History Of MMA: Fred Ettish

Below is a brief portion of an upcoming documentary entitled the History of MMA. This clip highlights Fred Ettish and his unique experiences as a mixed martial artist. The documentary was created by filmmaker Bobby Razak. I’m privileged to have been briefly involved in one of Razak’s previous videos and he always does a great job.

Within the clip below, you’ll learn of the struggles that Ettish endured as a fighter and more importantly how he refused to succumb to his critics. He recently returned to the cage at age 53 to earn a victory and balance his record at 1-1.


“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Please like & share:


  1. Incredible story,that reminds me on the quote: “Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”- Bruce Lee (no matter if Martial Arts or real Life!)

  2. I just don’t know how wise it is for someone 53 years of age to compete in something as demanding as MMA against people half his/her age. I don’t know if Herschel Walker is still pursuing his MMA career but even though he’s still an incredible physical specimen, let’s face it 50 isn’t 25. George Foreman recaptured the Heavyweight Crown at 45-46, but people tend to forget he was taking a beating along the way from the much younger Moorer, and add to this that Big George didn’t have to worry about grappling, kicks, knees, elbows etc. I’m glad Mr.Ettish got rid of the demons haunting him from losing his previous MMA fight, but I just think he took losing a fight a little too hard.

  3. Thanks for that clip Ross. I read about Fred Ettish in a history of MMA and the account was very sympathetic. He was a reserve on the night of his first fight and up until half an hour or so before the fight he was running errands to help other fighters. Then another fighter pulled out and Ettish was called to step up. Fighting in the UFC would be hard enough with a lot of time to prepare. Imagine having only half an hour to change your mindset from errand boy to fighter. And afterwards he was subjected to ridicule, including an internet site devoted solely to promoting Ettish style martial arts (the sole technique of which was to roll up in a ball and take a beating) which was grossly unfair.

    In the clip Ettish comes across as being very thoughtful and having great mental strength. He didn’t make any excuses for his first performance, and to get out there and have another go at 53 years old speaks volumes about his character.

  4. I remember watching Fred’s first fight many years ago, and he got destroyed in the fight. This was a time when there wasn’t a lot of guidelines as how to train for MMA. Most fighters had one discipline and moved forward. I can’t imagine the nerves going into that cage and having no clue as to what to expect. Fast forward fifteen-years. For some people it’s not about always making the easy decisions, but the one’s that affect the rest of your life. I would imagine that first loss would have stuck with him through his death bed. We hear people say stuff like “willing to fight to the death” and bravado stuff like that. I am sure that if you asked him he was willing to risk everything to have one more shot to leave it all out there. We have all done something that we truly know that we didn’t give it out 100%, but how many of us are willing to call ourselves out and attempt to make amends. This guy is a HERO in my book!

  5. I don’t think anyone of any condition is wise to enter the arena. But the question becomes why do we fight? redemption, fame, honor, etc. right or wrong eveyone has there reasons.
    Maybe Fred could have a word with Dewey Bozella.

  6. Boxing, MMA, like other sports are a young mans/womans game for the most part. There will always be the rare exceptions like the George Blandas, George Foremans, Archie Moores, Nolan Ryans, Gordie Howes, but these type of athletes are extremely rare. I’m glad Mr. Ettish decided to make it a one-fight deal. Speaking of boxers making a comeback out of prison at an advanced age look up Bobby Halpern. Halpern was a heavyweight who was released in the late 1970’s after doing a 17 year stretch and decided to resume his boxing career which began in the late 50’s. Sports Illustrated did an article on Halpern in 1977, who managed a couple of wins against limited opposition before being Koed by clubfighter Rocky Casale. I believe Halpern was in his mid-40’s at the time, which in the 1970’s was considered ancient for a fighter.

  7. I was really pleased when I heard that Fred won his ‘comeback’ fight. In the entire history of combat sports there must be very few people who took as much criticism for losing their debut fight as he did.

