The AK fight blog series is a weekly journal from the MMAmania.com fan community featuring a behind the scenes look at "AK" as he prepares for his third professional fight on March 19, 2011. Click here if you missed Week 1.
Weeks remaining until fight night: Six
Current weight: 155 lbs.
Bout weight limit: 140 lbs.
Here we are, one week closer to my fight.
An outline of my week since my first blog:
Saturday: Day off. Went back home, spent some time with my family. Went to a friend's going-away party on Saturday evening and took some flack from my friends for not drinking at the party. Back to the apartment to watch a few episodes of "Psych" with the girlfriend then off to bed.
Sunday: Breakfast (plain yogurt and oatmeal), then off to the gym for cardio and weights. Bitter cold today, my car’s thermometer says it's 15-below zero while the dude on the radio with the cartoon voice says the wind chill makes it around 28-below. ND at its finest.
Get to the gym, and do the following:
3, 6-minute rounds of uphill running
15 minutes of hard running
Bench press: Very light weight, explosive sets.
Abs (hanging leg raises/full body curls, oblique crunches on a Swiss ball, etc.)
Dips & pull-ups
3, 5-minute rounds of shadowboxing
I go home and make an egg-white and turkey breast omelet for dinner. Tastes like air. I'm starting to crave junk food. Pizza would be delicious. Why do I do this whole "fighting" thing again? After dinner, I watch my last fight video a few times to try and pick up on the mistakes I made so I can work on them tomorrow in practice. Read some of Sun Tzu’s "The Art of War" and watch the GSP/BJ Penn UFC "Primetime."
This may sound odd but I like hearing how other fighters handle the weeks leading up to fights. Especially GSP: "I train in the fear that my opponent trains harder than I." My mindset exactly. "You don’t bring your wife to war…you bring an army." Eat a chicken breast and some cottage cheese, read some Robert Jordan and go to bed.
Monday: Ugh. Ever wake up and just know your day is gonna suck? That’s how I woke up on Monday. After a crappy night's sleep, due to a little disagreement with the little lady, I get up and have a breakfast of oatmeal and sliced apple. Different stress-causing events at my job aside, I go home (lunch was a turkey sammy on whole-grain bread with carrot sticks and green tea) and have a chicken breast and a handful of almonds washed down with water and a five-hour energy shot. Off to practice. If you can call what follows "practice."
Warm-ups are jumping jacks, swimming, 50 sit-ups, 50 wheel-barrow push-ups, 30 squats with a partner slung on our backs (fireman-carry style), 50 high-thai knees and 50 thai kicks (rear and switch) to our partners legs, head, and body. Then it's time for hand-wraps, shin pads and 16oz boxing gloves. We work some specific combinations with our partners, then it's time for five rounds of sparring.
I feel sluggish right off the bat. I pair up with the best thai boxing guy in my gym and off my first jab he counters with a stiff teep right to my bread basket. After that, I can't land much of anything during that round. The four that follow aren’t much better, sans a few real nice stiff jabs and leg kicks I land in the last round. I feel the frustration start to set in.
After the sparring rounds, its time to pickle me with takedowns. Two, three-minute rounds of me against a fresh partner every 30 seconds. This is not a very long drill, but I'm already pretty tired and it only gets worse. My takedown defense is off tonight, very off. I get taken down again and again and again. Frustration mounts. That article I wrote about "Inner Peace" is about as useful as a condom machine in a sperm bank, Gurgel’s black belt in an MMA fight or Paul Daley’s takedown defense. Take your pick.
After getting thoroughly disheartened during the takedown drills, it's time for some live BJJ rounds with strikes. Here I spend three, five-minute rounds on my back, unable to sweep, submit or mount anything resembling an offense. Granted, I’m rolling with a guy that would easily be a purple belt (if we had a belting system at my gym), but still, unacceptable and disgusting.
My coach pulls me aside and we work technique for defending the single-leg. I feel slightly better (but not much). I end the night taking out my frustration by ground and pounding the hell out of a heavy bag for a round.
I go home, shower and write this section of my blog while watching what I call "the weight-cutter’s porn", AKA, "Man vs Food" (God I want deep-dish pizza) while feeling a terrible ache in my shoulders and stinging in my feet from mat burn due to takedown drills. Also on my face and neck from velcro burn due to the MMA gloves during our ground and pound rounds. On a little better note, I see a recap of my last opponent's most recent fight and that dude is tough. I feel a little better for finishing that guy than I did before. He took a real beating and finished his opponent in the second round. I wonder if this is how real fighters feel after beating Chris Leben: Not the most technical guy, but a tough-as nails scrapper. Off to bed and I pray for a better day tomorrow.
Tuesday: Wake up aching all over. An old injury is kinda bothering me -- hoping that goes away soon. Breakfast is Special K Protein Plus and an apple, snack is an apple and some cottage cheese. Dinner is a turkey sandwich, some green tea and yogurt. Off to the gym and its 45 minutes of cardio at varying speeds but never faster than 75% of a sprint. I'm going for endurance and calorie burning today, not intense cardio. After running I do the following:
3 sets of 20 pull-ups
3 sets of 20 dips
150 calf presses of 185 lbs
3 sets of 12 dumbbell presses
50 body weight back presses
3 minutes of skydivers, 1 minute rounds
4 minutes of side planks, 2 minutes each side
3 sets of 15 rows on the rowing machine
3 5-minute rounds of shadowboxing
I felt kinda sluggish in the gym today. My body is adjusting to the lower calorie intake while still putting out a significant amount of work. Two more weeks and I’ll be used to it and I’ll feel better. My legs, back and shoulders constantly ache with a dull pain. The takedown drills yesterday kicked my ass.
