Its ALMOST Tiiiiiiiiiime!
The final stages of fight camp…and excitement is building
June 17, 2012
5 days prior to UFC on FX 4
I must start by apologizing, however slightly, for skipping my homework assignment (this very blog) last week. Between travel, training, and trying to visit with family during my short 36 hours in my hometown — I left the blog entry locked in my mind, and did not put pen to paper.
That said, I’ll have to double my efforts for this blog as I’ve got two weeks worth of training, travel, and news to share.
I spent the week of June 4th-9th in Las Vegas. It was my second week in Vegas, training out of Drysdale BJJ. And what a week it was!!! The previous week, I had the absolute pleasure of grinding through live grappling rounds with Mr. Forrest Griffin. My second week in Vegas was certainly not short on highlights, or the grind.
I FINALLY MET PHIL BARONI!!! Phil has been something of a mythical creature to me, as I could never really prove he existed. I’ve seen “photos” of an uber-muscled and square-jawed specimen (photo shop?). I’ve seen videos of this Baroni (graphic design, computer-generated?) knocking out opponents in early UFC tapes. And I’ve heard interviews with this NYBA character (New York-based comedian, playing off the popularity of MMA?). But I’d never been able to confirm he truly existed, until now.
Phil, coming off of a TKO loss just two days before, strolled into the gym on Monday morning. SERIOUSLY?!?!?!? Who does that? Broken nose, but apparently not a broken spirit. I finally had a chance to introduce myself, and truth be told — we got straight into work just moments later. Practice began, and Phil was on the mat fully participating…. He even went so far as to live grapple, with the simple restriction that we did not post on his face…
I can truly say, I was very impressed. The gym on Monday, after a fight; regardless of the fight result…. Many fighters would not even consider it. He showed up eager to learn, asking a few questions, and putting his body on the line to help others (like myself) who had bouts coming soon. What a professional.
Besides rubbing shoulders with Phil, literally and figuratively, I was able to pin down Robert Drysdale for a private lesson. What a treat, picking the brain of America’s finest BJJ practitioner. And as a budding MMA’er, he’s definitely been tinkering with thoughts/strategies/positions/flows that encompass the possibility of hitting and/or being hit whilst grounded. In one short hour, and only as a master and consummate host could, he filled my cup!
Whilst the rest of my Vegas trip would be deemed boring and uneventful, my training was full of highlights and golden nuggets. But I do have a return trip to Vegas planned, post-fight, for UFC 148. There will be a little training, but I’m hoping to make up for lost time in the way of true Vegas entertainment. Staying at the Riviera, on the strip, for two weeks — my only highlight was passing the legendary Gilbert Gottfried a few times. I saw very little of the rest of the city, and I hope to rectify that starting July 2!!!
Flying back from Vegas to Illinois, I was full of excitement. Knowing I’d soon see my partner, Alecia, for the first time in two weeks — always a bit of a giddy feeling. And knowing I was heading into my last hard week of training, same giddy feeling without the promise of kisses. But still a comfort that I can only describe as joyous!
I departed my hometown after a very short stay, and headed back to Fiore MMA in Springfield. Back to my roots, wrestling. Back to a coach that runs practices that have that old, familiar feel. Constant, steady work. Controlled pace, controlled movement, and hopefully a controlled partner (if technique and timing are coordinated in your favor). And back to one of my favorite training partners of the last two years, Australian Welterweight and Tiger Muay Thai Alum – Benny Alloway.
Being able to have the great resources (top coaching & abundant training partners) and amenities (fully equipped health club) that Fiore MMA provides; it was a perfect ending to a long training camp.
My weight has managed to drop quite naturally (I’m still hydrated), and I remained as healthy as one could expect. Departing Springfield with a quite confidence, spending another very short weekend in my hometown, I now find myself at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport awaiting my flight into Atlantic City.
The Revel awaits, a newly built billion-dollar superstructure. And a reunion with my Australian Striking Coach, Ed Bavelock, is imminent. A week of calm humor, slow grappling, and banging mitts!!! Oh, and cutting weight on Wednesday/Thursday!!! Woo Hoo. Amazing how the part I get paid for is actually the easy part. I’ve gotta run the gauntlet of challenges, with no promise of compensation and the real threat of losing my compensation should tragedy strike, before I can get into the Octagon…. One more big hurdle, that digital scale guarded by bikini-clad models and an obnoxiously energetic Burt Watson… Here I come!!!
Ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages; the show is about to begin! Media, public workouts, the meat-scale, and finally the Colosseum of Battle! Enjoy the show. And thank you for following my story throughout training camp.
I look forward to my next blog, telling of fight week’s excitement, bother (media much?), and pending fight result.
Signing off, for now….