Nate Quarry definitely has a life story worthy of an autobiography.
A cast member during the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, Quarry eventually went onto battle for the UFC title. He was a mainstay on the UFC roster for several years, enduring numerous injuries including a severe back issue that required spinal surgery.
Quarry also spent most of his career as a single dad raising a daughter, which kept him scratching and clawing his way to every single victory he earned in the octagon.
After he hung up his gloves, Quarry began focusing on endeavors outside the cage. But he always wanted the chance to look back and reflect on his career. Rather than penning a novel, the former Team Quest fighter decided to transform his life into a comic book.
It might have seemed like an odd choice at the time. But according to Quarry, the decision was actually an easy one. Comic books had served as an escape through a tumultuous childhood, and he couldn’t imagine a better way to tell his life story. The end result was “Zombie Cage Fighter,” a multi-issue comic book that Quarry is now collecting in a graphic novel.
“The story itself, what I like to describe to people, is my life, what I’ve been through as a fighter and as a single father and then I threw in zombies,” Quarry told MMA Fighting. “So think ‘Rocky’ meets ‘The Walking Dead.’
“If you look at something like ‘Rocky,’ is it about boxing? Well, boxing is in it, but it’s about this loser who finally has one last chance to try and make something of himself to prove he’s not nothing. All he wants to do is go the distance with the champ. That could have been about somebody wanting to get a raise at the local supermarket but it’s just not as compelling.
“With ‘Zombie Cage Fighter,’ if you take away the cage fighting and you take away the zombies, the core of the story is a father, myself, trying to provide for my little girl. That’s been my journey since day one when I started fighting. I’m going to give her a life and better opportunities than I’ve had.”
While there is a fictional element to the book — Quarry never actually battled zombies after all — he definitely added stories to the comic that were torn from the pages of his real life.
From conversations he’s had with promoters while negotiating a fight purse, to a situation at his daughter’s school where he had to have a chat with some bullies, Quarry injected plenty of things that have happened to him over the years, creating a fantasy world where he’s battling zombies to make ends meet.
“In ‘Zombie Cage Fighter’ world, I never quite make it over the hump,” Quarry explained. “I’m still fighting in the small shows, way past my prime and it gets to the point where a promoter comes up to me and says ‘nobody is excited to see you on the card anymore, they feel sad, it’s a bummer to see you fight on the card, you’re done.’
“So then I get introduced to the underground world of zombie cage fights where if you’re willing to put your life on the line, you’ll get paid a little more but you have to accept if you lose, you’re going to die. The core of the story is what will a father do to provide for his children and that’s the story of every parent.”
After the initial run of the comic book, Quarry decided to launch a Kickstarter in order to collect all of the issues into one extended graphic novel.
While he’s obviously collecting money in order to bring the project to fruition, Quarry says the real heart of “Zombie Cage Fighter” from the very beginning was sharing his journey and maybe even inspiring a few people along the way.
“My goal all along wasn’t a monetary one, it was just getting my story out there,” he said. “Everyday, I’m not checking the amount of money coming in. I’m checking how many people have ordered the book.
“The core of the story is just this guy where all of my dreams have died and I have one last thing I want to accomplish and that’s so my little girl doesn’t end up like me. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.”