“No citizen has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. What a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
I don’t make any secret of trying new diets, experimenting to find the right one. My will-power is pretty strong, I’m not the type to go smash a cake or go to a Buffett (except for post fight, then, glutton). It’s a never ending quest to find the one that suits me best, the one that will make me perform better, smash training partners and opponents alike . In terms of “goals” I put overall health above everything. Being mortal, I’m very concerned with this whole dying thing, it’s bothersome. I was fortunately/unfortunately blessed with a tongue that lacks taste buds. Plain oatmeal or gourmet restaurant, it’s all the same.
In mma it’s a constant struggle to control weight gain/loss. If I get too heavy, it’s a struggle to get back down to fight weight. So needless to say, I’ve tried every diet from lower calories, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, you name it. They all worked in different ways. I’ve made weight using all of them, so no doubt a controlled diet will do that job. But which one will make me perform the best? Vegetarian made me moody, it was like I was having a man-period at all times, damn near crying over spilled milk. Paleo taught me a lot, processed food robs the nutrients from food and the perimeter of the grocery store is where you want to be.
The latest thing? Warrior diet. For those of you who you don’t know, here’s a quick run down. 20 hour fast, four hour feast. I’m not going to get into the science behind it, a quick google search will give you a more in depth do’s and don’ts. So here’s what my days have been looking like…
1. 8am:Wake up, slam 16oz of water with green tea extract, vitamin d drops and half of a squeezed lemon
2. 830: #bulletproofcoffee which consists of two cups of coffee, two tbsp of grass fed butter, one tbsp of mct/brain octane oil and a tbsp of collagen protein, all blended. Taken in place of a preworkout, while calorically high, guaranteed to have a steadier state of energy with no crash.
3. 9am: workout, lifting/sprints/metabolic, one or the other.
4. 1030: post WO recovery shake, 1 scoop of #nutrilite meal replacement powder, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, tbsp chia seeds. I prefer meal replacement over protein because it has a good ratio of carbs and protein.
5. 1-130: various nuts, almonds, walnuts etc about 20 total and 1cup of mixed berries, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, whatever is on hand.
6. 3:00: salad! I chop two cups of various unimportant veggies, whatever is in the fridge, two handfuls of spinach or kale, 1 tbsp each of olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
7. 5-9pm feast! All the chicken/fish/steak I want. I don’t mix proteins so it’s one or the other. I also try to have some more fat, avocado usually. Last night I had 13oz of chicken thighs and two cups of Brussels sprouts with garlic and onions.
Training session number two varies for time, usually 630 for technical training/sparring/rolling depending on the day. Some days I have a third session earlier in the day.
Water intake: I try to finish a gallon of water with cayenne pepper, lemon and bcaa’s throughout the day.
Energy levels: thus far have been good, the bulletproofcoffee is the best pre workout I’ve ever had, no energy spikes just a steady rate, love it. I broke a deadlift PR yesterday and Last night was marathon roll, 10x5min rounds back to back. I didn’t gas at all and went at a hard pace with high level guys each round.
Hunger: So the snacks keep me satisfied throughout the day, the water keeps my belly full until feast time. Usually when you don’t have cravings for fatty/sugary/salty foods it’s a good indication that your metabolism is running efficiently. Happy to say I’m not craving anything one month in.
Weight loss: I haven’t been measuring weight loss, I don’t unless I have to make a deadlined weight. My upper body is a lot bigger as I’m doing strength training at the moment, waste size is down fortunately. If take a selfie or before and after but honestly there are enough pictures of me shirtless out there, I think you get the picture. No need for more self indulgence haha.
Overall I’m happy with this diet/style of eating. I like that I can eat a bit chaotic for four hours of the day and controlled for the rest. It’s a nice balance. I’ll need to do it for a longer period of time to really see the effects, so far so good. I’m not saying this is the best one out there and it might not fit your goals/needs/lifestyle, but it’s definitely working with mine. As always, to the death and namaste, mfers.
Before we talk about last night, lightning striking twice, bad luck etc. let’s talk about another hero of mine that I’ve always looked up to; Achilles, hero of the Greek Army and all around virtuoso of the battle field,struck down in his prime.
