I have fought before. I have done grappling matches. I have fought in Pankration tournaments. In fact, I have even done a smoker before. But, this time it was different. This time I had a full MMA school backing me up, The Fight Academy in Pasadena. This time it was a full MMA fight sanctioned by the California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization, Inc. (CAMO).
When Savant Young, head trainer and co-owner of the Fight Academy, announced that the gym would be hosting Proving Grounds 3, I let him know immediately that I wanted to fight. Savant got back to me a few days later, and told me that I would be fighting at 160. I had slacked on my diet, and since CAMO has same day weigh-ins, I knew that I had my work cut out for me.
A friend of mine asked me, “Now that your are set to fight, what are you doing differently?”
“Nothing,” I replied. “I’m just making sure that I don’t miss any training sessions.” To a large extent, I guess that was true. After all, I am an amateur, and every aspect of my MMA game needs improvement. But, when I really gave it some thought, I realized that the answer I gave my friend was not completely true. I enjoy submission grappling. I like chasing submissions. In preparing for the fight, however, submissions were not my priority. It was a case of business before pleasure. Instead of focusing on submissions, I went for sweeps. I tried not to end up in bad positions. I purposely put myself in bad positions and tried to get out. Most importantly, I watched for the directions that punches would be coming from.
As the fight approached, I increased my intensity during training, and I started going to extra practices. I was fixated on my weight. I needed to lose weight, but I did not want to lose it too fast. I did not want to go into the fight weak from losing weight. Savant also started to ask me about my physical. I went on the CAMO website to figure out what exactly I needed to do. The first thing I had to do was to register and create a new account at http://www.camomma.org/user/register.
When I created the account with CAMO, it gave me a jolt that told me that this was real, that I would be stepping in the cage in a few weeks. After I created the account, I clicked on the tab that said “Forms”. The first link on that page said, “Athletes Application Package.” It says package, which makes it seem intimidating, but it is rather simple to get done. http://www.camomma.org/sites/default/files/Athlete%20Package%202010%201%2012.pdf
The most difficult part of the licensing process, for me, was getting the physical. It was pain staking dealing with the insurance company, and trying to get an appointment with a doctor. The problem was that I waited until there were only a few weeks left before the fight to set up an appointment. It took calls to the insurance company, calls to different doctors, and time searching on the web, but I finally got an appointment twelve days before the fight.
I printed out the package the day I went to the doctor’s office. The last two pages of the package are for the doctor to fill out. The questions on the form are all straight forward. Have you ever had diabetes? Frequent headaches? When was the last time you took any type of medication or drug? etc. They also ask for things such as heart rate and blood pressure, before and after hopping 100 times. While at the doctor’s office, the nurse drew blood to test me for HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Like I said, everything was straight forward.
The week of the fight, I went back to the doctor’s office to pick up the results of the blood test. I got the results, all negative, and finished filling out the application. One of the pages is for authorization to charge your credit card $115 for the license. I am sure that this step is crucial for CAMO. Actually, it is not too bad. At least you get two short-sleeved rash guard, a red and a blue one, and a pair of MMA gloves. My final step was to fax all the pages to the CAMO office.
Saturday August 14, 2010 had finally arrived. After so much hard work, all the soreness and bruises, all the strict dieting, fight day had finally arrived. The first thing I did when I got up that day was jump on the scale. I was well within weight. I was even able to drink a few cups of water and eat a little before weighing in.
At the weigh-ins, I stripped down to my underwear and jumped on the scale. Both my opponent and I made weight. After we both weighed in, we did the mandatory stare down. When the stare down was complete, I went back to the dressing room to eat and wait.
About an hour before fight time, the doctor finished checking me one more time, and I got my hands wrapped. It was finally time. An official came to the dressing room and said it was fight time. I lined up with my corner. When the music came on, we started walking toward the cage. I took my time walking up, relishing every moment. I had worked extremely hard to get ready for this fight, and I was going to take my time to enjoy the moment. People from the gym had shown me so much love, encouraging me and giving me their full support. This fight was for me, but it was also for them and for my family. Thoughts of losing never crept into my mind. I had too many people backing me up.
I got hugs from my corner and my children before I jumped in the cage. I ran around the cage, once again taking in the energy from the crowd. Finally, I was in my corner and my opponent was in his corner. The ref looked at my opponent and yelled, “Ready?” He looked at me and yelled, “Ready?” I let him know that I was ready, and he yelled, “Fight!” My opponent and I both approached the center of the cage, touched gloves, and chingasos flew.
Here's the fight video: