Former WEC Champ Cole Escovedo on His Journey from Paralysis to the UFC

November 24, 2014
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Perseverance has been a big theme in the life of inaugural WEC 145-pound champion Cole Escovedo.

Throughout his life it seems one thing or another would sideline Escovedo. But throughout it all, he persevered and kept moving forward not only within his MMA career, but his life outside the sport as well.

Recently Escovedo took time out to discuss with the release of his new book entitled Through the Cage Door: My Journey from Paralysis to the UFC, discussing the experiences of his personal and business lives, and what he hopes people can take from it. Firstly, Cole, tell us how Through the Cage Door came about.

Cole Escovedo: The project was something originally my mom wanted to do. It wasn’t really my cup of tea. I thought I was getting my message out of what I had experienced and gone through with fighting and stuff, but my mom felt the family life story thing would get a lot a wider spectrum of people who might not have been into MMA to understand me better as a fighter and as a person.

It was two-fold by allowing her to get a story out about the family like she’s wanted to and at the same time get my message out – the perseverance perspective of when things get rough to keep going forward, don’t quit and not give up no matter how hard it gets – to a larger scope of people.

It was a very long and detailed back and forth collaboration between me, my mom, Zac (Robinson, contributor) and everybody else who was working on it. It was a lot of hours put in than for anything I can think of. Especially for Zac, that guy really put a lot of effort into getting this book out. What did you think when you saw the finished product?

Cole Escovedo: I was glad with it. I thought it got across exactly everything I wanted to have in the book, as well as what my mom wanted the book to mean. We were happy with the message we wanted to convey from both our ends. Some of it kind of leads other things open for questions about the book from people about things they might want to know more about, which allows me to interact more with them. Obviously the book covers your MMA career, but what’s something outside of fighting that people can expect to learn about by reading it?

Cole Escovedo: A lot of people really don’t know about my daughter. I found out that I was going to have a daughter the day after I won my first world title, and a lot of people don’t know that. They know that when I fought Philip Perez (in October 2002) that I became the WEC champion, but there was a lot of stuff going on in my personal life leading up to that fight. People are really surprised by how many day-to-day life distractions there are outside of MMA.

To find out that I’m committed to a daughter the day after winning my first world title, it really fluctuates that emotional rollercoaster – especially being like 21 when it happened and being at that emotional age with a lack of maturity and lack of life experience and trying to balance fighting for a living – it really intertwined things really fast. It’s stories like that which will draw people in aside from the MMA stuff. Having been retired for three years, do you ever get the urge to return to fighting one day?

Cole Escovedo: I get asked that question almost every day. I think I’ll always be competitive in one way or another. I’m just competitive in a different way now within the gaming industry and what I’m doing now. Do I always want to? Yeah, I kind of always want to. I think it’s going to always be an itch. I don’t think you’ll find a fighter who was as heavily involved with the growth of MMA as I was, and being there for a lot of different changes, to not want to be a part of it.

I don’t really see the money being there anymore locally. I understand there’s a need for amateur MMA, but everybody’s fighting for free and there are not a lot of promoters in California who want to spend decent money on either high-end fights that can be costly or getting guys fighting tough opponents for low pay when they can fill a card with amateur fighters.

Those are the little things that keep me from getting punched in the face. Plus, I can’t show up to work in a suit and tie with a black eye or broken nose. I don’t think my boss would appreciate that too much. If you end up not returning to fighting, what do you think when you look back on your career in MMA?

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