Fighitng & Rescuing: Dustin “The Bunny Whisperer” Babler

www.michiganrabbitrescue.org
http://www.michiganrabbitrescue.org

 

My friend/teammate and Michigan based MMA fighter, Dustin Babler, is fighting this October 17th, in Jackson, MI for PCFL (Prison City Fight League). Aside from competing, Dustin rescues bunnies and takes care of them. For his upcoming fight, Dustin has teamed up with Michigan Rabbit Rescue, and all T-shirts and hoodies profits will be going straight to the Michigan Rabbit Rescue. Dustin is a great guy and has a big heart when it comes to helping out bunnies. Check out and support in any way that you can. Below are the links to where you can purchase a shirt or hoodie.

teespring.com

 

Undisputed: Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey

 

After beating Bethe Correia last night with an impressive 34 second KO, Ronda Rousey has solidified herself as one of the best mixed martial artists in the world. Twelve opponents have entered the octagon against Rousey, and twelve opponents have exited the octagon with a loss on their record. Rousey is just on a different level right now. Mentally and physically, Ronda is head and shoulders above the competition. Few people on this earth know what it is like to be a champion, and even fewer know how to even begin to come one. Ronda Rousey was born to be a champion, and she has proven this each and every single time that she enters the cage. Since starting out as a pure grappler (due to her judo background), Rousey has blossomed into a pure fighter, and has developed lighting fast hands in recent years. One would tend to think that Rousey has reached the pinnacle of her fighting career, but that is not the case. Rousey has only begun to enter the prime of her career, and she will only continue to get better each time she steps into the octagon.

Ronda Rousey

 

Who’s next for Ronda Rousey? Most people would say Cyborg, but if that fight ends up happening, Rousey will most likely dispose of her rather quickly. Right now is an exciting time for Rousey, and a really bad time for her opponents. Rousey’s dominance is equal to a young Mike Tyson: fast, powerful, and focused beyond belief. It will take a special athlete to dethrone Ronda from the throne, and if that day ever comes–it will truly be a memorable moment. But for the time being, Rousey is atop the MMA world, and we should all enjoy watching her dominate the women’s bantamweight division. With her mental toughness and physical prowess, Ronda Rousey will continue to thrive and improve upon her skill set for years to come, and that is bad news for her upcoming opponents.

Why Do We Fall?

Don't be afraid to fail

 

Six months ago I stepped into an MMA gym (Stars and Strikes) wanting to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. With no prior experience in any martial art, I was intimidated at first but everyone at my gym was very helpful (especially my coach) in teaching me and giving me great advice. My first week was tough (very tough) in the fact that I thought that I was in great shape until I started doing the workouts, sparring, and grappling. It’s an extreme, grueling process that will push you mentally and physically. Even learning the moves and techniques was an exhausting practice, but very rewarding once class was over. Upon leaving the gym, I felt a sense of accomplishment and purpose. After a month of solid training, I was hooked and looked forward to learning anything that I could. Aside from training at the gym, I was making new friends and forming a bond with the other guys/girls at the gym. Going to my MMA gym is like going to a family members house; everyone takes care of one another, and we treat each other with the utmost respect. While I was having a great time training at my MMA gym, I had to deal with criticism as to why I was training and at first I was puzzled by the criticism, but then I came to realize that there’s not a lot of people who train in MMA in today’s society. Most of the criticism about MMA comes from simply not being educated on the sport, and once I explained the sport to people—they came to realize that it’s a sport that requires commitment, dedication, and the willingness to improve each day.

 

With each passing day that I was going to the gym, I realized something: my teammates are really good (scary good) at competing and ultimately, winning many titles and awards that go up on our gym wall. I first got a sense of the MMA world back in January, and watched my teammates compete in an amateur MMA league titled PCFL (Prison City Fight League) in Jackson, MI (hence the prison city reference). Watching them compete was an incredible experience, and I could not believe that the guys I was watching—was the same group of guys that I train with on a daily basis. Each show that came up, I was sure to be there and root my teammates on. Then after about the four-month mark of training at the gym, I had a thought: I want to compete.

 

Aside from MMA, my gym also competes in amateur kickboxing shows. I felt that it would be a great way for me to start out, and to see if I could compete in such a pressurized environment. Now I just had to talk to my coach and teammates about it.

