Days till fight: 35 | Current weight: 198lbs | Goal weight: 195lbs
Been too long since my last update. My life has settled into a steady routine: Weekdays, I'm up at 4:30AM to get to work by 6AM, back home around 4:30PM, up at the gym to train by 6:30, train for 1-2 hours, rush home, collapse into bed, repeat. On Saturday morning I've been incorporating both open-mat time (to work on my jiu jitsu) and striking / sparring work with a teammate who is also prepping for his own upcoming MMA fight.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, my striking (punches, kicks, knees, etc.) is hopelessly amateur-level. My hands are slow, I have little power in my punches, my kicks are decent but leave me out of position and off-balance, and my motion is herky-jerky and not often of any actual benefit to me. While I've gained some confidence in my submission defense while rolling around on the ground, my striking defense (read: ability to dodge or block incoming punches and kicks) is terrible, and I spend half my time wondering how the hell my sparring partner is so fast, and the other half desperately fighting the instinct to just cover my face and turn away from every incoming punch. I feel very literally like I'm trying to re-program 10,000,000 years of evolution and instinct, all of which is screaming into my brainstem, "RUN AWAY FROM BAD MAN WITH FISTS!!"
Despite all of the above info, I remain really excited about this experience. My communications with my opponent Mike have been sporadic (a few brief messages exchanged over the past few months), but he remains committed to making the revised weight we've agreed to (195lbs, instead of our original 185lbs. goal), and has shared (in vague terms) his own difficulties with training and dieting.
I booked our plane tickets to Vegas today, and with only 35 days left, I'm especially focused on ramping up my conditioning. Watching amateur MMA videos on Youtube tends to reveal a few patterns, but one stands out very quickly: if the fight doesn't end because one fighter wilts under pressure in the first 30-60 seconds, the fight is very often won by the combatant with the better endurance, and not necessarily the better skill-set. In other words, you might be a striking or grappling genius, but if you're gasping for air and flopping around after two minutes of punishing activity, you're probably gonna have a bad time.
Finally, for your entertainment, here is some quick footage of me working a heavy bag at the gym a week or two ago. This was shot after a 2-hour grappling session so I was already pretty much dead tired, but I figured I could at least work some simple combos and kicks. It's a lot easier to do this stuff when your target isn't dancing in and out of range while peppering you with jabs.
I keep repeating to myself, "you're not making a career out of this... you're doing this for the experience... win or lose, just put on an entertaining fight..." but here's the thing:
I want to win.
Every time I picture myself in the cage, door locked, gloves on, heart pounding, crowd yelling, my adrenaline spikes and my body gets twitchy. Since taking on this crazy challenge, I've had injuries (numerous small annoying ones, and one huge one that could easily have ended the whole project), scheduling difficulties, ebbs and flows of confidence, and never enough sleep. I don't know how to tell the difference between pushing myself past my limits vs. over-training and risking further injuries. All these concerns and doubts are floating around in my head, and I just can't bear the thought of going through all this build-up (not to mention dragging my wife, son, friends and training partners along for months!) just to see someone else's hand get raised. It just can't end like that. Whether by punch, kick, knee, submission or sheer stubbornness, I have to find a way to win this fight.