The life of a fighter is not an easy one. There are daily obstacles, challenges of managing a tight schedule and providing for oneself, and the road to glory is long. Just ask Stephen Regman, who we spoke to for this edition of Behind the Fighter. On Halloween night, October 31, this 24 year old Tiger Schulmann product takes on Darrell “The Saint” Horcher for the CFFC lightweight championship. He prepares for his toughest opponent to date while working a full time job at a hospital. And up until a couple of weeks ago, many of his co-workers and supervisors didn’t even know that he was a professional fighter.
“I usually keep it quiet at work. I don’t walk around yelling ‘Hey, I’m an MMA fighter,'” he told NewYorkFighting. “And they always see me walking around with a gallon of water. They ask, why don’t you just walk around with water bottles? And I said oh, you know, I just want to stay hydrated. One of them went on Facebook one time and happened to see one of the recent pictures that was posted of me and a couple of other fighters on the billboard, and that’s when they came to me with the picture saying ‘So…. what’s this about?’ I really couldn’t say anything else.”
In fact, he works at the same hospital as UFC featherweight Phillipe Nover. “This fight I had to switch up my training a little bit,” he said, “because my last fight I was training in the morning, afternoon, and night. But now working in the hospital I had to switch up my training schedule to get my training sessions in.” We spoke to Regman after a 2 hour training session which had left him “pumped and wide awake.”
When NewYorkFighting spoke to Nover before his return to the UFC, he described a delicate balance between work and training, and said that his coaches work around his schedule. Regman said it was the same for him, but ideally not forever. “Let’s say this UFC career comes through, I want to be one of those fighters who fight a lot. I don’t want to just be sitting around, you know just hanging on to the glory that you’re in the UFC.” Comparisons to Donald Cerrone‘s notoriously grueling fight schedule come to mind. “I want to fight a lot. If that’s the case, I may have to just, all the time, train.”
Training all the time can be tough given the financial demands a fighter faces. “They try to compare us to these NFL players. If I was making money like these NFL players, that’s all I would be doing. I wouldn’t care if I only fought one time per year. But we’re not. It’s a different world.” Regman feels that the UFC Reebok deal has just made things even harder for fighters in the UFC as well. “They just had the payouts for this past UFC, and pretty much everybody on the card only got $2,500 from Reebok. Only one guy, who I don’t even know, got like 10 grand from it, so I’m guessing he’s been fighting in the UFC for a while. It’s kind of silly. Hopefully they switch it back, because I know a lot of people that are losing a lot of money.”
Like many fighters in the tri-state area, Regman has a main training camp but travels to different gyms from time to time for sparring. “I get my main training with Tiger Schulmann‘s, but also bounce around between Budokan and Kurt Pellegrino‘s, so I bounce around a little bit just to get different views from other fighters that I haven’t trained with.” He hasn’t changed the formula for this upcoming fight.
Despite seeing his opponent’s last fight in person, he doesn’t have a specific gameplan either. “Go out there and do what I want to do pretty much. Go out there and play my own gameplan. I’m definitely excited for this fight because I know, from what I’ve seen of Horcher, he likes to go out there and fight. You know, some guys go out there and dibble dabble throughout the fight, some guys go out there and just wrestle, but Darrell’s the kind of fighter who seems to go out there and make it a fight, which is what I’m excited for.” He also believes that Horcher, at 11-1, it his toughest fight to date “by far.”
We spoke to Regman in the week leading up to the fight, so at this point the hard training was over and he was mainly focusing on his weight cut. “Still training, still doing my cardio, hitting pads, hitting the bag, doing my runs, but this week it’s really just focusing on getting the weight down.” But he is used to it now. “Nothing to worry about, no tough cut. I know exactly how do to it now.”
The roots run deep for Regman, and he is not a newcomer to the rigors of fighting, having started his martial arts training at age 12. “What got me into training was Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles. I’m pretty sure it got a bunch of boys into wanting to fight,” he said, with a touch of humor. “I was doing a lot of striking, I started out with a lot of kickboxing fights, Muay Thai, then I did a couple of boxing fights, then when I turned 18 I made the switch into MMA, and at that point I was doing MMA and kickboxing at the same time. Once I went pro I made the commitment to just focus on pro MMA.”
So what makes a man decide he wants to pursue a career punching other grown men in the face? “I saw a couple of my instructors fighting, and then I figured let me try it out. It turned into one fight, and then it turned into ‘I like this, let me try it again, and try it again, and again.’ The passion just grew and grew after every fight. I saw one of my close friends Michael Murray who used to fight. I saw my training partner Lyman Good fighting, Nick Pace when he was coming through the amateur rankings and now the pro, Jimmy Rivera, those guys.”
This championship fight has special meaning for Regman. With a record of 5-1, it will be his first pro championship fight. “The main thing that I’m excited for is that both of us tried out for The Ultimate Fighter show, we both made it pretty far, and then we didn’t end up getting on the show. But I know right now, whoever wins this fight is probably going to get a UFC contract out of it.”
While the road has been long and difficult, Regman has no doubt in his mind about the result. “I just know it’s not going to a decision. It’s gonna be a finish.”
Written by contributing editor – Kyle Antonelli
AC, Borgate, CFFC, MMA, Stepen "The Predator Regman"