My old man would read me various books as a kid, one of them was called Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton. It’s a very good intro to Greek mythology, outlining the more well known myths and legends including the Trojan war. Achilles was my favorite character. He was peerless on the battlefield, always one step ahead of everyone. His speed, agility etc couldn’t be matched and made the rest of the soldiers seem slow in comparison. When he is reveling in battle, a chance arrow is shot, one in a million, and hits him in the leg. Boom there goes what should have been histories greatest warrior, now remembered as a weak tendon in the leg.
Now back to the present. Anderson Silva is the best fighter of our generation. He’s not only fought and beat the best in the division but has done so in seemingly easy fashion. He makes his opponents look silly, seeming bored even in his fights, dancing and goofing around in the most inappropriate of times, punches and kicks whizzing by. He went too far when he fought Weidman and his antics cost him the belt after being caught by a vicious left hand.
Last nights fight was supposed to be different. We were supposed to see a hungry and motivated legend that would redeem himself. Midway through the second round he threw the same chopping leg kick that he had thrown countless other times and was checked by a well timed Weidman shin. Silvas leg shattered and he crumpled into a heap. Everyone watching was shocked, not believing their own eyes.
The part that saddens me the most about this is not that he lost. It’s that he’s going to be remembered not for his amazing fight prowess or uncanny abilities but for his one unlucky kick he threw that ended his career. If you type the words Anderson Silva right now into a google search, “broken leg” will pop up immediately with it. Not greatest fighter of all time or longest reigning champion, just broken leg or some form of the sentence.
Instead of being remembered for being the greatest warrior on the battlefield, Achilles is remembered as the one that was killed by an arrow to the leg. He didn’t get to die on his shield as they say, he wasn’t beset on all sides by warriors, taking as many as possible with him to Tartarus. No, he was simply shot down by a lucky arrow. Fate is a cruel mistress, fans of our sport even more cruel. At Silvas age, who knows if it’s too late for him to rise from this, making a comeback. For Anderson Silvas peace of mind, his families, and his legacy, I wish him a speedy recovery.
Post script: no amount of calcium, tree kicking, or shin conditioning is going to help you prevent that happening. That same injury happens all the time in Muay Thai fights where kicks are far more numerous. It’s just never happened on that big of a stage. Hope for the best and chok dee when you throw kicks!
I’ve been hearing a very pessimistic view from a lot of people about setting a New Years resolution. Like why would you set a goal for the end of the year instead of just starting today or stating the percentage rate of successful resolutions (8%). I get it, people like deadlines, it helps us get motivated. So people try things, fail, bend the goal, make a new one etc. it’s natural. The cool thing about humans is our ability to overcome, by trial and error. We fall, get up, fall again, but eventually we reach the top of the mountain. It’s what makes us so awesome! Anyway, enough about us, let’s talk about why we fail.
So you want to quit smoking, Great! I can’t stand cigarette smoke so the less of you the better. You smoke your last cigarette New Year’s Eve, boom easy. The next morning you wake up and you feel fine. The hours at work begin to take their toll. You start stressing out, the day is rough. Forget it, you go to the store, buy a new pack. You’ll start quitting after this pack.
Is it because your addiction is stronger than your will power? Do you love these death sticks more than you love your health? I doubt it. It happens, old habits die hard. Don’t beat yourself up about it, 92% of people failed along with you. You aren’t alone.
So here’s where I think (most) people that set resolutions go wrong; lack of preparation. You waited until the very last second, quitting cold turkey. A week before you should have been wheening yourself from it, one less cigarette a day or whatever system works for you. I’m not sure how it works, but a gradual decrease in anything is better than quitting altogether. The success rate between the two is night and day.
Preparation and planning is the key. If you set a dead line for yourself, great! Regardless of the day, you need to plan well in advance for whatever it is you plan on quitting/doing. Research what has worked for others, what didn’t, and what works best for your lifestyle. If you want to climb a mountain on the other side of the world, start saving well in advance, book flights ahead of time, make a schedule etc because before you know it a year is up and things can change at any given time. No warrior worth his salt goes into battle unprepared.
