Scott Ferrozzo has established himself as the man to see for those having trouble securing a car loan in Minneapolis. Holding court daily at a local dealership, as he has done for most of his adult life, the 47-year-old UFC 8, UFC 11 and UFC 12 veteran sells and finances vehicles to his fellow Minnesotans.
“I’ve always sold cars; that’s what I’ve always done,” Ferrozzo told Sherdog.com. “When I was fighting, that’s what I did. I sold cars and had a good time doing that. Selling cars is really how I made my living.”
Ferrozzo’s hulking appearances would not seem to make him the most approachable salesman, but after 20 years in the business, he has carved out a decent living for himself and his family; and he has plenty of mouths to feed. Ferrozzo has been married to his wife, Christy, for 18 years. “She’s stood behind me through it all and is my biggest fan,” he said. He is the father of four children: two sons and two daughters, ranging in age from 5 to 19. Like most parents, Ferrozzo’s day begins long before he arrives at work, as he handles the duties of waking up kids and preparing them for school. His oldest, Logan, now out of the house, attends Augustana College in South Dakota, where he plays wide receiver for the football team.
“I think he’ll get a shot to play somewhere in the big show,” Ferrozzo said. “Whether he’ll make it or not, that’s up to him and how hard he works.”
Ferrozzo’s voice rings with fatherly pride when he speaks of his children.
“My 13-year-old daughter is a cheerleader,” he said. “In eighth grade, they offered her [the chance] to be on the varsity team. She’s quite the athlete, too.”
Indeed, the bravado he once oozed in the cage has now shifted to a braggadocio for his children, as he describes his youngest son, Apollo, his tenacity on the football field and his possible future as part of “the next generation of [the] UFC.”
Aside from work and time spent with his family, Ferrozzo has developed a passion for flying. Finding freedom in the skies, he obtained his pilot license and “learned how to fly private planes.” Ferrozzo enjoys soaring above the Twin Cities whenever the opportunity arises. In addition, he is working towards his helicopter license and hopes to purchase one in the not-too-distant future.
Ferrozzo also places an emphasis on staying fit and makes it a point to hit the gym on a daily basis. He claims he has dropped nearly 100 pounds since his MMA days, when he competed as a 300-plus-pound super heavyweight.
The 47-year-old Ferrozzo’s name made the rounds on the MMA newswire in 2011, when rumors began to circulate regarding a rematch with David “Tank” Abbott. The two brawlers originally fought at UFC 11 in 1996, as Ferrozzo took a unanimous decision after 15 minutes at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Ga. They agreed to a rematch 15 years later, but after the local boxing commission disapproved of the chosen venue, the fight wound up taking place in October in a leaf-littered backyard somewhere in Ohio. Filmed for the Internet, it lasted 18 minutes. Abbott controlled much of the action but did little damage. Ferrozzo can be heard taunting “Tank” as he absorbed blows: “Nope, you can’t hurt me!”
The lengthy backyard brawl proved nostalgic for some old-school fight fans, and it was quite an impressive physical feat for Ferrozzo. A year earlier, he nearly lost his leg due to a serious staph infection he contracted while mowing his grass. It nearly killed him and left him immobilized in a hospital bed for more than a month.
“I spent about 40 days in the hospital, and they amputated most of my foot,” Ferrozzo said. “My foot was just shredded. It looked like a shark had come by and bit it; that’s how bad it was. They were going to amputate my leg but did a good enough job that they [only] took most of my foot. It took about a five- or six-month recovery before I was really able to walk again and resume my life.”
Ferrozzo claims the battle with staph resulted in his becoming diabetic, which led to another procedure -- gastric-bypass surgery -- the following spring. He was then prescribed medication to cope with the pain associated with two surgeries and developed a full-fledged addiction.
“I got hooked on painkillers,” Ferrozzo said, adding that he has never smoked or done drugs in his life.
Foregoing the usual method of rehabilitation and the 12-step program, Ferrozzo quit on his own after a morning revelation spurred him to act.
“I woke up one morning and my first thought was, ‘Where’s my Percocet?’” he said. “From that moment forward, I knew that I was hooked on that drug, so I quit cold turkey that day.”
