If I were to write a book on Chris Sanford's athletic career it would be titled, "The Reluctant Athlete." I used to always give Chris a hard time for being lazy but the truth is Chris found Diablo (Version 1.0 to be exact...sometimes referred to as the garage days) towards the end of what had already been a long career in MMA and martial arts. Chris used to call me up and ask I if would train him for a fight. I always said yes.
When asking how much time we had the fight was always only a few weeks away. Even with this seeming lack of preparedness Chris only lost once in his professional career.
Some may remember Chris as being chosen to be on the original UFC Tuf show where he ultimately suffered his only professional defeat to Josh Koschek. Koscheck made a great career for himself and at one point fought for the UFC title. In getting ready for this fight we actually did prepare and Chris was able to get in the best shape of his life. It wasn't enough on that day however. A distinguishing point of his fighting style was he had a great set of hands. If he landed he could knock anyone out.
I frequently think of our early conversations as Chris was somewhat of a visionary for how the fitness world was going to change. Nearly 20 years ago he wanted me to put some of my conditioning methods out there with
explanation as how it would transform athletes. I remember him saying, "watch, in 10 years everyone is going to be doing this type of thing but they won't really know why they are doing it" and he wasn't far off. He also was on point prophesying about how the fitness ideal was going to move from the then bodybuilding standard to the physique standard we now see in MMA and amongst crossfitters.
I've not kept in contact with Chris unfortunately. I miss our conversations and training sessions. As he was the first pro fighter I have trained many walking in his footsteps have reaped the rewards of the pain he begrudgingly endured. In fact, if it wasn't for Chris spreading the word to his teammates at the Gracie Academy I may not have had the legacy of training so many notable fighters, grapplers and wrestlers.