After training for quite some time now, I have been accepted as a team member at Stars and Strikes (one of the top MMA gyms in Michigan), and I was invited to the fights that would be taking place in Jackson, Michigan. The fights would be promoted by the PCFL (Prison City Fight League). There would be 30 fights total, and five of my teammates would be competing that night. I’ve only been to one MMA event, and that was the UFC event that was held at the Palace of Auburn Hills (where the Detroit Pistons play), and I remember that night as being the most fun I had at a sporting event. This event however, was a MMA amateur event and I was excited to see my teammates compete.
It was a cold, brisk Saturday afternoon, and it was time to meet my team at the gym. At the gym, coach went over details for the fights and I chatted with some of the guys that would be fighting. It was a loose and fun environment in the gym, while we waited for the rest of the team to arrive—so we could start to head out to Jackson, Michigan. Upon leaving gym, our team has a tradition of having a team dinner before the fights. We decided on Chili’s, and it was a great time eating, laughing, and talking with everyone. After we ate, it was time to head out—and I rode with four of my teammates (two of them would be fighting), and we talked the whole ride, and even jammed out to the latest Eminem album.
The event would be held at Raks Sports bar in Jackson, Michigan. Pulling up to the place, it reminded me of one of the scenes in the movie X-Men, where Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) enters a similar bar, and fights in a cage. Entering the bar, there were throngs of people—and in the center of it all, the octagon (or cage if you prefer that term better). Sitting with some of my teammates was a great thrill and finally: it was time! When you watch 30 fights, it can be both exciting and a little daunting at times. Right away, I could discern who should be fighting, and who shouldn’t. Some fighters would just go all out, and either get beat up pretty badly, or submitted (making a person tap with a choke, hold, or lock). Other fighters were really technical, and you could tell they had a strategy, and executed with great skill. Another thing I picked up on was which fighters were just happy to be in the cage, and other fighters that were there to win. Being at a MMA event is truly unique. You get all kinds of people with different personalities, and people who are genuinely interested in the sport. Some are cheering their favorite fighters on, and others are screaming and shouting at the top of their lungs.
Watching my teammates compete was exciting to me, because I train with them, learn from them, and have forged a bond with them. Every single one of my teammates was very composed in the cage, and all were very technical, and not throwing wild punches or kicks. Getting to see that in person just fueled my fire to want to train harder, and get better physically and mentally. The co-main event had one of our top amateur fighters, and it would be his last amateur fight, in which he would be defending his belt at the amateur level for one last time. His opponent was absolutely absurd, and as soon as he arrived to the event—he showed up with all his belts around his waist and neck (it was truly a ridiculous sight to see). Also, I heard that he was bad mouthing my teammate the week leading up to the fight. Well, as they say, “karma is a bitch,” and indeed it was for the opposing fighter. My teammate dominated the other fighter for four straight rounds, and before the fifth and final round, his team threw in the towel. Raising his hands once again, my teammate was victorious once again. Our team erupted in celebration, and it was a great feeling to be a part of something special.
Riding back home was such a blast, and talks about the fights ensued—followed by joking around and plenty of laughter. When I got home, I didn’t want to go to sleep (my adrenaline was still going even though I didn’t fight), and played back the night in my head before I went to sleep.
Call me crazy, but watching the fights and training for a while now, I definitely got the itch to compete. Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying I’m quite ready to step in the cage (yet), but I’m getting there. Returning to training the following Monday, coach announced that he expects five to six beginning fighters from our gym to compete in the March event. A spark went off in my head, and I felt like he was talking directly to me. So after training, I went up to coach and told him that I’m definitely interested in competing, and although I knew I wouldn’t be ready to fight in March, I was dead set on setting an attainable goal—and going after it. Coach smiled and told me that usually when guys stick around for two months (like me) they’re hooked, and want to compete. He also told me that I was improving greatly, and in six months time, I should be ready to go. It felt really good hearing that from my coach, and I’m not gonna lie: I’m a very competitive person, so I know that I have my work cut out for me, but you know what? I like it, and I love stepping into the gym everyday, and improving my skill set and most of all: learning anything and everything that I can. For me, I love the journey of trying to achieve a goal I’ve set for myself. Time will tell, but one thing is for sure—I’m gonna have a blast along the way.