Ferrozzo says he has not taken any pain medication since, but his sobriety has left him with little relief from the pain. The events that led him here seem even more troubling considering he claims none of it would have occurred had he not been misdiagnosed at the hospital.
“They said that I had gout, but I really had a staph infection,” Ferrozzo said. “It could’ve all been avoided if they would have just done their job.”
Ferrozzo is currently involved in litigation with the hospital over the ordeal.
“The hospital was responsible for what they did to my foot,” he said.
While Ferrozzo waits for his suit to play out in the court system, the man known as “The Pit Bull” still keeps tabs on the fight game. He holds former UFC light heavyweight champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Tito Ortiz in high regard. Not surprisingly, he also mentions his fondness for Brock Lesnar, though he feels the now-retired former UFC heavyweight titleholder could have made an even more significant impact on mixed martial arts.
“I really wish Brock Lesnar would’ve taken on some real training instead of having all these yes men around him,” Ferrozzo said. “I think Brock could’ve been the first guy to really hurt someone physically in the ring, but I just don’t think he had the correct trainers. I really like Brock, and I wish he would’ve taken a little bit different route.”
The evolution MMA has undergone is exemplified in the transformation of the athletes who have participated in it. In Ferrozzo’s day, it was about seeing which martial arts style would come out on top. Today’s top fighters put the entire package together and often rely on several different specialized trainers to focus on specific aspects of caged combat. The change has been drastic, and Ferrozzo remains one of the few to have not only seen the makeover but participated in it.
“I always said, back in 1996 when I was fighting, that the guys that fight today would not be able to compete with the guys who fight five or 10 years from now,” he said. “The sport is getting to where big money is involved and fighters are getting trained correctly. Before, it was just guys in the gym who said, ‘Let’s go fight.’”
Looking back on his career in the cage, Ferrozzo has but one regret: he wishes he would have discovered fighting earlier in his life.
“Realistically, it came about 10 years too late,” he said. “If it came 10 years earlier, it would have been more of my life.”
Ferrozzo was already 31 years old when he made his MMA debut in 1996 at UFC 8. He went on to fight a total of six times, going 4-2 with wins over Abbott, Steve Grinnow, Sam Fulton and Jim Mullen. He made his last professional appearance at UFC 12, losing to a then 19-year-old Vitor Belfort by first-round technical knockout. Despite missing out on the fame and fortune many of MMA’s current stars enjoy, Ferrozzo looks back on his short career with pride.
“I was one of these guys that when I played football back in the day I was the most violent and feared guy on the field,” he said. “If you looked at me wrong, I was kicking your ass -- that’s just how I was -- and then fighting came along and, through a series of coincidences, I got into the UFC.
“If I would’ve taken it as my life, I think it would have been a big letdown, but I did it just to have fun,” Ferrozzo added. “When I first saw ‘Tank,’ I knew that I could beat the guy, and that’s really all I wanted to do. Then when it was done, it really didn’t matter to me too much after that. My overall experience was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t my life. When it was over, it was over for me. I never had to rely on that to make a living.”
Ferrozzo’s willingness to keep his fighting career in the past helped him move forward in other pursuits, all while saving him from some of the struggles he has seen other fighters endure when the time comes to hang up the gloves.
“I’ve read about guys who’ve had nothing but trouble since fighting, guys like [Ken] Shamrock being along in their hotel thinking about killing himself,” he said. “I never let that stuff get to me. Even though we all get old, some of these guys don’t know when to stop.”
Still, Ferrozzo knows the burn to compete can be difficult to extinguish. It drove him to take the second fight with Abbott even though he had undergone surgery just a few months earlier.
“I shouldn’t have took that fight with ‘Tank,’” Ferrozzo said. “I should’ve been in the shape I am today, but the warrior in all of us always says, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”
Though he does not rule out another go-round with Abbott -- “I’d never back down,” he said -- Ferrozzo’s focus these days centers on being a father and providing for his family. Beyond that, he plans to hit the open skies as much as possible; or perhaps even cruise the ocean floor.
“My goal is to buy a submarine and take tours around the island of Maui,” Ferrozzo said. “I’m going to buy a four-man sub. That’s a hundred percent. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. When my son graduates college, I’m going to move my family to Maui. I’m going to buy a four-man submarine and take tours around the island; big money to be made there. That’s how I’m going to retire.”