Another big one is weight loss. I feel for people with this goal because it’s such a hard one and most of the time it’s genetic, not a cake addiction. With media shoving models and athletes down our throats, we have a very twisted sense of what is ideal. I want to look like Arnold in his heyday, but I know that’s pretty unrealistic for my lifestyle. My best advice for people that want to change their look is to research nutrition first, make your own meals and then when that is on point, start hitting the gym. I don’t care if it’s Zumba or crossfit, something is better than sitting on the couch, wishing your weight away.
So in closing, tell the pessimists to suck it and get after it. Start your New Years resolution preparation today, it’s not too late. Whether it’s to stop smoking, traveling to a foreign country, give up binge drinking, I guarantee there is a method that will work for you IF it’s important to you. If it’s weight loss or muscle building, come see me at Guerilla BJJ or Bodies By Amorim. I’ll help you help yourself. My resolution? UFC or bust.
To the death!
Weight cutting/body transformation week 1
I’ve been fighting for a long time, not counting the years of wrestling and boxing I did before. I turned pro in 2005 at age 18. For as long as I could remember I’ve been punching and kicking imaginary opponents/world champions.To this day when I shadow box I still do the same thing. When I first started out fighting, I’d be scheduled for a fight a month in advance, then I’d start training hard, sparring would intensify and cardio would be kicked up a notch. Then I’d fight and my opponent and I would be terribly gassed by the end of the fight. I assumed that was part of fighting.
Then the UFC started doing the countdowns, the training camps of champions and challengers leading up to the big fights. I saw guys like Sean Sherk and GSP doing all these crazy exercises and really training at a different level than what I had seen. They were in terrific shape, going 100% the entire fight and still looking strong after the. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even understand how or where to begin. I changed my ways a bit after that, doing more cardio in-between fights, cleaning up my diet a little. But it wasn’t enough.
A couple of years ago I was signed to a Bellator contract, basically the number two organization behind the UFC. In order to compete with these guys I had to take my training to another level. Not just physically but mentally. A lot of people don’t understand how much ring jitters and anxiety plays such a pivotal role in the fight business. I had to step up my game in every aspect.
I hired a great mental coach in Englishman Scott Stevenson, a sports psychology professor and all around mental Jedi. The guy knows his stuff, working with many top athletes from around the world. After many long sessions and conversations, I can attest that I have less anxiety in life and fighting, as well as not having had a Snickers bar in over a year.
Alongside Scott I worked with a couple of fitness gurus who implement Martin Rooneys Training For Warriors, a great all around program that took my fitness up to the next level. Being strong or good isn’t enough in mma, you have to have a complete package.
Since coming back to the states I’ve teamed up with a great BJJ professor, Dave Camarillo black belt and co founder of Guerilla jiu Jitsu, Matt Darcy. My technique is going through the roof and I’m actually applying proper technique, something I neglect by using more athleticism.
Last but not least my new strength and conditioning coaches, Travis and Kevin, owners of Bodies by Amorim. Since coming to them I feel like I’m going to break people. With all the tire flipping and sledgehammer swinging I’ve been doing, my body has never looked better. I’ve always had a chubbier build, strong but not ripped like others in my profession. The only time I’d see abs was the day of weigh ins. Not anymore. For the first time in my life I have a six pack. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made.
So for this camp I did a 12 week periodization training and I’m coming into my last 4 weeks. I won’t tell you about the technical sides of my training, that stuff is a secret. The first four weeks I did Olympic power lifting, basically low reps heavy weight, maximum strength. I got huge! I bulked up to about 190. The next phase I did functional weight lifting. The movement under load, so still heavy weights but more movement involved, like weighted lunges, more functional type lifts to get my power up.
These four weeks I’m going to strictly be doing conditioning, body weight exercises. Today I weighed in at 182, I’ve lost a little bit of muscle mass in the last 4 weeks from not lifting as heavy, a natural and beneficial side effect. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been going into these last four weeks. Every week I’ll be documenting my conditioning, my diet/portion control and body weight. I’m excited for oct 11th, the fighter on that day will be leaps and bounds above that cocky 18 year old kid that was in over my head when i started. Join me in my journey, fly with me. It’s time to Rise.
Disclaimer: all characters and events in this story are purely fictional and used for entertainment purposes only. I’m certainly not as cool as the guy in the story. Thanks for reading.