 

“Absolutely! I think kickboxing would be a good start for you,” said my coach after telling him that I wanted to compete in the upcoming amateur kickboxing show. That part was out-of-the-way, but the hard part would be getting a match up. Almost a month had passed by since I put my name in to compete, and I was losing hope that I would not be able to get a match up. Coming into the gym one evening—my coach had great news: he had found a match up for me. I didn’t know much about my opponent (other than the fact that he had been knocked out in 12 seconds in an MMA match). My immediate feeling was a sense of relief, but that quickly went away when my coach smiled and said, “you’re getting shark tanked soon.” For those who don’t know: a shark tank consists of you sparring against a number of “fresh guys” for 8 minutes long, and no rest at all. A shark tank is supposed to get you to your breaking point (mentally and physically), and to see what you’re made out of.

 

It was a Thursday night, and as I entered the gym—I felt anxious, nervous, and scared. The time had come for me to get shark tanked. Exhausted, broken, and tired were the exact diagnosis of how I was feeling during the shark tank. Getting hit repeatedly, trying to breathe, and movement seemed like an endless carousel that I was on. Once time was called out, I was drained and had nothing left to give. Going through the shark tank was one of the hardest things that I have ever endured in my life. I learned a lot about myself during the process, and I’ll never forget that night. As if the shark tank was not hard enough, I had a harder task to go through: weight cutting.

 

Weight cutting is an integral process in combat sports. The point of weight cutting is to get down in weight, and on fight night be at your everyday weight. For example: my everyday weight is around 164-165 lbs. My fight was scheduled for 150 lbs., so in theory—I would be 14 pounds heavier on fight night, which would (hopefully) give me a strength advantage and overall performance advantage. It would be my first weight cut, and it was hard; extremely hard. I stuck to a strict diet/regimen and not going over 50 grams of carbohydrates in a day was tough. The process was grueling and as weigh-in day approached, I was desperately trying to hold on. On weigh-in day, I had no food and water for the whole day (weigh-ins were scheduled for 7 p.m.), and throughout the day, I could actually feel my heart beating slowly. Stepping on the scale, I was praying that I was exactly 150 lbs. and when the final numbers came out: I weighed 148 lbs. and I was relieved, and could not wait to start hydrating and eating (normally) once again. But before I could do those two things, I had to face-off with my opponent. Finally, after training hard for this fight—I got a good look at my opponent. He was quiet, and didn’t say anything to me but just nodded when I told him good luck on our fight.  After weigh-ins my coach and teammates headed out to Starbucks and let me tell you: drinking coffee and feeling go down my throat was exhilarating. I know you’re probably laughing at that statement, but try to deprive yourself of your favorite foods/drinks, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

 

Fight day had finally arrived, and it was definitely an interesting and exciting buildup for me. My mind was racing with all kinds of scenarios and situations that I was imagining for my upcoming fight. Arriving at the venue, my nerves started to sink in for me. Checking in and after clearing medical checkup, all that was left to do was to wait for my fight. Being in the back room was nerve-wracking, and just knowing that my turn was coming—was a crippling feeling to me. It all felt surreal to me that I was about to fight. Putting on my fight trunks, having my teammates support me, and my coach trying to calm me down was an experience that I will hold on to forever.

 

The time had come. It was time for me to fight, and it was all becoming a fast reality for me. With Metallica blaring through the venue, I walked out with my team. Stopping at the front of the cage, my team had a gathering and everyone was giving me encouragement for my upcoming battle. Then they left to their seats, and leaving me alone to face the toughest challenge of my entire life. Stepping up to the cage and hearing it close, I felt a sense of calmness that came over me. That sense quickly faded when I stared across the cage to my opponent (he looked like he was on a mission to destroy anything in his path). The referee slapped his hands, and it was go time. Touching gloves with my opponent, I was getting ready to throw a combination, when out of nowhere (seemingly) I got blasted with one of the hardest shots that I have ever felt in my life. Then another one came, and each one more crushing than the previous one. Falling down on the mat, I was about to experience my first standing eight count. The ref holding my gloves, and counting to eight will be etched in my memory for years to come. I was OK, but a little woozy. The ref slapped his hands for a second time, and we were off once again. Hitting my opponent with a kick, he came at me with the ferocity of a 19 year-old Mike Tyson, and again, his crushing blows were too much for me to handle. I was seeing gloves coming my way, the ref, the crowd, and the cage all at once. It’s a helpless feeling, and scary at the same time. As expected, I went down again. This time the ref signaled to the nurse to come check me out. The nurse gave me a series of tests and after examining me, she told the ref that she will not let me continue to fight. And just like that, the fight was over. Leaving the cage was the most embarrassing moment in my life. I had just been destroyed in front of strangers, friends, family, and teammates.

