In biology, a hybrid is defined as an “offspring resulting from cross-breeding.”
Former professional football player turned UFC heavyweight contender Brendan Shaub has taken “The Hybrid” as his nickname because it fits him accordingly. “My background was just athletics in general,” says the Denver native who played football, basketball and even lacrosse in high school. “I was always doing something.” Although he admits that he was best at lacrosse, he opted to play football in college so he could play for the University of Colorado, where he played alongside future NFL players Mason Crosby and Brian Iwuh. Even though he was semi-successful and ended up playing for the Arena Football League’s Utah Blaze and later became a member of the Buffalo Bills practice squad, Schaub had the itch to hit his opponents…without the pads.
Being from the city that hosted the inaugural UFC event back in 1993, Schaub always was enamored by the competitive one-on-one nature of the sport. With his father being a second degree black belt in karate, the younger Schaub already had put some time into Tae Kwon Do and boxing. “I followed the sport closely and it was only a matter of time before I decided to go this route,” he says. Admittedly tired of the wear and tear football took on his body, Schaub retired from football and opted to pick up MMA in 2007. While splitting time training at High Altitude Martial Arts and Grudge Training Center in Denver, he met powerful heavyweight Shane Carwin and former middleweight contender Nate Marquardt. The former became Schaub’s mentor and he soon realized that there would be a future in the sport for him. “If I could go back and redo it, I would have skipped all of the pro football stuff and went into MMA right out of college. That’s what my heart wanted to do,” Schaub reflects. “Honestly, I was worn out on football right after my time in Colorado. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to be a fighter but that’s easier said than done. Carwin took me under his wing. I knew how tough he was and I saw how I was doing in the gym with him and realized that I good make a pretty good living doing this.”
It turned out to be the right decision.
In less than a year, Schaub amassed a 4-0 record with all four of his victories coming by knockout. The opportunity to compete on UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show came calling and Schaub made it all the way to the finals before losing to seasoned veteran Roy Nelson. Despite the loss, Schaub has improved tremendously in all aspects of the game and rolled to a four fight winning streak, upending the likes of Gabriel Gonzaga and future hall of famer Mirko Cro Cop along the way. The biggest test that will determine whether or not Schaub is a contender or a pretender will take place at UFC 134 when he looks to take out another legend when he faces Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in his backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Not only is it a difficult challenge, but it’s something that the 28-year-old asked for. Sounds crazy right? Not to Schaub. “Nobody has ever beaten Big Nog in Brazil, for me it would be the pinnacle of my career thus far,” he says. “It’s a tough job and I think I can get it done.”
A victory will likely find Schaub tagged with a new nickname: Legend Killer. But let him tell it, the thought that he’s a newbie wrecking hall of famers doesn’t hit him until after he wins. “I just like to think of them as another opponent. After the win then I realize I beat the legends of the sport,” he explains. “It actually doesn’t cross my mind until maybe a week after the fight. As soon as I beat a guy, I’m only figuring out who I can fight next and I’m back in the gym training. Honestly, I want that title.”
With only nine fights under his belt, is Schaub really ready to take on the UFC’s top dogs? Schaub certainly believes so. “I’m definitely ready for a title shot. If they were up for giving me a title shot, I match up well with both Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos,” he says while stating that his always improving skill set that gives every foe nightmares trying to prepare for him. “I haven’t started scratching the surface of my potential. Each fight I’m getting better and better. I definitely have some new tools for this fight and I’ve only just begun. There’s no offseason for me.”