I liked everything to have a plan. Everything in my life had a checklist, an order to it. I didn’t stray off the path, everything planned and accounted for. My parents perfect little school girl. Graduate college, become a lawyer,marry my high school sweet heart, raise kids. The American dream.
Of course, that would have been too easy.Just when i thought my life had been made up, fate, or my ex boyfriend, decided to shatter my plans like a broken mirror. He wanted “to do it on his own” he said. Unbelievable. Five years of my life and not a second thought. To say I was lost would be an understatement. So for the first time in my life, I did something out of the ordinary.
I put in for an immediate transfer at my law firm and would finish my internship abroad. My plane landed at Heathrow airport, London, England a week later. I figured if I was going to find a knight in shining armor, id better start from their beginnings. Chivalry was certainly dead in my neck of the woods.Having had my shoulder cried on from friends and their “boys” broken promises over the years, I decided I would not be a victim. I would survive this.
I arrived at my new residence, a small flat off of Hyde Park, across from Kensington Palace. A fitting place to find Prince Charming. A fellow American girl named Adrienne, or “A” as I nicknamed her was to be rooming with me. She was studying business at the Imperial college nearby. A mutual ballet friend of ours had suggested the rooming. I had begun dancing in ballet when I was three at my mothers behest. The stage was the one place I felt invincible, where I could truly be me. “To see me dance was to see through a window into my soul” my mother would say. Adrienne and I became fast friends, she was easy to talk to and the least judge mental person I had ever met.
We did everything together. From sunrise to sundown we took in all the sights London had to offer. Big Ben, the eye, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, all of it. Once, while viewing the Royal Golden Carriage, we overheard a little girl say in the sweetest voice ” mommy, what can’t I be a princess “. I loved Adrienne’s reply “I was just thinking the same thing” . We all laughed and bonded in that moment. Just four peasant girls, a speck in the universe. And we were happy.
The night life was never dull in London. We would go to the different pubs and local hangouts or even a club if we wanted to stretch our dance legs. One night we attended an exclusive club in Mayfair called Mahiki. After hours of dancing we took a trip to the restroom, where I nearly ran into a tall man, who upon looking down at me I realized was none other than his Highness, Prince Harry. He smiled an apology to which I replied with a scowl and walked passed him. Seconds later I realized what I had done and kicked myself throughout the night. Nice one, there went my shot at royalty.
The months flew by, the trips to stonehenge, Bath, all the places I had read about as a little girl. My internship and time here was coming to an end. I never found my knight, for whatever reason, they all seemed to be lacking the quality I was searching for, never the right fit. Sure I was a sucker for the English accent and smooth charm the London men seemed to possess, but something was missing. Lots of first dates and gifts, nothing worth keeping. It didn’t matter, I had found myself again. I wasn’t the same heart broken girl that had first stepped off the plane. As I hugged my best friend goodbye before my trip back to America, we both promised to keep in touch, to see each other soon. We would of course, sisters would find it hard to be as close as we had become.
Back in the states little had changed, it was the same repeat of Malls,McDonalds,Target, gas stations on every corner. American culture is shopping and eating with very little history to look at. I met my friend for lunch in L.A. where over the last year she had become quite the fashionista. She was interning for a high end clothing company. That weekend she was going to be attending an event in Las Vegas for her company. She asked if I wanted to join her, not having anything better to do, I agreed.
After checking in to our hotel, we headed to the mall where my friends brand was opening a store. The turn out was really good, tons of people had shown up to check out the ripped up jeans and faded tees. I was more of a Gucci girl myself, but was happy to show off the free clothes she had given me to rock around. After the event my friend pointed excitedly to a poster of two shirtless guys staring at each other. Apparently a there was to be a UFC event that evening. My friend had been a long time fan, often going to events and being able to name all the fighters. She said we have to get tickets. Not wanting to spoil her fun, I told her I would tag along.
We got to the fights early, my friend wanting to take pictures with all of the fighters and MMA names. It was all lost on me, I had never been into the violence or sweaty men rolling around. Take me to the theatre for a musical or broadway any day. She would rush excitedly back and forth in all directions to snap a shot with this guy or that guy, all the names went over my head. The show started we sat in the nosebleeds, watching the Big screen more than the actual cage, the result of the late notice tickets. I played with my phone most of the night, feigning excitement when my cousin said something. The main event came and went, finally, it was over.
