A few weeks back (Sat., December 5, 2015), I competed in my third amateur fight for Hoplite Fight Productions in Merced, California.
Back in early September, my teammate, Andrew "Bulldog" Coyne, and I were both looking to have our third amateur fight around October/November. Since I'm a firm believer that Coyne and I are actually the same person -- both 19 years old, same first name, "Bulldog" and "Roaddog" nicknames, Team Alpha Male members, same record, same finishing ratio, two of our three fights are on the same date, blah blah blah -- I'll be covering his fight as well.
Within a day of looking, we were told that both of us were locked in on this card. Since we knew the weigh-ins would be on the same day as the fight, "Bulldog" and I were both looking to fight at a weight class above usual, at 145 and 135 lbs. respectively.
Naturally, there's no such thing as an amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) event without nonsense. After being told that we were both locked into the card in September, neither of us had an opponent booked after two months of waiting around.
Then, with about three weeks remaining until the event, we were both matched up with people at the correct weight class. Wonderful. However, both of those opponents fell out with about ten days remaining, and from here our paths differ a bit.
For "Bulldog," things became questionable pretty quickly. His opponent was replaced, the new guy dropped out, and he received a new opponent with about a week remaining. However, the fight was now listed at LIGHTWEIGHT -- two full weight classes above usual for him -- and Coyne immediately let them know that was a problem.
The promotion replied that his opponent would cut down to 145... despite same day weigh-ins... despite fighting at 155 just a month earlier... and despite having a week's notice to make that change.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened next. At weigh-in day, "Bulldog" predictably weighed in at 145 lbs., because he's a professional. His opponent, meanwhile, missed weight by 9 pounds. Our coaches agreed that taking the fight would be stupid -- or in our boxing coach Joey Rodriguez's words, "f*ck him, f*ck them" -- so he declined it.
Luckily, another fighter who weighed 141 lbs. lost an opponent due to injury. So, with about five hours until fight time, my boy found out that he did in fact have an opponent, though we'd never heard of him.
Things were a bit different -- though similarly dumb -- for myself. Like "Bulldog," my original opponent dropped out, my replacement opponent was switched to a different match up, and I found myself on the phone with someone from the promotion six days before fight day.
In short, they had found me an opponent, but he was "a small Bantamweight." I fought at Flyweight six months ago, so he did not have my sympathy. They asked me for a catchweight, which I declined. Thanksgiving was literally three days prior to this phone call, and I asked three months earlier for a fight at Bantamweight specifically to avoid cutting water weight.
Next, I was asked to make 133 lbs. I was walking around at about 138-140 with six days to cut, so I told them I'd do what I could. As it turned out, I made it down to 135 with a couple days remaining, so I was confident that I could continue to diet down to 133 without issue.
Just a bit of added misery, but that's life.
And, that was the case, as I woke up at 133 on Saturday. A couple hours later when I arrived in Merced for the weigh-ins, I checked myself at 132.5 on their scale. Considering that I was asked to make 133 and was listed as a Bantamweight, I could've drank some water or eaten something small then, but I had a gut feeling -- undoubtedly influenced by Coyne's predictable weigh-in fiasco -- to stay light as possible.
Smart decision, as it would turn out. My opponent showed, and his camp essentially demanded that I make 132 even. I was annoyed, but since CAMO took another 90 minutes to sort out the paper work and get the official weigh-ins going, all I had to do was hang around and wait without eating.
It's pretty obvious what happened here in both cases, and I was fairly certain of it from the beginning. Basically, all the fighters involved were told different things. I'm sure my opponent was told that I would weigh in at 130 or something similar. As for Coyne's Lightweight opponent, I expect they told him to try to get down under 150, although he missed that mark clearly as well.
All I know for sure is that we both showed up under the weight that our bout was officially listed at, because that's our job.
It's annoying but not uncommon. Walking away from a fight the day of is difficult even if the circumstances are ridiculous, and promotions know this. That's why these sorts of shenanigans are revealed on the day of the event, rather than a week earlier.
In the end, it worked out, and we both had fights. Let's skip past all the nonsense and move on to the actual fights.
I was the second fight of the card, which was just fine to me. I hate all the waiting around that accompanies the fight game, so I'm happy to fight earlier rather than later. Plus, our collective game plan for these fights was to make the long trip to Merced, win in quick fashion, then get the hell back home.
More indisputable evidence that "Bulldog" and I are the same person. These two individual snaps -- which are exactly the same -- were not planned.
Warming up for the fight, I hit some mitts with Coach Joey and ran through some grappling drills with my other cornerman, jiu-jitsu black belt Felipe Bragiao, using "Bulldog" as my dummy.
The first fight came and went, and it was soon my turn to walk out. Under the smooth production of California's loop digger, Madlib, and heavy rhymes of Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs, I walked down to the cage. After hugging my cornerman, I stepped through the gate, feeling calm and confident. Actually, I prefer the description of MMAmania regular kg12, who drove a couple hours to see my fight in person.
"He looks ready to eat nails and I predict he wins via sub round one!"
11 points for the former Mania Money Pool champion.
