Running out of creative blog post titles
Friday night I went with Johnny and Sean to the Soboba Casino in San Jacinto for King of the Cage (http://www.kingofthecage.com), a mixed martial arts event that their friend Charlie Valencia fought in—he was the main event. I have seen Charlie train at New Breed, and his wrestling is amazing. Explosive, aggressive, effective. Lots of “ives.” His takedowns are everything mine are not. He has apparently been competing in wrestling and other events since he was a child.
The person Charlie was supposed to fight pulled out close to the day, so they switched in a guy named Cub Johnson, who is about 15 pounds heavier. I haven’t been to many live MMA events; in fact, the first one I went to was the one in Anchorage this past summer. For this one, Johnny was cornering Charlie, which means that Sean and I got backstage access. So that was pretty cool; we found Charlie in the red room (red for the red corner), along with all the other red corner fighters on the card. He was lying on the floor kind of chilling out, and then as it got closer to his fight time, he started warming up by hitting the pads and doing a little grappling. I mostly just tried to stay out of the way and watch.
They had a TV in the room, so after I watched these guys psyching themselves up for their fights, sometimes saying a quick prayer in a circle with their corner guys and girlfriends/wives, and heading out the door en masse, I watched them slug it out on the TV, and then I watched them come back in, sometimes with black eyes, sometimes limping, and sometimes kind of bloody.
The venue was outdoors, and it was pretty chilly out, so I was glad to be inside. The fights themselves were pretty short, with lots of referee stoppages and tapouts to submission holds, but they were exciting. One guy in the red room with a big yellow Mohawk and lots of tattoos was being dominated by his opponent, but he managed to reverse him and start raining down punches. So he eventually won. Lots of the fights were like that; they looked like they were going to go one way and then would get reversed.
Charlie lost, unfortunately, but there is some controversy about the loss and the referee’s calls. The rules of KOTC state that no competitor can kick a downed opponent, at least not in the face. But there is footage of Charlie on his knees, after having gone for a takedown, and of Cub soccer kicking him in the left side of his face. He actually tried twice, but missed the first time (Charlie slipped on some of Cub’s blood—nice—and fell, so Cub tried a roundhouse kick that went over his head). This is not to say that Cub did these things on purpose, but that he did end up breaking the rules. So I guess Charlie and Johnny are going to contest the ruling.
The fight itself was pretty exciting, though. Like I said, Charlie’s fighting style is very aggressive and fun to watch. He had some really good takedowns and realized later that he didn’t control Cub’s head enough to keep him down. He also had some good knees to the face (legal ones) and is just so fast. It was lots of fun to watch him.
Charlie and his wife, Cris, had a kind of celebratory/housewarming party afterward (they just moved into a new house), so we didn’t get back to the academy until 6am. Holy crap. I’m still recovering from the missed sleep. It didn’t help that last night we had another roommate, Greg, who doesn’t just snore, but SNORES. I was kind of worried about him because he snores so loudly, and actually suggested that he get one of those sleep tests. Saturday during the day was open mat sparring, naptime for me, and then the UFC at the academy. Sunday was training at John McCarthy’s academy and then dinking around and seeing a late showing of The Departed. Great movie.
I still haven’t drained my cauliflower ear; I couldn’t find a syringe when Jason was here; Jason’s the guy who did it last time. But he’ll be back tomorrow, so I’ll have him do it then. He keeps saying I can do it myself, which is probably true, but I’m a chicken, so it probably won’t happen. I have to say, I earned a little cache with Charlie, Sheldon (another wrestler who cornered Charlie) and Joe Camacho (a fighter who is also Charlie’s cousin) when I showed them my ear. I don’t want to keep the swelling, but their reaction was funny; it was like I had arrived or something. They were also telling hilarious stories about their childhoods, so the night flew by and like I said, before we knew it it was 5:30 am and time to get some sleep.
Today was training in the morning, sushi, naptime, and training in the evening. In the morning I trained with Marlene, a white belt who is just coming back after a 6 month hiatus. In the evening Wen, Brad, Steven, and Brandon showed up, which was fun. Class was great, as usual, and now here I am with a list of things to think about:
1. The Claudio Franca tournament in Santa Cruz this weekend (I’m planning to compete, but so far the only purple belt women signed up are me and the woman I beat at the last competition). I’m also going to take a referee certification course that’s being held the day before the tournament. That should be pretty interesting.
2. The Abu Dhabi trials
3. My next steps on my journey. I’m starting to feel like I’m overstaying my welcome at New Breed, not because of anything anyone has said, but because I’ve been here for well over a month. And it’s getting to be time for me to figure out what the heck I want to do with myself next. I’m pretty sure I’ll leave in mid-November and drive east for a month, training at various places, staying in Chicago for a couple weeks, and arriving in Florida for Christmas. No idea what I’ll do after the new year, but that will take care of itself, I hope.
4. Training tomorrow with Felicia and Johnny in the morning and with Laura at Rey Diogo’s in the evening.
5. My next steps on my journey.
6. Did I mention my next steps on my journey?
7. Did I also mention the Abu Dhabi trials?
Boy, quitting my job and driving around to all those academies seems like a cakewalk now compared to what’s coming down the pike. Well, I guess all I can do is take care of the day I’m living right now. So right now it’s time to sleep, and then tomorrow I’ll train and think about the weekend in Santa Cruz. That seems like a manageable chunk. Cross your fingers.