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.
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.
Here’s what I want you to do, close your eyes and imagine the 1950′s. Think of the malt shops and diners from back then. The fresh, hormone free, greasy, amazing hamburgers and milk shakes that cost 25cents and actually made you full. That was the time to grow up, when men were men, dirty hands and strong backs. Now a days you can’t find that very often, its all about profit margins; in order to maximize profits you have to bring quality down. The mom and pop shops of our parents time, they are gone. My old man told me McDonalds used to be good back then, hard to believe it when today you can’t even be sure what the “meat” really is. I would have loved to have seen it.
My old man and I used to visit my uncle Brad in Lakewood California, a quiet community that has a very retro feel, all the homes are from the fifties, streets are real narrow, you can imagine kids playing stickball in better times. Around the corner from my uncles place was a restaurant called the Heritage cafe, just like the rest of the neighborhood, it was a throwback to a better time. The food was all the home cooked stuff our parents talked about, fresh everything and gigantically portioned. For ten dollars I could eat three meals. I’d order the breakfast burrito that comes with two “sides”, what an understatement. The sides were full plates of biscuits and gravy, a Loaf of cinnabon, a full stack of pancakes, etc basically a side meant a whole other meal.the place had a line that wrapped around the block, on the weekend, forget about it! Needless to say when I was in Lakewood, I was eating at the heritage. But just like any good thing, things went down hill. Owners sold, prices went up, quantity went down, quality started dwindling. The lines aren’t a mile long anymore, the food isn’t the same. I haven’t been there in years. I like to remember the good conversations with my uncle that I had over a gigantic sized burger, the one that would feed me for lunch the next day as well.
My parents were lucky. Yes they had to walk ten miles to school, one way through snow the other way through a scorching desert. But man what a time to live, chuck Taylors and jeans, plain white Tshirt with ray bans. None of this queer skinny Jean sagging down to your ankles stuff. Perez Hilton would have gotten beat up. Kim kardashian would just be another dumb whore, not the sex icon she is today. Beaver cleaver and his wholesome family. We wonder why old people are always so grumpy and calling us young punks? It’s because we let our neighborhoods be bought up, the places they used to love now sell garbage compared to what they had in their day.
I feel sorry for us. We live in a world where we work so hard for very little. Pride in our jobs are gone, whether you work at a gym that caters to dollars instead of results ;) or a restaurant that slaps ingredients together and calls it gourmet. Quality over quantity used to be a common thing, now it’s few and far between. Have you listened to our music lately? Smack that ass all on the floor smack that ass give me some more? I don’t like where we are as a society, we’ve lost touch with what is important in life. I miss the heritage. Carry on.
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.
Sometimes I sit and think about what I do and ask myself “Is what I do for a living acceptable”. If I had a son and he told me he wanted to fight, I would try my hardest to talk him out of it. Sign up for jiu jitsu/westling/figure skating, anything but what I do. Yes people fight, it’s in our nature. Since the beginning of time people have been rattling each others brains with fists, feet and elbows. Yes my sport has lots of comradery in it, honor, respect are all part of being a mixed martial artist. At the gym we spar, grapple, punch, submit eachother, then smile and slap hands/ass afterwards. It’s this time that I truly enjoy, the group minded pursuit of getting better and better, pushing each other toward greatness. Training partners can be closer than family, only in the gym do you share blood sweat tears, the thrill of success and the anguish of defeat. We become brothers, like old war veterans that just one look is all that’s needed for complete understanding.
But every ying needs a yang, the darker side. We inevitably fight, producing the one glorious winner and one dejected loser. It’s not like a team sport where you can cry on each others shoulder/ point fingers at the guy that missed the game winning shot. You’re out there alone, the wrong end of a punch/kick, the submitted, the down trodden. I’ve never found more lonely a place than that of the four out of twenty one times I’ve fought. You let the people down around you, without anyone or thing to blame. The thrill of victory is what keeps us coming back for more. We can’t help ourselves, we gladly risk all To chase that intoxicating high that we feel, the exultation of victory. We put our bodies through the torturous training camp, isolating ourselves in our drive. Starvation, dehydration, depression, a lot more ion’s, it’s a rough life that we accept, in moments of clarity we sometimes see that we truly are insane, the drug addicted high chasers.
Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and my brethren who are chasing the dream. Is the reward worth the risk and Life wasted? I don’t know. The lucid part of me says hey man, you can live healthy without the brain damage, eat clean and exercise, get regular check ups, you don’t need this sport or it’s vanity. But when has right mindedness ever prevailed with man? It’s our base desires that win. Lust,hunger,Carnage. The beast will always go to what it desires most.
Am I saying mma/fighting is terrible? No, true beauty comes from it. If the world were made up of nuns and priests, there would be no need for bravery or compassion. A true paradox I find myself in. I’ll continue doing what I do because it is what I know, it is what drives me, it’s what I have been in this life and probably in lifetimes passed. Someday I’ll hang up my gloves and my cape, probably looking back on a lifetime of highs and regrets. But for now, I have to join forces with Capt. America to save the planet from injustice, posers, mcdojos, and flabby stomachs. Carry on.
After a ridiculous week of training, I am exhausted. I’m pushing extra hard so I can do a muay Thai fight mid july and possibly get on an MMA card later in the month. So after a few hours at the beach, I decided to take Juliet to the movies today. The cinemas in Thailand are amazing, not only are they crazy cheap, but for about the same cost of one ticket in the US, you can get a VIP couch. Duh. Anyway so after tearing up a little during the kings intro movie ( the king is legit, no Obama here ) and a couple trips to the bathroom ( her, not me ) we crashed out. Thinking for cheat day I’m going to hit up the pizza company (pizza hut) and destroy a pie by my self.
Today will be the first time I was in Phuket and missed a Tmt BBQ. It feels funny because I put so much time into that place, but it’s time to move on. I’ll always remember the good times, the people that made it great, but now that the magic is gone, it’s walls are no place for me. Onward and upward. Lessons learned.
July 7th will be the start of a new tradition for me. Phuket top team will be hosting pro and amateur fights. Nothing better than a rebound after a break up. The new guys have that twinkle in their eye still, the passion for the sport that is invigorating. Money isn’t the goal, it’s the love of the game. Anyway, I’m going to enjoy my day off, another hard week ahead of me. I’ll see you gents on 7th. Carry on :)