly outline for our readers your life's backstory?
Max: I did martial arts from age 4 –13. My dad pushed me to be the best; I was even invited to compete in the Olympics. Unfortunately, my dad moved away when I was 13, so I had to take a break from the sport. I became the man of the house and took care of my two younger brothers while my mom worked hard to provide for us. Without a father figure’s guidance in high school, I got into trouble running the streets, but it taught me some major life lessons.
MD: What brought you to this career path? Can you share a story about how you got here?
Max: I was at a reggae music festival in Humboldt county when I was 21 and had a "calling" that I was going to be a fighter! Fifteen years ago, I dedicated my entire life to becoming the best from that point on.
MD: In what ways are you open to exploring post-career opportunities?
Max: In ALL ways. I’m aware that my fight career has a time limit, so I’m already making moves to expand my reach and become involved within the areas I’m truly passionate about. I am a firm believer in “The kids are our future,” so I use my time to mentor youth at local schools. Using my reach, I’d like to help my community and create a Max Pain non-profit organization that focuses on helping low-income families and children struggling in school. Like most people, I’m also exploring options in real estate investing, and I am currently pursuing some great opportunities with NFTs and in the metaverse. A personal passion of mine is sports commentating- I love the in-the-moment excitement while using my expertise in the sport. Be on the lookout for my very own podcast discussing all things- MMA, business, cannabis, food…. Coming soon!
MD: Can you share your struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic in the early days? How did it affect you, training, and how did you adapt?
Max: My last fight before COVID was actually the final UFC fight before the world locked down. It was an uncertain and scary time for my family and me, but I couldn’t just sit on the couch as a professional athlete. I knew I had to keep my mind and body sharp and ready for my next opponent. I did at-home workouts in my garage, picked up a road bike to cruise around my neighborhood, and eventually was able to sneak back into gyms with a select few teammates. I’ve been pushing hard ever since then!
MD: You have a huge fight coming up on March 26th, 2022, against UFC's #8 ranked Neil Magney. How prepared are you for this fight?
Max: I'm 100% prepared to defeat my opponent by any means possible. Now it's just time to wait for the moment to come!
MD: What are your expectations for this upcoming fight?
Max: On March 26th, 2022, I will have my greatest performance to date. I will make a statement in the octagon and elevate myself into the top 10 rankings in the world.
MD: One of your passions is community enrichment and advancement. You also frequently mentor youths and deliver motivations for students at school assemblies. What is the inspiration behind this?
Max: I feel that the kids are our future, and if I can help inspire or motivate these kids to be great, then there's a good chance they can make a significant impact in our world.
MD: If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Max: Focus on the kids, man! They need good role models to show them that their dreams CAN come true! So many people live regular lives stuck in the same routine, and kids only know that. We need to encourage them to work hard and change the world, to really be who and what they want to be, because I'm proof that they can!
MD: Which tips would you recommend to young aspiring people looking to venture into the UFC world to help them thrive and not "burn out"?
Max: Learn. Whether it's watching YouTube videos or going to a new gym. Be a student of the game. You can't be a know-it-all in this sport. But embrace hardship, the grind of what we do. Have an unwavering belief in yourself and keep pushing. There will be obstacles; you will lose and fail but learn from it all and let it drive you to be better.
MD: Do you have a favorite 'life lesson' quote that profoundly impacted your life? Can you share a story?
Max: Not a quote but a story. Out of thousands, I was selected to compete in Ultimate Fighter Challenge. The promotion hyped me as their up and comer, and I went in there and lost. I was embarrassed and depressed. I wanted to go home and hide in the house. But it was a pivotal moment in my career. I went back to the gym and was head down grinding, working my butt off, and went on a nasty 6-fight win streak.
MD: Our readers would love some more profound insights. What are your "Secrets for success"? Would you please share a story or example with our readers and me for each?
Max: Work hard and Never Ever give up. When you feel tired or defeated by the game, use that to push on! Keep going, NO MATTER WHAT.
MD: None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Max: My crazy belief in myself got me to where I am today. I've spent tens of thousands of hours in the gym - giving my ALL - blood, sweat, and tears.
MD: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world you'd ask for advice or inspiration, alive or dead?
Max: Kobe, hands down! He was actually a guest speaker at the WME|IMG UFC Athlete Retreat in 2017. I was so captivated by how he spoke with such passion, and it was indeed a profound experience. His Mamba mentality transcends in all aspects- business, dedication, work ethic, and love for the game.
MD: Is there a person in the world or the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? They might see this.
Max: I’d want to eat Mom’s Spaghetti with Eminem. I really respect him as an artist and the grind it took him to get him where he is today. His music speaks to me personally, and it’s got me through some of the most challenging times. He is truly the G.O.A.T. in my book.
MD: How can our readers follow you on social media or a website?