In September of 2009, Tim Credeur fought the fight of his career against Nate Quarry, only to lose a heartbreaking three round decision.
Seven months later, he was faced with the biggest fight of his life, and it was one he couldn’t afford to lose.
It all started with the usual medicals he needed to get for his UFC 113 bout with Tom Lawlor in May of 2010. It was his first fight back since his 15 minute war with Quarry, his first UFC loss, and fans were anticipating the middleweight showdown. It was a routine process until it wasn’t routine anymore, and Credeur’s doctor called him in to explain that there was something showing up on his brain, but that he wasn’t sure what it was. Worst case scenario, it was a brain tumor. Even worse than that, since it was located in the hypothalamus, it was inoperable.
Credeur, 32 at the time, had been training in martial arts since he was a teenager. Fighting was a huge part of his life. A bigger part was his wife Mamie, and as he left the doctor’s office, he struggled to come up with a plan on how to tell her.
But she called first.
He froze, not ready yet. But even if he was, she had news of her own. She was pregnant with their first child. The specter of death and the promise of life intersected that day in Louisiana, and if Credeur wanted to get a glimpse at the cruel jokes life can play on us, he instead got an eyeful.
“As nervous as I was about not fighting again, I had to shelf that,” said Credeur. “It wasn’t really the priority. My wife is my number one priority and I had to figure out a way to shelf my problems and shelf my frustrations and be excited with her and make her feel okay. So I didn’t tell her anything for a little over a week. Then we talked about it and figured out what we were gonna do. It was kind of a blessing in disguise because since I couldn’t fight, I had to focus on some other things. I had the opportunity to build my business, build my gym, train a bunch of other fighters and focus on things I hadn’t been focusing on. I had been focusing on myself.”
There was still the unknown mark on his brain scan though, and as the months went by, he had to return to the doctor several times.
“We had to do multiple scans over time,” he said. “It was so small and so minor that they weren’t sure if it was the beginning of an aneurysm or a tumor. They weren’t really sure what it was, but maybe it was too dangerous for me to be fighting.”
Each subsequent scan brought a little hope, but at the same time, more questions.
“Am I gonna be able to be the father that I’ve always wanted to be?”
“What’s gonna happen to my wife?”
Finally, after a crushing wait of nearly seven months, Credeur got some unexpected good news.
“I’m okay, the thing in my brain was kinda just an anomaly, a freckle, something I was probably born with,” he said, sounding drained after reliving the worst ordeal of his life. Two weeks later, more good news as Mamie gave birth to Audrey in January of this year.
Tim Credeur was alive, was going to stay that way, and he was a daddy. But the first person he gives credit to is his wife.
“My wife’s tough, man,” he said. “She’s amazing. She’s been with me through thick and thin for ten years and she stuck by my side and we gutted through it, we made it work, and we’re okay.”
There was only one thing missing…
And after getting cleared to resume training and his fighting career, Credeur signed a contract to face Ed Herman this Saturday on the Ultimate Fighter Finale card in Las Vegas. For the native of Lafayette, Louisiana, it’s like reconnecting with an old friend.
“The biggest thing that I missed was the competition,” he said. “Competing’s in my blood. I’m not the greatest athlete and I’m not the greatest talent, but that fire to compete and the enjoyment of being in the ring and getting into some battles with some of the best fighters in the world is what I miss the most. We’ve got to support our families, but I don’t really care so much about the money, and I’m not trying to be famous. I’m not trying to do nothing else other than getting some fights. That’s all I really want to do. That’s why I got in this sport. I started when I was about 14 years old and I’ve been headlong into it ever since then.”
He almost lost it too, but that only makes him want it more.
“Sometimes horrible things that happen to us are really just blessings in disguise,” he said. “So I’m lucky to be able to walk away from those things a better person, a stronger person, and I thank God for the gifts we have and the blessings we have. I’m blessed to be able to compete in a sport that’s always been my dream and something I wanted to be a part of. Now more than ever, I’m more inspired, more focused, and more dedicated, and more excited.”
Fight fans should be excited as well, because Credeur is one of those rare souls who will always deliver a supreme effort in the Octagon by being completely willing to put himself in harm’s way. The Quarry fight was the most shining example of this, as he basically threw his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu to the side in favor of a slugfest with one of the hardest-hitting 185 pounders in the world. And the shocking part of the whole ordeal was that Credeur was winning exchanges and hurting Quarry on a number of occasions before the “Rock” would roar back and tag “Crazy Tim.” It was a grueling battle to remember for Credeur, regardless of the result.
“I might drop some fights sometimes, and Nate Quarry beat me fair and square, but Tim Credeur is not gonna beat Tim Credeur,” he said. “I’m gonna get in there every time and fight my heart out. I’m never gonna go in there and try to eke out a decision or fight the smart fight or keep my distance and win on points. I’m never gonna fight like that. I’m not saying the way I fight is any smarter; maybe it’s not, but at least when I’m fighting, people are gonna be standing up in their living rooms hollering at the TV. If at some point that costs me my career, I don’t care. I’m gonna keep on doing it until the wheels fall off.”
That’s toughness you can’t buy and you can’t learn it either. Where does Credeur’s come from? Louisiana soil.
“Let’s be honest,” he said. “I was not a widely recruited high school athlete for any sport, I’m not this great Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion talent that was scouted by the UFC. I’m not that and I never have been; I’m just a guy that worked really, really hard and made sacrifices a bunch of other people weren’t willing to make to be where I’m at. And when I get in there, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna beat myself. As best as I can, I’m gonna fight until either he falls down or I fall down or my heart explodes. That’s the only way that I really know how. Some of that is because of the way that I’ve been raised. In Louisiana, there’s a really blue collar mentality. We work for everything we have. So many things go wrong in our state – hurricanes destroy our homes, our lives are destroyed by the whims of the oil barons, and the oil explosion in the gulf pretty much ruined our economy. I think Louisiana is ranked 49th in the country in everything – education, roads, everything. It’s a hard life down here, and it’s tough. So to get by it takes hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. And that’s all I know.”
Audrey Credeur will learn those lessons some day as well, and when she does, that will be more important to her father than any victories in the Octagon or world championship belts around his waist. If he didn’t before, he certainly knows now how precious life is, and he’s living every moment of it to the fullest. Is there any better legacy to leave your child?
“I just hope that when my daughter looks back at my life, she’s proud of who her dad is,” he said. “I want her to be filled with pride at the sacrifices I made for her, the way I raised her, the integrity that I showed in my life and the kind of man that I was.”
Crazy Tim's Even Crazier Ride Back to the UFC
"When I’m fighting, people are gonna be standing up in their living rooms hollering at the TV. If at some point that costs me my career, I don’t care. I’m gonna keep on doing it until the wheels fall off.” - Tim Credeur