One of the reasons why I love mixed martial arts is the psychological aspect. It definitely takes a certain mindset to willingly step into a cage with another human being, where the intent is to beat each other up. What drives fighters to do this? Are they working through some inner turmoil or channeling their anger? Do they really need money? Or is it simply a love of sport and competing?
For Robert Sullivan, it's definitely that last one.
"I fight because I enjoy it," Sullivan told me during a recent Facebook conversation. "I don't have some sob story of my struggle and how this is all I know. I'm a trained carpenter and tend to wear a lot of other hats. This is what makes me happy."
Sullivan is a fighter with Method MMA and Baltimore BJJ and will compete at Shogun Fights this weekend in Baltimore. Sullivan started fighting in 2011 after growing up wrestling, and waited until the age of 26 to start practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. "My age was a big reason I went pro so early," Sullivan said.
Sullivan traveled to Holland after his first fight (a 12-second TKO victory) to train in kickboxing, which confirmed his belief to make fighting his full-time gig after taking gigs of a different sort.
"The years before fighting I played in a band, so I always came home from tour and did BJJ or just wrestled at different gyms," Sullivan said. "I never stepped that far away from it, but I had a few years where being in a band was my only focus. The band called it quits in 2010, so my focus has been all fighting ever since."
Sullivan is also an instructor and manager for Baltimore BJJ and coaches wrestling at a local high school. But he makes it clear that fighting is his passion, and he will do it until he can't physically do it anymore.
"My ultimate goal is to do this until my body decides I'm done," Sullivan said. "I love the grind of this lifestyle. I've never liked the idea of a typical 9 to 5, so after being in a band this seemed right up my alley."