    I recall he was there as an alternate to one of the main card fighters and was helping out with the show when he was told he was needed and stepped up at virtually zero notice.

    Even now if you google his name you’ll find sites/pictures mocking him. The truth of the matter is that its really easy to be a keyboard warrior and a whole different thing to step into a ring or cage…win or lose…

  8. The only one Mr. Ettish had to prove anything to was himself. Someone brave enough to enter a ring or cage whether they win or lose doesn’t have to answer to others. Mr. Ettish in my opinion let unwarranted criticism, and jealousy from misantrhopic cowardly jerks haunt him for precious years of his life. The internet is full of jerks who hide behind anonymity. Sometimes when these cretins insult you it’s best to just ignore them and consider the source. I remember when Ali lost to the neophyte Neon Leon Spinks people questioned how he could lose to such an opponent, Ali simply shrugged it off and said that’s life we all lose sometime.

  9. I’m 53 and I have nothing but respect for Mr. Ettish. Normally, someone is going to win and someone is going to lose a fight. So, a loss, while not good, is nothing to be ashamed of. At the very least, he had the guts to go into the ring two separate times. That is two times more than me and two times more than 99.99% of his critics. My hat is off to him.

  10. The key thing MMA brought to martial arts was an understanding of what worked under pressure and what didn’t. Ettish stepped up, and found what he had trained didn’t work. So he changed his training, learnt and evolved. Kinda the point of the process. Everyhting I have seen of him makes me believe he is a man to be respected (unlike many of his critics). I would also agree that entering the cage in your 50s carries risks – but as long as the training and desire is there, and you aren’t getting horribly outmatched, then I think it should be your choice.

  11. What a tough road for Mr. Ettish. Just as Stan said, Ettish is a winner either way for stepping back up and going for it at 53. i only hope that I have that kind of courage and strength at 53. I swear, whenever I need a boost or motivation, a shove in the right direction a ‘if this dude can do it, I certainly can’t quit’ moment, i come right here.

  12. I think the emotional battles are the hardest. This guy is a beast for pushing forward when his life was falling apart. It can be incredibly hard when life is like that. It’s good to see he overcame what had been gnawing at him for 15 years.

  13. I vaguely remember seeing this fight on a UFC video in the mid-90’s, and after researching it found out that this fight took place at UFC II. The first few UFC events of course had no weight classes, and looking at photos of Mr. Ettish and his opponent, it’s clear that Ettish was physically outmatched in weight, height, reach, and most notably “real world” fighting experience. Not sure how much size he was conceding to his opponent but Ettish doesn’t look particularly that big and his opponent while doughy and soft looking looks to be a sizable man.

  14. I disagree with Eric above. Of course age matters. But what matters more is what you do in your training and your life.

    I believe you can offset the effects of aging with correct training, diet and lifestyle.

    I’m into strength training and I can lift just as much now at 45 as I could in my 20’s and in some lifts more.

  15. I agree that Ettish could have gotten hurt in the ring, but it appears that is a risk he was willing to take. That is his decision to make and he will live with the consequences one way or the other.

    Video is really well done and I look forward to seeing the movie.

    Keep the videos coming Ross. I consider it a part of my training to come here occasionally to watch them.

  16. Coach Ross, thanks for sharing this video.

    Victories are always relived in front of witnesses, defeat is always relived alone.

    I’m glad he got tired of reliving it alone

  17. I just watched the original fight and I am speechless. Why did he take so much critigue?

    Fred obviously was not technically prepared to the fight and did not not have the correct skill-set but he never backed away or gave up. His defence was very poor but that is because he did not know any better. He did what he could.

    But he went in and fought and lost to a better fighter. Is that a shame? No it isn’t. He had heart then and he has heart now. Good man.

  18. Matti, I think he got criticized because he was a loser. Many people like to involve themselves with losers. Look at all how popular the reality TV shows on TV are about people who are idiots. Making fun of someone who fails after taking a risk validates a person who doesn’t take the risk in the first place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *