While there, Price saw the night class taught by Frank Cucci. It was the art of Muay Thai, and Price was immediately won over. But as a college student trying to make ends meet, money for classes was not an option. So he offered to clean the mats at the gym. Cucci agreed, and suddenly being arrested on a date led Dorian Price to a discipline that changed his life and helped bring him not only to mixed martial arts, but to the sixth season of the The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
“I would describe it as a beautiful and deadly dance,” said Price of Muay Thai. “And I think what attracts me is the art and discipline you get in Muay Thai. That doesn’t mean there isn’t discipline in MMA, but MMA is. kind of a hybrid thing, I find there are a lot more guys in MMA with egos and things to prove, and Thai boxing is very, very disciplined and I find a lot more people who are more humble in it. I just think it’s a beautiful art form. There is nowhere to hide in Thai boxing. In MMA you can go to the floor and pose and pray, but in Thai boxing you have to. get up. There are only two ways out – either you make the decision or you come out cold. There are no submissions, no way to type – when you are there you are there for the long haul. And for me, it teaches more discipline and perseverance more than MMA. “
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But discipline and perseverance had been instilled in Price long before his first Muay Thai lesson. Born and raised in West Baltimore (a part of the city that was immortalized in the HBO series The Wire), Price had plenty of opportunities to take the wrong path, but it was something his parents wouldn’t allow.
“A lot of people in my situation don’t even have a father in the photo, and I was lucky to have a mother and father around,” he said. “I have two grandparents. A lot of friends I had didn’t have that.
That’s not to say Price was an angel, as his first two years in high school were less than stellar examples of academic excellence – that is, when he showed up at all.
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“In grades 9 and 10, I would show up to school with a basketball to see if I could attract enough people for a 3v3 game,” Price said. “And if no one wanted to go, I would go myself and shoot jumpshots all day.” I never really went to school, and when I did, I didn’t really care.
His parents did not have it however, and when the opportunity presented itself for him to go to Connecticut to enroll in the Avon Old Farms residential school, his father and mother (who has been nicknamed ‘ The Saint of Baltimore ‘for his tendency to have an open door policy for local children who needed a shelter in his home) jumped at the chance.
“When can I get him up there at the earliest, because I can put him on the train tomorrow,” his mother asked.