Jimmy Flick had achieved every MMA fighter's dream, battling through a decade of hard work to finally make the Octagon walk in the UFC. After winning his first UFC fight with a flying triangle choke this past December, Flick was set for a fight with Francisco Figueiredo on May 8 when he suddenly announced his retirement.
Flick spoke with Luke Thomas of "Morning Kombat" about his surprising decision, detailing how his father's struggles with drugs impacted his decision to walk away from the sport.
"Over the last couple weeks, I haven't had the urge to train as much as I usually do," Flick said. "I wasn't striving, I was missing training sessions. I didn't know what was going on. But back when I fought on [Dana White's Contender Series], I told people I lost my dad and my brother, not lost them to death, but lost them over drugs. I lost them throughout the fight game and me and my dad and brother, we started it all together.
"We all had goals and plans in life with where this was going to take us. My dad invested a lot. He had a job and made over $100,000 a year. I dropped out of school at 17 years old and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, to pursue a dream in mixed martial arts. It started with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I fell in love with it. I wrestled my whole life from when I was three years old and throughout my career, my dad and brother ended up getting back into drugs and I kept fighting and striving for goals. My goal was always to make that UFC walk. I always thought when I made that walk, my dad and my brother would be with me. And they weren't."
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Flick earned his place in the UFC after an appearance on Dana White's Contender Series. Flick won his fight on the show with an arm-triangle choke in September, and would make his official UFC debut just three months later.
Something was missing on the journey, however, with Flick's father choosing not to be there for the biggest moment of his son's career.
"When I fought on [Contender Series], before I made that walk, I reached out and told them, 'I want y'all there. I want you to be there. Please, give the drug life up. Give that life up. Even if you say you aren't doing drugs, better your life, reach out to me, come see my kids, come see me, call me, talk to me,'" Flick said. "I've called my dad, he don't talk to me about fighting, he don't congratulate me about fighting. Over Easter weekend, I met with my dad. He was there at my sister's house. Most of the time, I'm not with my family on holidays, not the Flick family. My sister invited me out and said she would love for me and my kids to be there and I said I'd be there.
"I brought my kids out and my dad was there. We haven't talked much. He knew I had a fight coming up and he told me he was proud of me. I'm 30 years old. At the age of 20, not only did I pursue fighting, I found a job to take care of me and my family. We have land, I bought a house, we own vehicles, we take care of our kids. It hit me in the wrong way that my dad didn't tell me he was proud of me years ago. He told me he was proud of me after I made the UFC. He should have been proud of me a long time ago and I didn't like that about it."
That Easter conversation with his father turned out to be a real turning point in Flick's life.
Realizing that he no longer wanted to fight for someone else, Flick said he can turn his attention to being a husband and father, while also supporting a wife who never asked him to give up on his dreams, despite having dreams of her own.
"The next day, when I woke up, I found out I was fighting to have my dad back in my corner, but my dad never said anything about wanting to be in my corner. He never said anything about wanting to be there anymore. All he said was just that he was proud of me. Probably because he felt he was obligated to tell me he was proud of me. Is he really proud of me? I don't know, because a long time ago, when he got back into drugs and I lost him and my brother, I told him he couldn't be in my corner no more. I know it hurt my dad when I told him that. But I didn't do it to hurt him, I did it for my career. He knew why I did it, but he won't take the actions to be in my corner anymore. So, I found out I was fighting for my dad.
"I don't want to fight for him no more. I don't want to fight for his love. I don't want to fight for him to be in my kids' lives. I have a nine-year-old and a four-year-old, neither of them really know my dad. My mom comes out and watches my kids. My dad never comes. After I win my fights, it takes my mom a couple days, but she tells me congratulations. My dad doesn't. He gave up on me a long time ago and I tried not to give up on him. But, Sunday, after that, I gave up on trying to get my dad in my corner. That's why I retired from mixed martial arts."