We worked our way through the crowd, I was exhausted as was, my friend buzzing with excitement still. I spotted a Starbucks near the exit. My savior! While she was snapping photos I rushed to get in line. Ordering my usual, tall vanilla latte, I paid and waited on the other end of the counter. Scanning the crowd for my friend, I finally spotted her mid cheesy smile with a fighter who had fought in the event, his cuts freshly stitched. I chuckled at her enthusiasm, she loved this stuff.
I grabbed my latte off the counter and walked back to her. Noticing someone else, she walked towards a group of guys. She chatted them up, seeming to know one of them, a short stocky guy with blonde hair and lots of tattoos. Fighters everywhere! I scanned the group, my eyes stopped on one in particular.The first thing I noticed was his neck, it was so thick, like a bull. Then his ears, they were mangled like most of the guys around, a testament to the savagery of the sport. Cauliflower or something my friend had said. He had long dark hair, a square jaw, aquiline nose that looked to be unbroken, rare for his profession. He was built like most of the guys there, well muscled, but his chin made him look even more the superhero. A regular clark kent lookalike.I envied my cousins easy outgoingness. Not the type to put myself out there, ever since the break up, my confidence had been shot. I exhaled, finally. Sour Grapes. He was probably a meat head anyway.
After a few minutes my friend wandered back to where I had been waiting. I was exhausted. I had worn heels that night, my feet were aching. My hotel bed was calling my name. As we were walking towards the exit I asked, in the most nonchalant way I could muster, who the fighter that looked like superman was. “An up and comer, not exactly in the big time but on his way” she had said. “Oh, he’s cute”I told her. Just then the fighter with the shaved head walked up and invited us to the after party. I declined, I’m really tired but thank you I said. My friend, with her mischievous smile “I bet you superman will be there”. And so we hopped in a taxi and we were off to the club.
I spent the next hour looking around, dancing, throwing back a drink when I was asked. I’m a total light weight, after one I’m buzzing. I kept looking for him. Finally I spotted my friend, dancing with the shaved head fighter from earlier. Interesting. At least I was getting warmer. I walked up to them and asked him, cooly, or so I thought, about his friend he had been with earlier. “Oh him? He never goes to these things, hates partying. He went back to the room”. God dammit, I thought. Just my luck. “Hey, you guys want to come back to mine and hang for a bit?” Um, yeah! I thought. ” sure, I guess we could come by for a little bit”.
This is not how it’s supposed to work. My knight was at home in bed while I was coming to his rescue. If I wanted a fairy tale I would have to go get it apparently.
We took a cab back to his hotel. The ride over felt like an eternity. I was a little kid all over again asking are we there yet over and over. I practically leapt out of the taxi when we arrived. I had to tell myself to calm down. It was just a guy after all. An extremely, good looking, guy. You got this girl. Keep it together. The elevator arrived at their floor, I had to stop myself from rushing them. We tiptoed into the room, the lights were out. Then I saw him. He was half under the covers, one arm dangling over the side of the bed, a tattooed arm that I had not seen earlier. Suddenly the other guy jumped onto the bed and said “hey buddy! I got a present for ya!” He groaned as he awoke. Probably not the best way to wake up. Stretching, his eyes scanned the room, he got up, no shirt. ohmygodohmygod. What a view. i told myself id start hitting the dance room again next week. I averted my eyes, My blush must have painfully obvious. I sat on the coach, kicking my heels off, finally. He walked to the bathroom without a word. The two drunks started chatting away about the fights from earlier. I had little input, it was all Greek to me. He came out of the bathroom, toothbrush in hand, brushing away absent-mindedly. He asked his buddy how the night went. They talked enthusiastically, telling him all about the after party and how a fight had broken out between two famous fighters, I had been touching up my makeup, missing the whole thing. He excused himself and went back to the bathroom. Well hello to you too, I thought.
I heard the water running from the sink. I sat on the coach in the corner of the room. He came back out, walking towards the coach. Thumpthumpthump. Stop blushing! He extended his hand, ” sorry I didn’t catch your name, or do you not have one just a pretty face.” He laughed at his own line, I smiled, telling him my name.
