Photo: From left: Kris Bryan, Brian Bird, Chad, Kyle Anheliger.
Small in stature, yet immense in performance, Chad “The Monster” Anheliger has literally fought his way to the top of the mixed martial arts (MMA) world.
It took 13 years of blood, sweat and fears for the energetic freestyle fighter to become a name on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) scene.
“I got that nickname from my teammates,” says Anheliger of his adopted moniker. “They said I train like a monster, never quit like a monster, no fear like a monster.”
The modern-day gladiator was born in Kelowna, B.C., and raised in Consort, Alberta, living for a short time in Calgary before eventually calling Airdrie home. An avid athlete growing up, Anheliger went as far as he could in the typical small-town hockey rink, eventually craving more physical challenge.
“Basically, I played whatever sports were available in the small town and hockey was really the only thing. I played it as far and competitively as I could. Once I was done with that, I still had a real big competitive drive for athletics.”
Searching for an alternate corporal outlet in his early twenties, the ultimate fighter jabbed his way through boxing gyms and several non-contact martial arts. But he felt something was missing in the traditional fighting systems.
“I’ve done traditional martial arts as well, in jiu-jitsu, wrestling, judo and Muay Thai. Those were fun, but they were still built around a rule set that you had to follow. Certain things were illegal in certain martial arts, but they were still effective,” says Aneliger, co-owner of Champions Creed Gym in Calgary.
“MMA was a way of using the most effective parts of different martial arts. I like the ability to make your own style and less limitation of rules that makes it more of a fierce competition.”
The bantam weight, five-foot-six, 135-pound competitor entered his first MMA ring in 2010, using an element of fear as part of his fighting philosophy.
“When I first started, I just wanted to try something totally out of my comfort zone and push my limits, and I did that, being afraid of getting hurt or embarrassed.
“As I grew in the sport, the fear was less about getting hurt and became about not performing at my best. It’s all been evolving. There’s new fears all the time, the fears change, but there’s still always fear in what you do.”
Anheliger has amassed a 12-6-0 record since entering the ring. Among his seven knockout victories, and six first-round finishes, two were title fights.
After a relatively slow start to his career, he began to find his form in 2016 with 10-straight wins in different leagues, fighting through the Hard Knocks and Rise fighting championships. He eventually earned a spot in Dana White’s Contender Series finally signing and competing among the top-spot UFC echelon.
“I got my opportunity in the Contenders series and made the most of it and got my UFC contract,” says the 36-year old, which makes him just above the average age of UFC combatants.
“It’s a very long road, so although it might seem like I’m pretty old to be competing, I still have a few years of solid competition left and want take it as far as I can go,” he says, adding that he’s targeting a Canadian UFC Vancouver event in June.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve put in the diligent work of building my marital arts foundation. That’s why I can still compete, and I am still competing at the highest level in the world.”