By the summer of 2001, he began a UFC run that saw him compete nine times in the Octagon against the likes of BJ Penn, Caol Uno, Matt Serra, Clay Guida, Jeremy Stephens and Kenny Florian, while also putting in a stint on season four of The Ultimate Fighter.
Following his run in the UFC, Thomas won three of his last five bouts before retiring in 2014. At 37, Thomas still had some gas in the tank, yet he never returned to competition, a rarity for any professional prizefighter.
“I liked fighting, but I didn’t really like everything that came along with fighting,” Thomas said. “I said, you know what, I want to use my creativity in other areas, and that’s what I’m doing now. I’m lucky to have been able to reinvent myself and stay relevant. But it’s because I didn’t go back to fight. All these guys keep one foot in it, thinking they’re gonna come back and they never evolve as people, so they have a hard time reinventing themselves.”
They’re words of wisdom, but also a living, breathing example of how to do life after fighting right. Many don’t, and the examples are everywhere, not just in combat sports, but sports in general.
Unfiltered Episode 379: Chael Sonnen & Din Thomas
“I guess the good thing for me is that I never really made a lot of money fighting, so I never built up this lifestyle I had to maintain when it was over,” he said. “I always lived humbly.”
So no pet tiger in the backyard?
“I barely had a chihuahua,” he laughs.