I get home, make my post-workout protein shake and watch tape on my opponent. I’m starting to visualize how I want my fight to go more and more frequently throughout the day. How I’m going to move, how I’m going to react to his habits. What if he lands one of those haymakers he likes to throw?
I get back home and low and behold, UFC: "Silva vs. Irvin" is on Spike and I watch the fight between CB Dollaway and Jesse Taylor where Dolloway subs Taylor with the Peruvian necktie that fellow MMAmaniac ANS so graciously just broke down for us. I lay in bed, writing this blog and watching the UFC on Spike. Life cant get too much better. It's 11:21 p.m. and I'm going to bed.
Wednesday: Still pretty sore when I wake up so I’m battling with myself. Do I take a day off and recover? Can I afford to take a day off this close to fight time? If I take the day off, it is probably best for my body, but I’ll be angry with myself and feel lazy. If I don’t, I risk further inflaming my injury and that’s a big deal.
I decide to take the day off and still do some yoga in the evening. Kind of a best of both worlds thing. Eat breakfast, which is just two apples and banana since I’m running late for work. Dinner is another turkey sandwhich, some plain tuna on toast for an after work snack followed by my yoga routine and a protein shake for dinner. After yoga, the little lady comes over and we relax and watch some T.V. I guess I’m starting to get edgy and quiet, even though I don’t really notice it. She does though. She gets more nervous around fight time than I do, but she handles it really well. She doesn’t see me much during camp, but she understands. I get a massage and then go to bed early to try and help my sore muscles.
Side note: Don’t swallow any pills bigger than a quarter. I literally almost died alone in my apartment this morning after choking on the new fish oil I bought. Eff that suff -- I’m going back to the three pills a day brand instead of the one huge pill a day brand.
Thursday: Breakfast is Oatmeal with some banana sliced up into it just like mom used to make. Snack is a handful of almonds, dinner is a chicken breast and some carrots. After work, snack is a rice cake smeared with organic peanut butter. I watch Dana’s video blog on MMAmania.com and then I watch the countdown shows. As corny as it sounds, these shows are so inspiring to me, hence why I watched the GSP/Penn "Primetime" earlier this week. All these fighters were just like me at one point in time taking the small fights on the regional circuit for little money. No dietitians or strength and conditioning coaches, fumbling their way through their diets and weight cuts, wondering if their opponent is taking the fight as seriously as they are. Then it's off to practice.
Practice tonight went much better than Monday. Thank God! Warm-ups consisted of some shadowboxing, pad drills with a partner that incorporated setting up takedowns with strikes, fireman carry squats, then some light drill-sparring. What I mean by that is it's not live sparring, each person picks one combo and works that exact combo over and over for the entire round. Then it's time for four rounds of live sparring. I do much better tonight. I’m able to land the combos I want to land in my fight and my cardio feels better. Still not where I want it to be, obviously, but better.
After sparring, we drill some more butterfly guard sweep techniques. Then its pickle time again. Eight minutes of me on my back with a partner working ground strikes, rotating a fresh guy every 30 seconds. My job is to sweep, submit or stand up. These go ok, I didn’t get as many sweeps or subs as I wanted and I got clocked with a clean left hand that is sure to give me a shiner on my right eye, but I got dog-tired while maintaining my composure and constantly working, which is good. That only helps my cardio get better.
After the eight minute round, it’s a one minute break then five minutes of flow grappling with a partner. Two minute break after that, then three minutes of one my favorite things: Pitbull drill. This is when we put a heavy bag on the ground and my job is to maintain dominant position and work strikes on the ground while other people are constantly trying to push/pull/drag me off the bag, dragging the bag around the ground and sometimes all-out tackling me off the bag while I constantly claw my back to it and keep hitting. Much like a pitbull when it is attacking something -- nothing gets in its way. It latches on and doesn’t let go. One last round of rolling finishes off the night.
Friday: Today will be 3 5-minute rounds on the heavy bag, three 5-minute rounds of shadowboxing, three 5-minute rounds on the treadmill as fast as I can go, box jumps, medicine ball plyo push-ups, kettle bell swings, hanging full-body curls and some sprints. All packed in to about an hour and 15 minutes of a workout. Got some stuff I gotta do with the girlfriend's family. Tough to balance work, training and a social life, but hey, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mentally, I’m starting to get a little more nervous. I'm always apprehensive about fighting guys that are wild. Yes, they leave themselves open at times, but they also throw things from crazy angles that can be hard to defend. When you train to defend a technically-sound hook, your hand is in a different place than where a wildly-thrown hook would land. Sure, I can have my sparring partners throw crazy punches, but muscle memory is a tough thing to break. Plus, I hate losing anyway. There are no words to describe how I felt after my last loss. I felt like I let down so many people, like all my hard work had been for naught. I never want to feel that again. But I feel like this fight is mine to lose. If I do what I know I’m capable of, I’ll be more than fine.
Thanks for reading Maniacs and if any of you have any suggestions for me along the way, please don’t hesitate to throw them out. Especially for some healthy meal ideas. I’m getting pretty sick of what I’ve been eating. And of course, I highly encourage any questions you may want to ask.
Happy Friday, hope you all have a great weekend.