“I look at these young 22-year-olds and I gotta show them that even when you’re old, and even when it seems like people know who you are, you’re owed nothing,” said Birchak, who owns the 10th Planet Tucson / ToroTech Mixed Martial Arts gym in his home state of Arizona. “No matter who stands in front of you, you always have to approach the situation as that 20-year-old fighter that’s filled with piss and vinegar. I think a lot of people lose that and they get complacent, and as soon as that comfort sets in, that’s when s**t starts going awry.

“I just want to continue to put on shows for people and I want to continue to show that no matter what, I’m still here to show that I train my hardest, I work my hardest, I believe in myself, I believe in my coaches and the system that I’m learning and teaching myself, and although these are strange times, people that are ready will always be able to answer the door when opportunity knocks. There will be a day when I’m able to sit down, but not today.”

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Not tomorrow either, when he faces Gravely in one of the most important fights of his career. But with motivation not an issue, Birchak expects to find the next gear he needs to get the win and move forward. As for the landscape as he moves forward, “El Toro” has big plans.

“As an athlete, I am now at the mercy of the universe, and whatever this whole thing is we are now a part of,” he said. “As a man and a business owner, I have things that are contingency plans for myself to continue to be successful, as far as starting new businesses, expanding businesses, progressing my athletes that I have in my gym, and continuing to foster the growth of my children in their athletic careers. So by the end of the year, I want to start another business outside of MMA and jiu-jitsu and start diversifying myself a little more. Ideally, I could get another two fights out and maybe surprise some people and be back in the Top 10, Top 15 with a big win or two over some names.”