Fighting to Make History

Updated: March 7, 2014


By Nick Barringer

“Fighting with high blood sugar is like fighting with a cold through a fog. Your body doesn’t quite respond instinctively, you’re mentally cloudy, and you get tired easily”

Imagine you are in a cage and across from you stands a hulking beast of a man who wants nothing more than to severe your mind from consciousness or inflict so much pain you have no choice but to submit. Now imagine that he is not the only enemy you have to battle tonight but there is another opponent lurking in your own body ready to wreak havoc and ruin everything you have trained for to come out victorious. Sound daunting? This is what William “Bubba” Bush faces every time he steps into the cage and continues to battle every day.

Bubba is a type I or insulin dependent diabetic. Insulin is hormone produced by the beta cells in the pancreas that is required to allow glucose to enter into the cells. This is how the body manages our blood glucose and for normal individuals when blood glucose goes up or body kicks into to action with appropriate amount of insulin. Bubba’s body does not do this so he has to rely on himself to administer shots of insulin based on his blood glucose readings. This is a delicate balance that he must constantly monitor because if he gives himself too much insulin and his blood glucose goes too low he could go into a coma and die not enough insulin and he could go into a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis which also can be fatal.

bubba-bushIf manages his blood glucose was not enough to worry about Bubba is MMA fighter and The Legacy Fighting Middle Weight Champion to be exact. A title once held and vacated by current UFC Fighter Andrew Craig, the only man who has beat Bubba to date. It was a 5 round war that Craig got the better of but although Bush refuses to make excuses the fact that is blood glucose went out of control and shot up to 360 during that fight did not help his performance.

You see part of our natural “fight or flight” response is that under the stress of a “fight” our body releases sugar or glucose to fuel us fighting or fleeing from our adversary. This mechanism works great for those of us with a working pancreas but this same response can be treacherous for a diabetic. Bush is in the business of fighting so essentially every fight his body is working against him.

As stated in the opening line high blood sugar or hyperglycemia is a performance killer. It causes a cascade of changes in your body in which it can become more acidic and this can eventually cause the individual to start to hyperventilate in an attempt blow off more carbon dioxide. Oh by the way, while you are trying to clear your head and get your breathing under control there is that little matter of your opponent trying to dislodge your head from your body you need to deal with. But this is Bush’s reality and rather than run from it he has chosen to “Ranger Up” and face his diabetes and his opponents head on.

And when I say “head on” I mean that literally as Bush does not fight for points but rather fights to finish, with 6 of his 7 wins ending by TKO or submission. The only true blemish on Bubba’s career as previously mentioned came at the hands of current UFC fighter Andrew Craig who has proven himself as high level fighter with wins over great UFC fighters like Rafael Natal and Chris Leben. I say only true blemish because Bush has one DQ from illegal strikes to the head in a situation very similar to Jon Jones and Matt Hamill.

Bubba’s toughness and resiliency can be traced to his childhood of growing up the son of Marine.

As Bubba describes it: “Growing up the son of a Marine I like to say “I was in Officer Candidate School for 18 years”. My sisters and I reported at attention in age order in the style of the Von Trap family for dinner parties and debriefings”.

What are the most important lessons your father taught you?

The most important thing he ever taught me, aside from the fact that God sacrificed his son Jesus Christ for my sins on the cross, was to never give up. He taught me so many intentional moral lessons, like “bad decisions limit future options” or “a right thing done in a wrong way is wrong, a wrong thing done in a right way is wrong, only a right thing done in a right way is right.” He also taught me innumerable tactical, historical, and competitive lessons borrowed from Lombardi, Patton, etc: “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, “a good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan next week”, “God uses prepared people”. But no lesson did he model more than this one, and that’s why it stuck with me and defines my sense of manhood: you can’t beat a man that won’t quit. Life can’t beat him. Opponents can’t beat him. Disease can’t beat him. Because there is a difference between losing, and being beaten. I’ve lost before, but until you quit, you’ve never been beaten, and that’s something worthy of respect.

When did you learn you had diabetes and what did that feel like?

I found out I had diabetes during the Virginia AAA Regional Championship Tournament. My cardio was always my greatest weapon, and then I hit a wall in the first 2 minutes of a match against an opponent I had already beaten three times that season. I went on to lose again to someone I had already beaten, going from the #1 seed to being eliminated on the first day. I felt tired all the time. I drank 3-4 gallons a day and was always thirsty, I even lost my vision to the point where I couldn’t read. My dad diagnosed me on the way to watch my teammates at the State Tournament and we got it confirmed with a hospital visit upon our return. My parents only knew enough about it to suspect that it was the culprit. The doctors filled us in, and from there I had to make the choice-be angry at God at having been prepared for a lifetime to go into military service, or trust that he loved me more than I loved myself and that he knew more about His purpose for my life than I did, and move forward.

Bubba continues to move forward with a resiliency and drive is so unique that he is currently the only active diabetic MMA athlete competing at a high level and definitely the only one holding a championship belt. This is a remarkable and unprecedented accomplishment yet Bubba’s aspirations remain higher. Bush is determine to climb the MMA precipice all the way to the UFC where he will make history as the first type I diabetic athlete to ever compete in the octagon.

So I’d like to ask you loyal Rhino Den to help support Bubba’s fight to make history. I like to think if some of the 265,000 people who like Ranger Up happened to let @danawhite know that a history making fighter is waiting to be signed, it might just happen.

After all as General Patton once said:

“It is only by doing things others have not that one can advance.”

Oh and I would be remiss if I did not mention that come to find out Bush is a pretty nice guy as well. Although he did not mention this to me for this article I found out that he donated his entire fight bonus from his most recent fight to an organization that helps victims of sex trafficking. Yeah on top of being an outstanding MMA fighter turns out he is solid role model to boot. Sounds like a great addition to the UFC to me. Seriously folks let’s make this happen.



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