For years, Ode Osbourne followed in the footsteps of the great middleweight champion Rich Franklin: math teacher by day, MMA fighter by night. After signing with the UFC, the need for Osbourne to work two jobs was diminishing, if not entirely gone. However, his love for education kept him in front of the classroom.
Although the love was there for both professions, Osbourne began to realize that he couldn’t do both. After a brutal loss to a top flyweight contender, Osbourne decided that he couldn’t keep up his double life and had to make a choice.
“Actually, I quit my job to move out here to Vegas a few months ago before my last fight, when I fought in Madison Square Garden,” Osbourne explained. “After I fought Manel Kape and he had that flying knee, I had a rude awakening – you know what, I can’t do both.”
And while it may seem like the easiest decision – be a professional athlete in front of millions of fans on TV or teach subtraction in front of 25 pre-teens – it wasn’t so cut and dry for Osbourne. At the end of the day he choose MMA, which led to a subsequent move out to Syndicate MMA in Vegas, but it wasn’t a decision he enjoyed making.
“Honestly, it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I love teaching, it’s my passion. I love working with kids and everything,” he said. “I’ve said this dozens and dozens of times – it’s the airplane oxygen mask theory. You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can put the oxygen mask on everybody else.”
And that thread of wanting to come back and help the youth of America, when he has more time and resources, is important to Osbourne. While he’s closed that textbook for the time being, there will be another day that he goes back to working with kids – no matter how well his time in the UFC goes.
“If this MMA/UFC goes really well and I become a champion, it doesn’t matter. Champion or no champion, I work with kids because I love working with kids, not because of the money,” Osbourne said. “Now that I’ve been away for awhile, I think I would more so want to do something along the lines of working with a school instead of working in a school.”
You can catch Ode Osbourne’s fight with Zarrukh Adashev at UFC Vegas 56 this Saturday. The fight will air on ESPN+
You can hear the entire audio of this interview at 28:22.