FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence’s Steve Montgomery is no longer chasing a professional MMA career.
After losing last Thursday in the first round against Brazil’s Anderson Goncalves in the co-main event of FFA 37 at the Rio Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, the 2009 West Florence graduate took to Twitter:
“Didn’t take my time at all. Rushed in like an idiot & got knocked out in the 1st. Face is broken in several places. Sorry I let you all down, thanks for all the support. It didn’t go unnoticed,” he tweeted. “It’s much appreciated. That’s the end of my fighting career. This one was all or nothing. I had a lot of fun, no excuses. On to the next adventure.”
In a span of just over 11 years, Montgomery’s record was 6-0 as an amateur and 10-6 as a pro. He started training MMA at Timmonsville’s Florence Fight Farm, where in 2007 he began practicing. Just over four years ago, he participated in “The Ultimate Fighter” television show. However, he suffered a seizure during an episode but wasn’t able to resume (he was diagnosed with hyponatremia).
Montgomery still got called up to UFC, but lost his professional debut in June 2015.
Montgomery, whose fighter nickname is the “The Creepy Weasel,” plans to have surgery Friday in Florida.
“He landed some shots when I was out,” Montgomery told the Morning News on Wednesday. “He cracked my orbital bone; it luckily didn’t displace anything. My nose got broken pretty much everywhere, septum on both sides. But the good thing is I’ve had it crazier looking from other breaks before.
“Luckily, it doesn’t look as bad as it really is,” he added. “But it definitely sucks. I can’t breathe very well. It’s nothing that doesn’t come with the line of work.”
But what if Montgomery had won last week?
“If I didn’t get hurt from that, it would be kind of a financial decision right now,” Montgomery said. “If I hadn’t have gotten hurt from the fight, and I could continue to fight, I would have found some more fights, probably, and probably stuck with the same show (Final Fight Championship).
“I always told that show if they had come along even six months ago, I don’t think I’d be looking at this kind of forced retirement. But they didn’t. So it was hell just getting a fight with a good show. I would have probably tried getting more fights, I could have justified it a little longer. But yeah, that’s probably what would have happened.”
Then, Montgomery was asked how difficult it was to walk away.
“You tell me after 2½ years, no money, constant injuries. (Last week’s fight) was all or nothing,” Montgomery said. “If there wasn’t a perfect turnout – win with no injuries – I could’ve dominated. But if I had broken my hand and had to sit out another six months, I would have quit. And the thing that makes it easier (to quit) is the money I’m going to be making in the future in everything based in martial arts – teaching, training and coaching. So, I’m not going to be far from it.
“I really just need to work and get my bank account up, I’ve sacrificed a lot of money to try and fight,” he added. “It’d be one thing if the game of finding a fight was nice to me. But it treated me like an abusive significant other.”
But if there’s one fight Montgomery will always be fond of, it’s the one he won at the Florence Center in November 2016.
“That’s a good fight to bring up,” Montgomery said. “If you had to say the most feel-good and most rewarding? It’s probably getting that win in Florence. That’s definitely one of the most rewarding fights I’ve had.”
Although Montgomery won’t compete in MMA anymore, he’ll compete in another discipline.
“I plan to get on the professional grappling scene and make a run at that and see if I can really get some momentum there in the pro ju-jitsu circuit,” Montgomery said. “There’s a lot going on over there. It’s less getting punched in the face and still very competitive.”
Meanwhile, Montgomery said he’ll go where life takes him.
“I just plan on living more, nationally,” he said. “There’s more business opportunities I’d like to exploit in Asheville and then come in and out of Florence because there’s people I know and I enjoy teaching there. Also, there’s a lot of people that if I can keep upping my stats as a coach and keep going my job as a coach while still competing in the high-level grappling world, you can start getting paid significant amounts of money to travel and do seminars.”
Obviously, Montgomery won’t let go of his bond with Florence.
“I love Florence,” he said. “I always try to represent how the people of Florence act. Everything I learned, I learned growing up in Florence. I almost apologize they didn’t get to see some of the results. But I’m definitely not quitting. I’m always looking to make my statement in the martial arts world. Florence is growing, as far as martial arts go. I just hope to add to that.”