The life of Ryan LaFlare fills up quickly, just as it does for many people who balance life’s offerings. Husband, father to two young children, coach, small business owner.
And there’s his third job – professional mixed martial artist in the UFC’s welterweight division. That’s the one that consumes much of his time.
“I take it so seriously,” said LaFlare, who grew up in Lindenhurst and now co-owns Long Island MMA in Farmingdale. “People don’t understand this, I have so much going on that this is the most important thing in the world. It sounds selfish. I have a beautiful family, two kids and a wife, but it’s the most important thing.”
The narrowing of LaFlare’s focus starts about eight weeks ahead of his fight, he said. It comes to fruition this Saturday at UFC 229 in Las Vegas when LaFlare faces Tony Martin. The bout will air on Fight Pass, the UFC’s streaming service.
Along the way, some things take a backseat. Business responsibilities at LIMMA get delegated. The circle of friends he sees shrinks a bit. His wife, Danielle, takes over as the family’s “super mom.”
“It consumes all of my mental and physical strength,” LaFlare said. “Winning this fight is the most important thing in the world, and then everything else is second. It sounds messed up and it sounds selfish, and that’s why I can only take it one fight at a time because I am so competitive and so eager to get out there and do what I have to do.”
What he has to do is win his fight, the last on his current UFC contract. The competitive streak in him won’t allow for anything else. He seemed unfazed that he’s on the undercard of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor in what is being considered the biggest fight in UFC history.
LaFlare (13-2, 7-2 UFC) won his last fight in April by unanimous decision against Alex Garcia. On that same card, Martin (12-4, 3-1) won by unanimous decision over Keita Nakamura. LaFlare has won three of his last four bouts, the lone loss being a second-round knockout to Alex Oliveira at Nassau Coliseum in the summer of 2017.
That knockout was a reminder for LaFlare to focus only on one fight at a time.
“You can’t consume your brain with ‘OK, next year,’” he said. “Any time I was like, ‘OK, after I win this fight,’ there was a setback. One fight at a time.”
One fight, one focus.
“I’d literally go out there and take my arm off and hit the guy with my arm in order to win,” LaFlare said. “That’s how important it is for me to win.”