Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Fights vs. Exciting Fight

A few weeks ago on of our team members was involved in one of the most exciting fights that I can remember seeing live or televised. It was an amateur fight between two good amateur fighters,both ready to go pro very soon.  The fight featured multiple knock downs, a saved-by-the-bell near submission and a few "asleep on his feet" near KO's.  The video of this fight has gone viral.  It's been posted on every mma website of note (including, and and was also featured on Inside MMA with hosts Bas Rutten and Kenny (the living dead) Rice. Seriously have you seen that guy?  Somebody get him a vitamin drink.  You can watch the fight here. 

This was, no doubt, a super exciting fight.  Problem is, it wasn't a good fight.  Is a hockey game "good" when  both teams have shitty defense and a terrible goalie?  Nope, it's sloppy, and so was this fight.  I've had tons of people in the last few weeks talk to me about what an "awesome" fight it was.  I always respond by saying that "it sure was exciting".  Unfortunately our fighter, Owen, put on a good show, but didn't show how well he has developed as a fighter over the last little while.  He has made a lot of technical improvements in his game and improved his skill set tremendously.  All of that went out the window after the first punch landed. He didn't show his improved wrestling, ground game and much more technical and striking.  He slung leather with bad intentions.  And, while the crowd loved it, he left the cage without the belt he came with, having taken much more punishment than he needed to.

The "be exciting" vs "just win" argument pops up at all levels of mma, and this fight highlights the struggle to find a balance between the two sides.  Our fighter got a lot of attention and press for a fight where he didn't perform particularly well and eventually lost.  Is that attention and notoriety worth the lost brain cells and a championship belt?  I don't think so.  As a fighter I believe that job #1 is win. Job #2 is be exciting.

Additional Info
  • Owen Martin is a 7-2 amateur Welterweight from Garden River, Ontario who fights out of Steel City MMA in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario
  • This event was "Rumble on the Border 2" presented by Big John's MMA and Berserker MMA.  It was a pro-am event headlined by former SCMMA fighter Adrian Vilaca who now lives and trains in Toronto, Ontario. Vilcaca improved his pro record to 2-0 (after a 6-0 amateur career) by defeating Extreme Couture Las Vegas fighter Kyosuke Yokoyama.  
  • SCMMA fighter Josh Fryia won his flyweight matchup against Joe Julio by TKO
  • Independent fighter Dalton Macfarlane, who trained with SCMMA leading up to this fight won his fight via 2nd round KO

Monday, July 18, 2011

Done and Done.

King of the Cage: Underground 69 is over and it went well.  I won the main event fight via armbar at 1:48 of the first round, even though it seemed a lot longer than that.  More than anything I am relieved to have that fight over with.  While my preparation going into the fight was good, the week before the fight was not.  Almost exactly a week before fight time I injured my back.  I'm not sure how, but I could barely put pants and socks on.  Just getting around and doing everyday activities was tough, never mind fighting.  A few chiropractor and massage appointments helped a little, but I was still in a lot of pain, and not very mobile.  To make things worse, at the same time I got sick and had to go on antibiotics.  Those things really kicked my ass and made me feel sluggish.  Cutting weight while on antibiotics was brutal.  Needless to say, the week leading up to the fight was less than ideal.  Luckily all of the hard work had been done by then anyways.

Sizing up the opponent.
As for the fight, everything went pretty much according to game plan.  My brother Mitch and I had done the scouting report and put together our plan.   It was as if Mitch choreographed the entire fight.    I was able to stay patient and make it through my opponents striking and exploit a few positions we knew I could get to.  I would have liked to pull the trigger a lot more in the striking aspect of the fight as I feel that my striking is much better than I showed in the fight.  The one thing I didn't want to do though, was get in a firefight with a guy who's strongest skill is boxing and who's most dangerous weapon is fast flurries of punches.  With my limited mobility in my back I was much more keen to get my hands on him, control some heavy top positions and take what he would give me, which turned out to be an arm-bar.
Looking to finish.

For those of you that were at the fight and booed my opponents apparent lack of respect in the cage after the fight it's worth noting that I went and talked with him afterwards and he was pretty cool about everything.  For people who've never fought it's tough to describe what happens to you at the end of the fight.  You have so many chemicals being dumped into your system that it's tough to keep your composure, especially after losing a tough fight that you spent countless hours preparing for. trust me, I've been there.

Now I'm looking forward to healing, relaxing a bit and getting ready for my next fight which looks to be not very far away.

Thanks to Trevor Dowhaniuk for the pictures I've used here, he captured some great ones.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No, I Am Not "Getting Jacked" For This Fight.

"Are you jacked?"  "Are you excited?"  "Are you getting pumped?"