He sat on the other end of the coach. Think of something to ask him, come on. ” so you fight huh “? Smooth. ” yeah I try, so far so good. And you, what do you do”? I told him about my internship in London and how I had just gotten back.that seemed to spark his interest, thank God he didn’t want to talk about fighting, it would have been a short conversation. He asked me all about my travels. Did I try fish and chips, did I meet any of the royalty etc. he was surprisingly easy to talk to, I found myself relaxing more. The flirty comments back and forth were fun too. Not a meat head at all. Touché.
My friend and his friend had passed out on opposite ends of the bed. It was getting late, i wasn’t ready for this to end. He asked if I wanted to sleep on the couch, that he would lay on the floor. How about on me I thought. “I think there is enough room for the both of us”. His eyes widened. Finally off guard superman? He smiled.
I lay next to him. He didn’t make any moves, leaving his arms by his side and facing toward the couch. Ugh. You can stop being a gentlemen now, I thought. Put your arms around me already. A few long, awkward minutes passed. Finally,he turned towards me. “Miss, I know we just met, but time is just a measurement and this is terribly uncomfortable. Do you mind cuddling,for comforts sake?” Duh. “Yeah that would be fine”he put his arm under my head, curled between his chest and bicep. His body was so hard, a job requiring I assume. Nice. I breathed in deeply. His smell was different, no cologne or axe like most guys seemed to bathe in. It was more of an earthy sweaty smell. I imagined this was how a man ought to smell. So intoxicating. I wondered if he could feel my heart racing. He ran his hand through my hair. Butterflies!? I was a teenager all over again. I looked up at him. His eyes were a dark green flecked with gold. Pretty. “I’m not complaining, but why’d you brush your teeth earlier”? He glanced down, a cocky smile on his face. “Thought I might kiss a girl later”. So sure of himself, it was infuriating and attractive all at once. Fine, fair game. “Then what are you waiting-” My eyes closed as his lips met mine. His lips were soft. I felt the room spinning all around me,the light headedness overcame me. His arms pulled me in tighter, crushing me to him. I felt his hand cup my cheek, the tingling sensation was intense. I was losing myself and I didn’t care. “Damn girl, damn girl, damn girl, damn girl damn”. Mfer!The ringtone on my phone going off. This was the first time in my life I wasn’t happy about Justin Timberlake. I scrambled off the coach, rummaging through my purse. I checked the caller ID. Mom! Of all times to check on me, now!?
I answered. “Hey mom can I call you back”? I looked over at him. He grinned. Great timing mom. “I love you too, I’ll call you in the morning”. I hung up. Just as I was about to lay back down, my friends voice interrupted with ” hey what time is it? Oh my God it’s so late, sorry I passed out. We better get going.” Nooooooooooo! This can’t be happening, after all I had gone through. I wasn’t ready to say goodnight. What if I didn’t see him again? What happens in Vegas really stays in Vegas?! He sat up now. A look of annoyance crossed his face. He looked over at the bed, his friend still passed out.I wanted to tell her to go ahead without me, but she was still tipsy, I couldn’t do that to her. After a few awkward minutes watching her gather her things, I stood up, he walked us to the door. Out in the hall now, I smiled halfheartedly and waved my hand. Disappointment etched all over his features. “So I’ll see you around” I said. Turning away I felt a firm grasp on my arm and he twirled me back into him. He stood a head taller than me. He looked down. ” Don’t get short with me miss”. Ha. ” I’d like to call you tomorrow, or is your phone just for your mom to check in on you”. That same cocky smile splayed across his face. I gave him my number. Walking, Floating, one hand carrying my heels, my feet would be gross, but I didn’t care.I thought of a cheesy pick up line I had heard a long time ago. I wanted to call my mom back now. She always told me to call home when I fell in love.
