WYC 095 – From Spanish Teacher to MMA Fighter – Charlie ‘The Spaniard’ Brenneman

In 2007, Charlie Brenneman left the comfort of his hometown and full-time job as a Spanish teacher to pursue a career in mixed martial arts.

What started out as a dream soon turned into reality. Charlie fought at every level of the industry, including an 11-fight UFC career. After upsetting #6 ranked Rick Story in 2011, his life changed as he skyrocketed into the world rankings and went head-to-head with the best fighters in the world, such as UFC Champion Johny Hendricks and current top-ranked light heavyweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

The key ingredient in his climb to the top – HARD WORK.

Website: charlie-brenneman.com

Twitter: @SpaniardMMA

Facebook: /SpaniardMMA


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‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit’

What types of goals did you set when you set out on this course to fight in the MMA?

  • The goal is not the be-all-end-all. It’s the experience, knowledge, the process that you gained in the pursuit of the goal. Process vs. outcome

Your book is titled ‘Driven’ – what does it mean to be driven?

  • Charlie spent a whole bunch of time on the road driving around to be around the best trainers. So the title ‘Driven’ is a double-meaning of being driven and motivated while at the same time spending a bunch of time on the road driving to his training.


  • Preparation = Self-confidence
  • Preparation trumps self-doubt


  • Don’t pretend something bad didn’t happen. But set a timeframe to allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself, then move on. This timeframe could be 3 seconds, it could be 7 days (in the case of Charlie after a tough MMA loss.)

‘Get serious about having fun’

  • It’s all about perspective – don’t lose perspective that playing sports should be fun

‘A fighter’s mindset’ Podcast:

  • ‘How you do one thing is how you do everything’ – Mike Tyson quoting Cus D’Amato
  • In everything Charlie does, he prepares for it as he would a fight: with discipline, with self-confidence, extreme preparation, resilience, perseverance

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

His Dad: Humility: ‘Don’t go around telling others how good you are, let them tell you’

Favorite success or leadership quote? Favorite success or leadership book?

  • Quote: ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit’
  • Book: Extreme Ownership – Navy Seal author Jocko Willink

Parting Advice

  • ‘Be the change you want to see’


  • Podcasts, book, blog, daily reading videos, and much more!

Website: charlie-brenneman.com

Twitter: @SpaniardMMA

Facebook: /SpaniardMMA


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