NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Be weird.
That personal philosophy has taken a former music marketing consultant in a very different direction in life. It's a story of facing challenges and doing the unexpected.
"I just always enjoyed breaking the mold a little bit if I can," said Mickey Gallus, smiling as he sat in the gym he owns.
Before owning the gym, Mickey worked as a music marketing consultant. It was six years ago, he could strongly feel what was wrong with his heart.
"It was like a square tire rolling over and stopping almost," he remembered. "I had murmurs. I had flutter. I had SVT. I had a lot of stuff going wrong with my heart. I had three ablations. Having a bad heart and knowing at any moment, I could have a stroke or heart attack, I knew I needed something new, something different than getting by."
With new perspective, Mickey did something nobody expected.
He suited up in full body armor. In a practice round, he was about to face an opponent in armored combat.
"I've had the tendons knocked out of my arm with an ax before," he said. "It is one-on-one MMA, just with weapons and shields. Most people don't understand why you'd do something like this. They think it's an extraordinarily dangerous sport, which it is. The armor does its job."
Mickey teaches his classes full of other people taking an unexpected path.
"I'm the owner of Nashville Armored Combat," he said, explaining his gym.
"Armored combat is any form of steel fighting that involves no stabbing, just concussive strikes of steel weapons against real steel armor," he continued. "People have been fighting with weapons and challenging duals forever. This is just a sports version of what's been happening for centuries."
This week, crowds gathered at The Nashville Palace for a series of armored combat cage matches. Mickey headed in to face a longtime rival.
"Everything just shuts off," he said of going into fights. "I can't hear anything. I can't see anything. A lot of people say I just zone out. It's all instinct. I think people suspend reality for a little bit because people see us in this armor. We're taking these massive hits from weapons, punches in the face, kicks. People think we're invincible."
There's something Mickey wants people to understand about the path he's taken.
"Until you've pushed yourself beyond what you think you can do, you'll never really know," he said. "Anything you wanna do, find a way. Do it and be happy. Be weird."