I’ve had some pretty bad nightmares in my time, we all have. Sometimes there is a monster, others we are falling. The one with the plane crash always scares me because I fly so much. But there is one that has haunted me so many night since march. It’s the one where I go into the cage after a perfect training camp, I feel great. Then suddenly after a little bouncing on my feet, my leg pops. I’ve torn my hamstring, but I’m there, I fight anyway. Two minutes later the agony of my leg is unbearable. They carry me out of the cage in a stretcher. I wake up, I feel the pain in my leg, I toss and turn a bit, it’s real, it happened. A deep sorrow and depression threaten to overcome me.
Weeks went by before I could walk normal again. It’s been months and I still can’t run. I sat on my couch for three weeks before I got up and did anything. I began to understand why samurais commit seppuku upon defeat, the shame of defeat is too much. No amount of sessions with my mental coach Scott Stevenson were going to pull me from this. Xbox and subsistence eating were all I did, I wanted to escape. Bad.
I received an email one day. Do you want to fight the Egyptian again in may? YES. I went to Bjj class with Prof Olavo that day, I’m terrible with a gi but it’s the only thing my leg could handle. I went everyday for weeks. It was all I could do between upper body workouts with Mark Mariani and woody at TFW(training for warriors). Anger and self loathing drive me where my body couldn’t, I didn’t want to be the person that had just lost. I couldn’t live a full life, I was a shell of my former self, no superman at all.
By the time the fight rolled around I was as ready as I could be. Sparring had gone well, with rob lesita and the leone bros, and giom and Olavo overseeing everything, giving advice where they could. My leg isnt healed, not even close. I couldn’t kick, explosive movements hurt. I’m sick with a chest cold, breathing is difficult. Doesn’t matter, either live in shame or die on your shield. The shield it was.
The day of the fight I was a nervous wreck. For those who have never fought professionally, it’s not the fight that scares us, it’s the unknown. We don’t mind getting hit, it’s in the back of our minds. Anxiety is powerful, the waiting saps our energy. Even the best fighters like GSP have pre fight jitters, it’s part of the sport, it’s what separates us from bar room fighters (that and a bit of training). The internal demons are strong, they attack all of your weaknesses at once. Doubt creeps in easily.
The warm up is good, I had veteran Ray Elbe (recently moved to Kuwait to teach Bjj at Kuwait Combat Athletics) in my corner. I’m glad he was there, his experience helped a ton. Blake Grice was the referee, an experienced ref from the states. This made me feel a lot better, the last fight saw me get soccer kicked on the ground with barely a warning for my opponent.
My opponent is confident now, having beat both Ray and me (both of us took the fights injured, hubris). He has a right to be. He doesn’t respect jiu jitsu.
The fight starts, gloves touch, I shoot right out of the gate, taking the fight to the cage. My nerves were running wild, I’m sure I look calm but inside I’m churning. I secure the takedown after various punches and a knee, landing in side control. After a few transitions I take my opponents back with ease, a testament to my months in the gi that I had previously neglected for Nogi training. I secured the gable grip choke (variation of the rear naked) and my opponent taps, I hold until Blake stops me, a habit picked up from opponents tapping and protesting/acting like they didn’t. Fight until the bell rings or the ref stops you is a good rule of thumb.
I do the normal pre fight interview except with the Kuwaiti flag draped over my shoulders (they make me feel more at home than the US, we aren’t a loyal people anymore ). Fights over, I’m the welterweight champion with a pretty new belt. My soul is cleansed, I don’t have a dark shadow that will haunt me for the rest of my days. My heart can be happy again. I can lift my head up. I owe my daughter lost time. I’ve neglected her these past few months, anger and shame drove me insane. It’s time to go to the beach and build her castles to destroy again. Good days are ahead. The sun is back, it’s time to smile again.
Thanks to all that put up with me and believed in me, I appreciate you all,will see you soon. Shukran.
Why do we fall down? So we learn to pick ourselves up again.
We read quotes, watch movies, see great feats that inspire us, but until we experience something that makes it apply to us, they are just words and moments in time. When the moment comes, quotes take on a whole new meaning.
Two weeks ago I was at the peak of my fitness level. I was reveling in my new found athleticism. Coming off my win in Bellator I was exultant. Few moments in my life will rival how I felt. Then in a routine stretching exercise, my left hamstring gave out, a tear that I felt from behind my knee up to my lower butt cheek. I was in agony, not able to walk for two days. I remember when I fell down, I prayed for whatever was out there to take me, I didn’t want to live anymore. Needless to say no one answered, Jesus/Allah/Buddha/themaninthesky was either too busy with orphans or they just don’t exist. Haven’t decided which, so I’m still here.