 

Going in the back room, I knew something was wrong when one of my teammates grabbed an ice pack, and put it on my right eye. Looking like Rocky, the embarrassment set in even more. My coach and teammates offered words of encouragement and praise, but I felt otherwise. Getting dressed and getting my stuff together, my brother appeared and told me how proud he was of me, and told me about one of our favorite scenes from the movie Batman Begins “why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up,” said Thomas Wayne to his son, Bruce. When my brother said that to me, it clicked in my head: you have to fail before you succeed.

 

I have absolutely no regrets about my first kickboxing match, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons that night. Take it from me: get out of your comfort zone, and see what happens. You might fail like me, but even doing something that you set your mind to will be extremely gratifying. Don’t waste any more time, and really commit to the goals that you’ve set for yourself. You just might surprise yourself on how far you can actually go.

 

 

 

 

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone Part 2

 

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.

 

 

 

Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone

MMA

 

For quite some time now, I’ve been a fan of MMA. The conditioning, training, and strategy involved have piqued my interest over the years. Of course the first time you see a MMA event, you can’t help but to notice the blood and violence that gets displayed. It’s when you take the time to educate yourself about the sport, and talk to fighters that you gain a totally new perspective on the sport.

 

Reading about MMA and watching it was satisfying to me— until I had a realization: I should get  out of my comfort zone, and learn more about MMA by actually doing it. My favorite fighter George St. Pierre, is the welterweight champion in the UFC, and after learning more about George and his training, it became clearer to me that I should at least attempt to train. In his book, “The Way of the Fight” Georges describes how he got his start in MMA training, and how much he had to overcome. With his hard work ethic and determination, Georges St. Pierre transformed into one of the finest athletes the UFC has ever seen. The point I’m trying to make is not about thinking I can transform into a fighter, but to gain knowledge about the sport and experience the world of MMA.

 

It was a cold night (30 degrees to be exact) and I was on my way to my first MMA training session. Getting out of my vehicle, I walked up to the door of the gym, and proceeded to go inside. Stepping inside the gym was an explosion of activity in front of my eyes. Guys and girls gearing up, stretching, light sparring, laughter, shaking hands, loud music, and me (taking it all in). To my right was the front desk, and I was greeted by a black belt in Hapkido. After filling out a waiver, I was given a tour of the gym and was introduced to several fighters. Putting on boxing gloves, it was time to work out. First up was cardio, and it was the most exhilarating feeling I’ve had in a while. Standing in line, then sprinting to the punching bag and throwing a series of combinations, and sprinting back— completing more exercises was grueling. During that workout, I smiled to myself and was glad to be in such company with great athletes.

 

After cardio, the real training began: drills. This part was tough to grasp at first, but after getting some instruction I started to nail down some combinations. The constant sound of 1-2-1, 1-2-3, and 3-2-3 was heard throughout the gym. Next I received instruction on how to put it all together and add some kicks. Working on the bag, a professional fighter taught me the basics of combinations and how to properly throw punches and kicks.

 

The training session got even more intense after that, and it involved sparring. For my safety, I was not allowed to spar whatsoever. My instructor wanted me to observe, and learn just by watching. Surveying the fighters, I picked out (in my mind) the best fighters, and watched them with exquisite detail. It’s amazing what you can learn just by watching something, and I definitely picked up on some things.

 

The home stretch was grappling, and I was eager to learn this aspect of MMA. Typically in a MMA fight, the fight might go down to the ground and that’s where you will see a complete fighter, as opposed to someone that’s not. In MMA, it’s absolutely crucial that you learn the ground game and learn how to defend yourself if the situation comes up in a fight. Getting to learn various moves was such a thrill, and getting instruction from a seasoned wrestler was the icing on the cake. The last part of the training session was getting to grapple with a fighter.  Grappling was definitely the highlight of the night for me, and being able to escape a few times was exciting as well. When the final buzzer sounded, I was exhausted beyond belief. Talking to my instructor afterwards, he expressed to me that from what he could see,  I was doing a great job for a first timer. Thanking him for his kind words, I told him I loved every minute of it and that I would return. Walking out of the gym, I felt a sense of accomplishment and was glad that instead of thinking negative and downing myself, I challenged myself and got out of my comfort zone.

Ignore Impossible #14: Whitney Miller

 

Whitney 2 Miss Texas 2012, Miss United States 2012, and MMA figher, Whitney Miller, joined me on the podcast, and she shared with me her MMA experience, training, and gave some solid advice about life.  She is an exceptional woman, and I am humbled that she wanted to be a part of my podcast.