A Summer of MMA
In the last few years, there has been this wave of men and women who want to become mma fighters with the romanticized thoughts of what fighting is and that they would be able to step into the cage immediately and eventually go pro. What they don’t realize is there is a lot more that goes into it than taking a few classes and some sparring. In addition the odds of making it as a pro are the same odds of getting into any professional sport.
In the end of April of 2013, a high school teammate of mine contacted me out of the blue. He remembered how much I loved MMA in high school and talked about competing one day and if I still had the passion and wanted to take a fight in June. Of course I jumped at the chance for this opportunity and committed myself 100% from then on out towards the fight. I immediately gave up drinking(keep in mind I just turned 21 in march) and focused only on my studies and the gym. I knew I had to be in the best shape of my life for this fight.
As soon as I got home from school, I immediately started looking for a job that would allow time to train and ended up landing a Warehouse gig. It was the typical 9-5 and no weekends making it easy to work around. At the point I started training, I was working a manual labor job 40 hours a week, going to train an extra 4-5 hours after work for 5 days a week and slept. That was it…. that was my whole entire summer. I gave up everything for 4 months; hanging out with friends, parties, and family events. Spending time with my team, training, and working replaced all of those.
Going into my first fight I had about a month of boxing experience. Basically just learned how to protect my face. The only confidence I had was my 11 years of wrestling experience and being stronger than my opponent. This did not keep me from getting messed up in my first fight.
I underestimated my opponent, definitely lost more rounds than I won, and got lucky. He made a crucial mistake and I ended up slamming him unconscious (still one of the most badass things I’ve done in life).
I still show people pictures after the fight and it was not pretty.
I must have gotten punched at least 20-40 times in the face in the matter of 9 mins (2-4 punches per minute for those who are counting). I didn’t win the way I wanted to, but wrestling has taught me that it doesn’t matter how ugly or surprising the win was, enjoy it and go back to the drawing board after.
My second fight is something that I’ll admit was due to my ignorance and youth. A month and half later I took my second fight. My opponent never showed to weigh-ins and no showed the day of the fight. For those not familiar with amateur MMA, this is a frequent problem at this level in the sport and no way to regulate it yet. Fortunately/unfortunately another guy’s opponent didn’t show and I was asked if I wanted a fight on a 10 minute notice. I should have said no, but I put some much work to improve in that last 40 days, I went in with something to prove. To take a fight on a week’s notice against a new opponent is hard enough. All the planning and preparation you did has to be forgotten and you have to go in with a loose game plan and basically blind to what your opponent will do.
(skip to 4:55 for the actual fight)
The final result, me getting tko’d via uppercuts because I expected kicks. I didn’t stick to my wrestling and had some piss poor takedown attempts that make me cringe every time I watch it.
I’ve been asked a few times since, ” When are you fighting again?” and “Why don’t you fight again?”. I never really had a real answer for these, only excuses at the time. I guess the actual reason I don’t fight anymore is because I don’t have the time that I think I should to put into training. I would need that kind of freedom I had that summer, but stretched over 2-3 years and would require more sacrifices than I’m willing to make at this point in my life. Keep in mind I also have a decade of wrestling and still think I need this much time to train.
If given the chance, I would do it all over again and maybe train even harder than I did in those 3 months. This will still always be one of my greatest accomplishments and favorite memories.
If you are truly passionate about mma and want to take a fight you need to ask yourself a few things;
- Am I willing to put myself 100% into this for the next 2-5 years just to take one fight?
- Can I deal with the sacrifices that may result in the loss of friends, significant other, and a social life outside of your team?
- Am I willing to check my ego at the door and fight clear of mind and make intelligent decisions?
- Do I have a team that I trust 100% to get me to where I need to be and make the hard choices for me?
- Can you put months of effort in to get beat in 30 seconds and mentally come back from it?
If you have to think twice about any of these, you may want to reconsider this as a profession and keep it just as a passion.