Fatherhood and the Virtue of Leading by Example


Written by @NickRiznerMMA

The lessons a father passes on to his son permeate through a generation.

For better or worse, we mirror the choices of those who raise us. Fathers teach through their words, but reinforce through their actions. And for that reason, the outcomes are amplified; the consequences tenfold.

For Matt Secor, his legacy is not in the gym, nor the arena. It’s in the home. And it’s a journey that is set to begin in just over a week.

For the big day, I’m going off straight reaction. I just want my wife to be comfortable and have everything go smoothly. I really just can’t wait to meet our boy.

Ian Matthew Secor is due on November 10th, just two and a half weeks after his father’s last fight.

If you’ve never experienced it, the obstacles associated with fight night are difficult to fathom. Your thoughts and emotions are pulled in a thousand directions, at a time when staying singular in your focus is key. With a child on the way, those distractions are only exaggerated, and distractions outside the cage lead to losses within. It’s moments like this when a supportive family is essential. It’s the only way to thrive.

Family is the most important thing. They are who you push for, bleed for, die for. Having a strong support system just makes everything else so much easier. There is so much you sacrifice to become the best. Your diet, training, time. Their support means the world to me. They make it all worth it.

Consistency is the name of the game and that stability stems from one place, above all else. His wife, Jean.

But sometimes, life can force a break in the most reliable of patterns. At 8 1/2 months pregnant, Jean was unable to attend Matt’s most recent fight – the first one she’s missed since they began dating. While undoubtedly showing her support from afar, she only had one request for her husband. She told him he needed to get the finish, so he could drive right home.

Message received.

On October 23rd, after nearly two complete rounds of domination, Secor grabbed a hold of Jeremie Holloway’s leg and secured a last second heel hook. The submission marked the sixth of his career and his third consecutive victory. At 7-2, with wins in both Bellator and World Series of Fighting, Matt is right on the cusp of that coveted call-up; this being his second taste of those three magical letters.

Back in 2012, as a member of Team Carwin on the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, everything was going right for Matt Secor. It was all lined up before him. Train with a world class coaching staff, win a few fights, and see your dreams manifested. At least, that was the plan.

The reality? A perfect storm of misfortune. After coming up short on TUF, he was suddenly faced with a new kind of adversity; an injury that would take him out of competition for nearly a year. With his ultimate goal sitting just beyond his grasp, Matt developed an insatiable hunger for the big stage. One that still fuels him today.

Being in the house was an amazing opportunity, and I am grateful to have done it. Just off the show, I was involved in a freak accident where I broke my leg, severely. I was sidelined for about a year; physically and mentally. My last three fights were won on great preparation and awesome coaching. Getting back to the top is my goal. I just want to compete with the best fighters at 170 lbs, and I feel that I have a style that is unique and hard to deal with.

And to think. This all started with a kid on a couch watching television.

I was sitting on my couch and I saw a BJJ commercial. I thought “that looks cool,” so I went in, I tried it, and I fell in love. This sport means a lot to me. Before MMA, I was headed in the wrong direction; hanging with a bad crowd and doing bad things. I found BJJ and MMA, and my life changed. So in a way, MMA saved my life.

It all comes down to a code of conduct; a set of values that have led Matt away from a dark path and towards a bright one. He’s met his wife. He’s started his family. He’s found his stride in MMA and he’s on the verge of making it to the UFC. But it all began with the morals that were instilled in him, through martial arts.

Perseverance, dedication, humility, pride, and an undying self-belief. Now, the important part. The part that makes it all worthwhile. It’s time to pass those morals along.

From a father to his son, these lessons will last a lifetime.

My son will train in BJJ because he will need to know how to protect himself. For fighting, if that’s what he would like to do, I will support him 100%. And if not, whatever he wants to do, I will help him be the best. I cannot wait to meet my little ninja and make him into an amazing man.

If that mindset persists, there is very little doubt that Matt will succeed in his goal. And that makes Ian a very lucky kid, indeed.

Check out our latest podcast episode featuring David St. Martin and lots of Halloween talk.

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