There's nothing so remarkable about Lyle Beerbohm
He's just your run-of-the-mill recovering meth addict who's racked up a perfect 16-0 record as an MMA fighter. He did a year in a Washington state prison, which is where he first saw an episode of 'The Ultimate Fighter.' Then he walked out of jail and into an MMA gym, where he freely admits he traded being hooked on meth for being hooked on MMA.
"To get off that addiction, I needed something," he told MMA Fighting.
MMA turned out to be that something, and "Fancy Pants" turned out to be pretty good at it.
"When you shoot up meth as much as I did and for as many years as I did, you don't know what's going to happen when you get out of prison," said Beerbohm. "I was lucky enough to find MMA and I traded my meth addiction for an MMA addiction. I went from putting all my time in one thing to putting it in another. And what MMA did was put my head back on my shoulders. It made me think straight, and now I've got my family back in my life, my friends and training partners, and we're all close."For all the bad things I did, I want to give back, so I don't mind talking about it.
-- Beerbohm on troubled past
These days, Beerbohm has his life together, thanks in large part to MMA. He occasionally gets the urge to use again – "There's little triggers, places I'll go by in Spokane that will kind of trigger something," he said – but he remembers just how bad his bad times were, and doesn't ever want to go back there. He doesn't even mind being asked over and over again in interviews about the lowest point in life. Not if it helps somebody who hears it.
"My past is my past. I want to give back to the community. For all the bad things I did, I want to give back, so I don't mind talking about it. The more I can do, the better it is."
But as the 32-year-old prepares to headline Friday night's Strikeforce Challengers
card in a main event bout with Pat Healy
, it's hard not to wonder why more people don't already know about Beerbohm's story. As long as it has an undefeated lightweight on the roster who's something of a living redemption tale, why hasn't Strikeforce done more with him?
Friday night's bout will be just the fourth time Beerbohm has fought for Strikeforce in the last three years. It's certainly not because he hasn't performed up to expectations, either.
In June of 2009 he submitted Duane "Bang" Ludwig, who's now doing well in the UFC. In May he outpointed Vitor Ribeiro at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery, but a combination of injuries, lack of follow-up offers, and the unfortunate airing of some public grievances
meant he ended up fighting twice in regional promotions in 2010, and only once for his primary employer.
"I get a little discouraged," Beerbohm admitted. "But my time will come. I think 2011 is going to be a good year for me. ... I think [Strikeforce and I] are on the same page now, and I think with this main event, they're giving me a good push now."I think [the Healy fight] will really showcase my talents, and after this I'm going to be in the mainstream.
-- Lyle Beerbohm
Of course, a promoter can only do so much. Making the most of whatever push he does get is ultimately up to Beerbohm, who has to keep winning. An undefeated record looks good on paper, but it's also a heavy load to drag behind you.
"When you've never lost a fight, it is a lot of pressure," Beerbohm said. "Everybody always asks you about it, and that right there is added pressure. You just have to train hard and keep winning fights. What else can you do?"
If Beerbohm wins this one, he expects it will put him in the Strikeforce lightweight title picture. If he can do it in impressive fashion on Showtime, maybe it will put him in the spotlight as well.
"I think this fight will put me up there. I think it will really showcase my talents, and after this I'm going to be in the mainstream. This is going to put me there."
In Beerbohm's words, "they can't hold me back forever." And woe be to the person who would try. Once he's got his mind set on something, he's not the type to let it go easily.
As for whether a title shot could be in his near future with a win over Healy? Consider Beerbohm cautiously optimistic.
"I'd think so," he said. "I'll be 17-0 and 4-0 in their division. I beat Ribeiro and I beat Ludwig, so I feel like I have a good chance at the title. Only time will tell."