Elias Egozi cannot avoid putting his back to the wall. When he’s not training for his first mixed martial arts fight since knee surgery, he tries to get his new medical dispensary, Alto, which started in south Denver amid the weakest medical marijuana sales of the past decade. There are, however, many reasons for optimism.
The amateur MMA fighter, member of Elevation Combat Teamplans to open Alto to recreational sales by early 2023, and has just released its rosin brand, Egozi, in a handful of metro area dispensaries to strong reviews. Heading into his Oct. 15 fight against Drew Johnson at the Aurora Stampede, Egozi won’t be taking a break from the lab.
“During fight week, I usually work more,” he says.
Martial arts help Egozi stay balanced. And much like the rosin he presses, the welterweight says he thrives under pressure. We sat down with Egozi, who spends his days training with UFC fighters, to find out more about his next match and how he’s balancing MMA training with running a new MMA business. cannabis.
West word: How are new businesses doing since you opened in June?
Elias Egozi: The store has been good, but the medical side is a bit slow. We are heading for recreational sales, probably by the first of next year. We also already sell recreational rosin wholesale, which has been the main focus. The medical store was fun to open and we’ll see what happens, but the focus was on the back of the house. The first drops started last week and we hit Eclipse in Boulder. We hit Reefer Madness, Little Brown House and the Center today.
How hard is it to train for a fight while starting a new business?
It was hard. Really hard. Not just physically, but mentally. I don’t have the same mental energy that I thought I had. I also realize that my teammates are able to train harder because after training they go home and hang out, but I have to come here to work for a few hours before I go back to training. That’s expensive.
There’s this constant fear that if I focus on one thing, I’m falling behind on another. There is a lot of back and forth, but I manage. It’s just another challenge to be a cage fighter and cannabis operator.
If you had to pick one state to do both, Colorado is tough to beat.
Oh yeah. There’s nowhere else where you actually have a chance of succeeding at both. You might be able to choose one or the other, depending on where you were. It’s really cool here, though, and there’s some sick MMA and great cannabis opportunities. I know some people might not think so, but there are still plenty of opportunities in Colorado if you care about cannabis and have a good product.
Why did you start competing in MMA?
I had always dabbled. I did karate as a kid and did a bit of MMA in my early twenties when I lived in Miami. After moving here, I was partying a lot and wandering off in life, and I remembered that the gym was a place that kept me honest. I went there one day to break my party habit, and if I start doing something, I usually do it a lot.
I went to the gym almost every day for about three years and couldn’t stop thinking about competing. We held in-house kickboxing fights against teammates, and I did really well. I liked it a lot and thought it was worth moving forward.
Tell us about your October 15 fight. What are you waiting for there?
I’m fighting a guy who’s fought two of my last three opponents, which is interesting. He’s an active guy on the amateur MMA circuit. It’s my first fight after knee surgery, so getting back into shape has been a challenge. I always knew I wouldn’t be in shape, but getting back into fighting shape takes so much more. And that last 10% of conditioning, what we’re looking for is what goes away first and takes the longest to come back. In most sports, being tired and not making good plays can mean missing balls or catches, but for me it means getting beat up and taking more damage.
It’s interesting, because I can see how he handled his opponents and how they gave him a hard time. This is the first fight where I had data, because I’m a new fighter, and I fight other new fighters without a lot of data. For me, that’s an advantage, because I consider myself more of a mental fighter. So far I’ve been there against random packs.
What is your ultimate goal with MMA?
It’s an interesting question, because I’m considered old for the sport. I’ll be 34 next week and I’m still getting started, but the point of everything is to always do it the best I can. In this sport, that would be going to the UFC, so that’s the goal. I’m realistic about it, but I think I have an interesting perspective starting the sport at a more mature age than others. I would like to gain enough experience to one day coach and train young fighters to stay connected to the sport.
What do you get out of it in the short term? It seems like a lot to put you through.
The challenge itself is a plus for me, as I respond to pressure and like to go big. The fact that I’m doing something so difficult and training alongside people who excel at it – UFC fighters, champions and geniuses in this field – is very inspiring. The physical benefit is obvious, and the mental clarity really helps me too. During the hour you do this, you can’t really think of anything else or you’ll hurt yourself. There aren’t many activities that really clear your mind of all that crap like that. You may think of something when you walk in, but you can’t remember what it was when you walk out. I love this part.