Wisconsin Man Takes a Step Back from MMA Fighting Career and Becomes a Bird Dog Training Instructor


Mike Vaughn knew that leaving a job you love was the best decision anyone could make. Winnie, the Wisconsin-based mixed martial artist, decided to change his focus to bird dog training. “She kind of drove me to wanting to be better for her,” he told WSAW’s Dale Ryman.

Winnie has been at Vaughn’s side since 2001. She was there for Vaughn’s mixed martial arts success and his eventual world and national champion. She was there for her husband during difficult times. “My divorce, she was with through me with personal relationships, business,”He said. 

Vaughn owned and operated The BLAST Muay Thai Kickboxing Club in Madison for 10 years. When he turned 6, Vaughn got his first taste of mixed martial arts. He’s a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and with his father, was certified in Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. “So, we’re actually third-generation Bruce Lee students,”He said.

His MMA training helped him to become a world-class trainer of bird dogs.

“Building a martial arts student and building a dog were kind of the same idea for me, of like, progressions of where you’re taking them. It just kind of came natural to me,”He said. 

He began training Winnie when she was 8 weeks old, and at first didn’t realize that he could make a living with dog-training business, but he’s found it to be his second dream career. 

“My reward is that, I like to see people have a bond with their dogs like I have. A dog can be kind of a saving grace at times,”He said. 

Now Vaughn spends his days doing what he loves while proving that a dog is indeed man’s best friend.

“Times where you’re, where you’re kind of like, unsure of yourself. Or uncertain of the future where you get that wall in front of you and are just kind of like, hey– I don’t know where I’m going. And then you look down, and you’ve got her looking at you,”He said.