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Thursday, Jan 12, 2012

Lyle Beerbohm Says He’s Chopping Wood To Survive, Anxiously Awaiting A Call To Fight

Lyle "Fancy Pants" Beerbohm. Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Strikeforce

By Joshua Molina

In the mountains near Spokane, Washington, Lyle Beerbohm chops trees to sell as firewood. He has a family and five kids to feed.

But as he swings his axe, in the back of his head, he thinks about just one thing. He’s waiting for a telephone call – a call that would take him out of the woods and back into the cage, where he belongs.

Once a rising mixed martial arts star, with a back story seemingly ripped out of a Hollywood script, Beerbohm now struggles to remain relevant in what can be a fair-weathered sport with few loyalties and harsh reality.

“I am pretty much just waiting for a phone call,” Beerbohm told Full Contact Fighter. “I am ready to fight.”

Even his incredible back story isn’t leading to any fights. A meth addict who served prison time, he discovered mixed martial arts, watching The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV from a prison couch, and suddenly found his calling in life.

Upon his release from prison, he started training and made a successful entrance into the sport, racking up an impressive 9-0 start to his MMA career.

On top of that, Beerbohm earned the nickname “Fancy Pants,” because he wore pink and other flamboyant shorts, sewed by his mother, into the cage.

Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm.  The name alone, let alone the fact that he was an undefeated fighter for Strikeforce, was gold. But today, Beerbohm just waits.

He hasn’t fought in nearly a year, after he tapped out to the sly submission artist Shinya Aoki. It was his second consecutive loss, after dropping a close, but unanimous decision to Pat Healy.

In his last bout, Beerbohm (right) tapped out to a neck crank applied by Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki (left) in the first round of their meeting last April 9.

Since Beerbohm’s last fight, the world of mixed martial arts has turned upside down. Zuffa, which owns UFC, purchased Strikeforce just before his fight with Aoki and has since slowly dismantled its former top rival promotion. Although the company has kept the brand alive, it eliminated the heavyweight division and lured many of its top stars, including Alistair Overeem, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson and Fabricio Werdum to the UFC.

Beerbohm, who fights in the lightweight division, hasn’t heard a word from anyone at Strikeforce or the UFC since the Aoki fight. He’s reached out several times — and said he recently sent a text message to the Strikeforce matchmaker Sean Shelby, but didn’t receive a response.

At a time when the sport is in a state of transition, even disarray, Beerbohm seems to be lost in the shuffle.

Can he bounce back?  He may not have a choice.

“I have to get into the cage,” Beerbohm said. “I have to make money. I have kids to feed.”

Not too long ago, before Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, Beerbohm was complaining that Strikeforce was marketing him incorrectly or not giving him the fights he wanted. He spoke publicly about wanting to get out of his contract and go to the UFC.

The UFC was the first brand of MMA that he fell in love with and he still wants to fight inside The Octagon.

“I want to go to the UFC,” he said. “I want those fight bonuses.”

Despite his love for MMA, Beerbohm hasn’t spent a lot of time watching it during the last year.

He doesn’t keep up with the business side of the sport and couldn’t tell you who the latest champions are or what the next big fight is. He doesn’t get Pay Per View or Showtime in the mountains where he lives.

Beerbohm still believes in himself and what he can contribute to MMA. He learned a lot from the Aoki fight, he said, namely to be more patient, and not lose his position in an attempt to win the fight early.

“I am a much better fighter now, than I was then,” Beerbohm said. “I just need an opportunity to shine.”

But for now, he is just waiting.

“I just want to get back in the cage,” he said, “and wear those ‘Fancy Pants’ again.”

posted by FCF Staff @ 3:21 pm
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