This one didn't last long. I went in with some goals to utilize my striking a bit, but most of me knew that I would finish this on the mat. While I have plenty of skills that I worked very hard to grow that have yet to be displayed, it's easiest to go with what I know best.
So until someone can stop it, I'll just keep showing off my jiu-jitsu.
Check it out.
I met my opponent in the center of the cage, and he opened the fight with a right hand that came up quite short. I stepped forward and fired off a 1-2, and the right hand landed clean. He attempted to counter with another punch that came up short, and threw a kick to the body.
My instinctive reaction was to catch his kick, which was thrown from too close and thus didn't have much behind it. He tried to latch onto my head in a guillotine position, but my posture was still strong, and I was in no danger.
Finding myself in a position to score a takedown, I wasn't going to abandon it. I moved from the leg into a body lock, which completely negated any threat of the choke. He hung onto my neck though, which made it easy for me to force him to the mat.
When we landed, I was in side control, but it was still a slightly dangerous position. Though my shrugged shoulders and tight clinch kept all the pressure off my neck, being in side control on the same side of the guillotine can become a problem quickly.
Before he could adjust his grip, I stepped into mount and quickly freed my head. He held onto my waist tightly and tried to explode and roll me over twice. I expected this and kept my hips low, but I noticed his head was coming off the mat towards my ribs as he bumped.
The third time he tried to buck me off, I gave him enough space to sit up a bit. That allowed me to slip my arm around his neck, and I could tell my arm was in deep. Since he was sort of siting straight up, I could try to flatten him back out or roll into guard.
Though it was a risk, I felt in complete control on the ground and sat into guard, using the sit through as an opportunity to sink my choke in even deeper for the high-elbow guillotine. I kept my guard open on the side of the choke, hooking his back with the other leg and preventing him from escaping to the correct side. With this style of guillotine, he can only circle deeper into the choke or roll back into the mount and try to scramble.
Despite having my elbow deep in the choke, I was sliding off a bit. To adjust, I shrugged my shoulder up higher, trying to get my shoulder on the back of his head. It got a bit tighter the first time I adjusted, which also let me know that I could sprawl out and regain top position if I wanted. Instead, I climbed up with my shoulder a second time.
Now that the choke was deep and his head wasn't in danger of slipping out, I knew I had it locked in. We were in an odd position -- I think he tried to roll against my hooked leg and got stuck at an awkward angle -- so I hadn't fully committed to squeezing yet.
Luckily, the constant pressure throughout the adjustment was enough to finish the choke anyway. The tap actually surprised me, because I really hadn't tried to finish the choke just yet.
Either way, it only took 44 seconds.
It was great to win quickly and without taking any shots, but "Bulldog" was just few fights down the line, so I talked with my friends and family in the crowd before making my way back to the locker room again.
He warmed up in similar fashion to me -- this time I was the dummy to be lifted like a sack of potatoes during takedown drills -- and then I followed him to the cage for his walkout. As he got greased up, I found an empty seat in the front row right behind his corner, where I could yell advice without much difficulty.
I won't go into much into detail with this one, as I wasn't actually in the cage.
Coyne's fight went the full three rounds/six minutes, and he dominated each portion of the fight. We knew that his opponent would swing wide and with power -- he finished his first opponent with a particularly brutal knockout -- so the plan was to work from distance and land takedowns when possible.
"Bulldog" performed both aspects admirably, scoring with some nice kicks in each round. In the first, he set up a strong double leg takedown, and his opponent didn't really try to sprawl. Instead, he widened his legs a bit and tried to throw punches to the body.
From that point on, I knew the takedown would be there whenever Coyne needed it, and that turned out to be accurate.
On top, "Bulldog" had no trouble passing guard and repeatedly threatened with submissions. Though he came close with both the triangle choke and arm bar numerous times, his opponent managed to gut out some tough spots. The two minute rounds made things more difficult, as it forced "Bulldog" to work quickly and try to jump on the finish.
Regardless, it was a dominant win, the second of the night for Team Alpha Male. Neither of us took any real damage, nor were we ever in any danger. Furthermore, we lived up to the usual tradition of Krispy Kreme and In-N-Out burger after getting back to Sacramento. I also dug into my stock of vanilla fudge dipped Oreos -- which are both seasonal and delicious (PIC) -- to celebrate our success.
Following this win, I plan to have one more amateur fight in the first few months of 2016. For that fight, I either want it to take place in Sacramento or be for a regional title. Afterwards, I plan to take some time to train and improve, then I want to make my professional debut near the end of 2016.
Some people will think that's all a bit quick, but I disagree. I turn 20 in a couple weeks, and many people believe that time is on my side.
That's not how I see it.
Both flyweight and bantamweight are generally young men's division. On average, fighters have 10 years of full time training and fighting before wear begins to take its toll. There are, of course, exceptions -- look at members of my team for examples, as a healthy life style can help extend a fighter's career -- but planning to be an exception is a bad idea.
With that in mind, I'm effectively one year into the aforementioned ten. My prime is most likely five or six years off, but that means I need to already be in good position at 25/26. Basically, the goal is to already be successful and established when I hit my prime, as that's my best window to go on a run and accomplish something great.
Until next time...