When Opportunity Knocked

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

It wasn’t like Luke Zachrich was looking for a fight. Literally. He just happened to be the guy available for it.

“I was training with this group of guys, and they had a last-minute opportunity for a fight,” said Zachrich, who told them half-heartedly, “Yeah, I’ll do it.”

“It was an amateur fight. There was no pressure. So I went out and won and had a fun time doing it,” said the 32-year-old UFC fighter with a record of 14-3-0. “I did a couple more fights, and I was training with Dan Severn in Cold Water, Mich., and he sat me down and said, ‘You’ve got a natural gift for this. I think you need to focus,’ and ever since that talk I had with him I’ve been all or nothing. You have to be [dedicated]. If you make it to the highest level, you can’t just go into it half-assed.”

Zachrich, standing 6 feet 2 inches and 185 pounds according to his UFC profile, certainly didn’t half-ass his training for his Nov. 7 fight against Dan Kelly in Australia.

While he said he had a super tough opponent, he was 100 percent prepared for this fight and ready to bring back a win to Columbus.

Zachrich is fighting back after putting his passion on hold for a few years while he dealt with a string of

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

injuries, including torn quadriceps, an ACL injury and herniated discs.

“I had a really rough string of injuries – out of four years, I missed three years of competition,” said Zachrich, who purchased two local Mellow Mushroom restaurants to pay his bills while on hiatus. “It scared me as far as training, because the pain was so bad, and it was injury after injury after injury. I really had to be selective about how I trained and who I trained with.”

Zachrich also wants to help other local fighters get into the ring through his local gym, Ronin Training Center, which he’s been running for three years.

“When I first moved to Columbus, you kind of had to drive around from one place to another to hit all the different disciplines and their gyms,” Zachrich said. “Now there are places where you can go and get it all in one spot.”

And if you don’t have any former training or wrestling skills—don’t worry.

Photo by Chris Casella

Photo by Chris Casella

“Honestly, you don’t have to have anything,” said Zachrich, adding that the training is slow and purposeful. “So you can train all the different aspects of the sport.”