Getting to the UFC is hard for upcoming MMA prospects. There's fitting countless hours of training into daily life which includes a day job, family but rarely ever enough sleep.
There's taking fights on short notice, fighting ridiculously often, all to try and improve yourself and get the attention of the UFC brass. Chasing the dream is often arduous but once that dream is realized, coming back to reality can be even harder.
Take Alex "The Spartan" White. The featherweight made a stunningly successful UFC debut last April with a first round KO.
His win was the culmination of an inspiring journey. White had changed his life and transformed himself with martial arts training and fighting and winning in the UFC was the dream that fueled his long days of working a day job, sandwiched by intense hours of training .
White was elated by the victory but once the party was over, he went back to the same old grind. These days, he may be an undefeated UFC fighter who can be seen by millions on television, but Alex White is still the same blue-collar guy he's always been and that means early mornings and late nights.
"It can be hard, I'm up at 5:40am to work out before work," White admits when asked if it has been tough to go from the high of achieving his UFC dream to returning to the "real world" of balancing two simultaneous careers.
"After work, go to the gym not home until after 8pm. There isn't much time left after all that."
Even so, White's decision to keep his day job while fighting in the UFC has been a conscious decision on his part. The responsible family man doesn't mind working extra to save for the future.
"I want to get more settled before I do fighting full time," he tells Cagewriter.
"If things go well and I can train and fight full time one day, I'd love to."
Should "The Spartan" ever focus 100% on his fight career, the sky may be the limit. He's got the size, speed, aggressiveness and -perhaps most importantly - composure to succeed in the UFC. There have been volumes written on the extra jitters fighters get when fighting in the UFC's vaunted Octagon for the first time but White seemed completely comfortable and unfazed by the stage in his first bout.
"You get nervous before fights and the UFC is a big deal so, of course, you get more nervous," he admits.
"But as soon as that first punch was thrown, you forget all that. You're in a fight."
White takes a step up in competition in his next bout, a main card bout against Lucas Martins Wednesday at UFC Fight Night. White is happy to be fighting again so soon after his debut and anticipates a striking battle with the Brazilian.
"He's good, tough and experienced," White says of Martins.
"He also likes to kick box so I hope we'll put on a great show for fans. I think we'll swing hard. That's what I want."