Imagine climbing to the top of a huge mountain. You fist pump the sky, leap for joy, then suddenly you slip on a banana peel and go tumbling back down. MFER! You are back down at the bottom. You look up, the top isn’t even visible anymore, the clouds obscuring view. That’s how I felt. Despair. Why didn’t the Alien creators beam me up?
Two weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I broke out the TRX, hooked it up to the door, and started climbing a different mountain. This one is taller. I have a long way to go. Today was my second day back, I got the ok to start Boxing. I can’t really pivot, my mobility at the moment is terrible. My head movement has always been garbage, I’ve relied on my square chin to absorb more punishment than my brain cares to remember. Time to remedy that. I’m learning how to pick myself up. This mountain is taller than the last one, with more risk and more prestige at the top. Thank you to all the people who believe in me. Your support means the world. Bigger thanks to those that don’t. You fuel the fire that drives me upwards.
“Guys, make sure when you hip escape you go all the way down the mat. There is no halfway in life, you go all the way to the end just as you started.” Wow, not three minutes into Mestre Olavo Abreu’s BJJ class and I’m blown away by philosophy. It’s interesting, I’ve been taught moves in all ranges of martial arts from Muay Thai to sambo, I’ve kept some and lost more, but the professors philosophy’s always seem to resonate, etched into the mind. I might not use a single move from the gi in my MMA career, but Prof. Olavos philosophy’s on life will carry me through this journey. Abrigado Mestre. Oss.
I’m returning home after a long weekend at the fights. Every fighter/coach/trainer knows what I’m talking about. Nothing is quite so draining as going to an mma event on the road. From the plane ride to the shady promoters(not all, but most, this weekend at ultimate beatdown was good ), it takes it’s toll on you. I hate to say it, but I think I’m done cornering, but I has nothing to do with what I just said.
A few weeks ago I had the honor to help OneFC star Adam Kayoom prepare for his fight against Gregor Gracie. It was a great, focused camp where we drilled smart and formulated a game plan that in the end worked to perfection and he won the fight. The game plan went so well that during camp he caught me with a knee that split my lip wife open. This is the part of MMA that I love, the preparation. The hardest part for a coach are the fifteen minutes watching and being able to do nothing as your friend/training partner/student tests his abilities against another. I compare it to a roller coaster, you know that it’s going to be a Thrill, but you’re never quite ready for the twists and flips that come with it. One second they are getting beat, the next they are coming from behind to steal the victory. I feel so drained after this, the victory is great, you lift the guy on your shoulders, but the cost on your nerves is ridiculous! I’ll gladly fight any day, but cornering, save that for the stronger hearted.
But I haven’t told you the part that sucks the most. A week ago a fighter asked me to corner him. This is a guy who hasn’t had the best of luck throughout his life, it’s not my story to tell, but from a fountain pen exploding on him at the airport to customs strip searching him in an office, things aren’t getting much better. I didn’t get a whole lot of time to work with him, a few training sessions, but knowing him well enough and seeing his opponent fight before, I had a pretty good game plan. Fight started off well, everything we had drilled in the locker room/ gogo dancer changing room ( yes they continued to change while we were in there without a though ) went well, we won the first round. Second and third didnt go so well, the almighty fate/poor cardio kicked in and that was that. A feeling of dejection and a very bruised face are all thats left to show from it. I hate this part. I hate seeing people lose.It’s not always like the movies, the good guy doesn’t finish first every time. So instead of having a roller coaster ride that ended with high fives, I got the roller coaster ride where someone smacks their face on the rail. Sucks! Not being able to do anything but try to say words of encouragement, terrible. Nothing you can say is going to change things, the time machine hasn’t been invented, it wasn’t a dream.
I can’t say I will never corner again, but this weekend put me awfully close. I’m much better suited to be a training partner/gym coach than a cornerman, I’m too weak for that, Its meant for stronger men. But on aug31st in Manila, you can bet your life that I’ll be in captain Americas corner as he battles a for victory against the legendary Gracie family. Carry on.