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Chase Sherman explains what led to him becoming UFC’s gif king

In the last few months, Chase Sherman has gone from winless UFC fighter to one of the most retweeted people in the business.

The heavyweight from Mississippi has seriously upped his social media game with the use of gifs. And he’s a regular tweeter with funny comments and memes when important MMA news breaks. Sherman told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour that he has multiplied his Twitter following by nine recently and he’s now over 10,000 followers on the social media platform.

So what brought this on a all of a sudden? How did the “Vanilla Gorilla” go from obscure UFC prelim competitor to Twitter star?

Sherman said it all started at UFC 211 in May when he knocked out Rashad Coulter and won a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus. Then, a week later, Sherman attended the UFC Athlete Retreat in Las Vegas and listened to NBA legend Kobe Bryant discuss marketing and brand building. The JacksonWink MMA product saw it as a way to attract potential endorsements.

“With this Reebok deal, it’s really hard for us to get sponsors,” Sherman said. “So the main way that we can market ourselves is through social media. You get a lot of followers and you get this and that through Instagram or Twitter, whatever the case may be. And that’s how you’re gonna make your money. So, that was a big key. That’s something that’s very important to me, obviously.”

Sherman, 27, could use the money, like most fighters. He just had his first child a few months ago and he said he went into the fight with Coulter with just $115 to his name. Sherman said people from home in Mississippi helped him get through training camp in Albuquerque. But if he lost, that would have meant three straight defeats in the UFC, the possibility of getting cut and only $10,000 instead of $20,000.

“I don’t know, man,” Sherman said. “I felt good about that fight.”

He took the gamble and it paid off. Sherman earned his show money, win bonus and the $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus. That was huge money for someone who used to live in the shed of a training partners’ parents home in Mississippi. Sherman said it has been hard to make ends meet, going back to when he was a college football player at Delta State.

“There’s been times where I’ve been struggling,” Sherman said. “Especially when I was in school. Because it was hard to have a real job and go to school for 15 hours, 20 hours a semester. And train, too. But that was all part of the process.”

Sherman (10-3) meets Damian Grabowski at UFC on FOX 25 on Saturday in Long Island, N.Y. It’s another huge opportunity for his career. Sherman said he just signed a new, four-fight contract with the UFC and is hoping to fight three more times by early 2018 to setup a third deal with the promotion.

If that is to come to fruition, Sherman will need to beat Grabowski, a veteran from Poland. Sherman said he has been training hard at JacksonWink in preparation, including sparring with the likes of Jon Jones. Mike Winkeljohn and former UFC fighter Alan Belcher will be in his corner for the bout.

Somehow, Sherman has found the time to be one of the more topical UFC fighters on social media. He swears he runs his own account and brushes off insinuations that he has a team doing it for him.

“I wish,” Sherman said with a laugh. “That would be nice. I am always on my phone, though. I get shit for that all the time.”

A few wins and some well-placed tweets and Sherman will be even further from his days living in a shed, cruising around in his grandmother’s beat up Oldsmobile and cleaning up dog poop at his family’s pet grooming business.

“It was pretty rough for a while, but I just kept to it,” Sherman said. “I was like, I don’t want to work behind a desk. But that’s a lot of fighters’ stories. That’s just how they come up.”

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