Every time I fight I hear these questions at least a bazillion times in the week leading up to the fight.  When I shrug my shoulders and answer with "not really" or "not yet" people seem taken aback.  The truth is I've never been one to get all jazzed up before I fight and there's a few reasons. 
  1. It's counter-productive.  Some people think that fighting angry, or "psyched up" is the way to go.  That may be true if you think that overwhelming your opponent is the only way you can win.  If you have faith in your training, your skills and your game-plan though, getting all "psyched up" is a detriment to clear thinking.  
  2. When your emotional level gets too high you run the risk of an emotional crash when something doesn't go your way; and in a tough fight there are bound to be moments where not everything is going your way.  In such moments it pays to have a clear mind and be able focus on correcting the situation.
  3. Getting psyched up burns a lot of mental energy.  It can zap the system as badly as using up too much physical energy before the fight.  I often chuckle to myself when I see new fighters with their hands taped and mouthguards in, walking around with angry faces several hours before they fight.  Do they know how much work it takes to look that pissed off for that long?
  4. This is not new. This will be my 8th professional fight. Before that, I had several amateur fights.  I've fought overseas.  I've wrestled for a National Championship.  This fight is important.  It does not, however, overshadow everything I've done previously.  
    This will not be me at weigh-ins.
If you are coming to watch me fight on Saturday you'll probably see my opponent come into the cage yelling, jumping around, gesturing to the crowd and mean mugging.  He might try some of the same stuff at weigh-ins. That's fine.  Maybe, for his own confidence, he feels like he needs to do that, but you won't see any of that from me.  A few hours before the fight you're likely to find me hanging out, playing cards, having a nap or sneaking out to talk to some friends in the crowd.  When it comes time to focus on the task at hand I'll be all business, but there's no sense wasting all of my energy before hand.

I'm not saying that I don't get nervous or scared; I do.  I've said before that anyone who says they don't is either lying or stupid.  You should be nervous or scared.  Those feelings you get is your body preparing itself for battle, pulling out those fight or flight (hopefully fight) responses that have been ingrained in our DNA for millenia.  If you aren't getting those feelings, your body and mind are not properly prepared to do what you are going to do.  I recently heard a quote from Urijah Faber that sums it up nicely.  It went something along the lines of "Yeah, I get butterflies; I just make them fly in formation".

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why Do we Fight (or... Why Fighting is Important)

People often ask me why I fight.  There's a hundred reasons, and I could talk about each of them for hours.  I could talk about the evolutionary or anthropological reasons that people fight; the reasons that the fight or flight response is hardwired into our brains to facilitate human survival.  I could talk about growing up in a family where stories of warriors, be they athletes, schoolyard scrappers or decorated WWI and WWII veterans figured prominently into family history.  I could talk about the need to test my limits and challenge myself both physically and mentally.  I could talk about the purity of combat sports; no balls, nets, hoops or equipment. Just you, your opponent and all of the skill and preparation you could both muster.  I've heard a lot of different fighters explain why they fight a lot of different ways.  I ran across this video recently and enjoyed a slight twist on the overcooked question of "Why do you fight?" Instead of dealing with the question the speaker in the video discusses why fighting is important. 

King of the Cage: Underground 69
 Fight night is about a week away and I've done most of the hard work.  it's time to let me body heal, finalize some gameplan ideas, sharpen a few technical skills and make sure that my weight is good.  I'm looking forward to getting back in the cage, even though it's always a bit of  a crazy feeling.  People who tel you they don;t get nervous are either lying or stupid.  That nervous feeling is your body preparing itself to do something it doesn't normally do.  If that's not happening, something's wrong. I've fought 10 or 11 times now and I still get those feelings.  The only real difference is now I expect them and they don't really bother me.

Steel City MMA

Steel City MMA is opening it's doors on Sept. 1st 2011.  You can now register online for Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Wrestling, MMA or any combination of the above. Check out the on-line registration page.  Click on the "Steel City MMA tab, change the date to September and select the class or classes you'd like to enroll in.  Also, join our facebook page and check out our website for prices, schedule and other info.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ontario Couch Surfing Tour 2011 Wrap Up.

Best dressed guy in the room!
Is it lame to have a signature shirt when you aren't even remotely famous? Probably. Can you turn someone down if they offer to make you a signature t shirt? Nope. That's why you won't catch me wearing my shirt except on fight day. I did however spot my buddy Adrian Vilaca wearing my shirt in his facebook profile picture while training in Ottawa.
Adrian is a good dude to have around for mma training camps. Always ready to help, able to push people in all aspects of the game and knowledgeable about sport specific training methods. Check out his training and coaching blog here.  Turnaround is fair play so here's me wearing my "Vengeance" Vilaca shirt training with Jesse Ronson and Chris Clements at Adrenaline Training Center. Both guys have fights coming up so I trained with them for a a few days while I was in London.   An ex- wrestling teammate by the name of Andrew Elliot is helping both guys get ready for their fights so we spent a few days together training in the cage and on the mats, working on a few specific situations and sharing knowledge.

Chris Clements is the Ringside welterweight champ and actually has the record for the fastest KO in MMA history.


The Life of a Drifter.
On my trip I was lucky enough to train with some great fighters and people at Xtreme Couture, Bruckman's Martial Arts, MECCA Jiu Jitsu/MMA and Adrenaline Training Center.  Another great thing about couch surfung my way through Southern Ontario was catching up with family, friends and teammates, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long time.   Big thanks to Andy, Andrew, Andy (yes, two Andy's) Katie, Puds, Dee and aunt Mary for the hospitality, couches, pools, barbeques and meals. It was great to see everyone and catch up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On the Road, Training and Visiting

I had a great day of training yesterday.  In the morning I went to Extreme Couture and did some no gi jiu jitsu with Micha Circunov and Darson Hemmings and did some bag work.  In the evening I went to Bruckman's Martial Arts in Oshawa where I did some wrestling, some light sparring and some pad work with Antonio Carvalho.  Carvalho is coming off a big win and recently signed with the UFC.  He made a name for himself fighting in Japan and beating some of the top featherweights in the world like Rumina Sato and Hatsu Hioki.  When I fought in Japan he helped me a out a lot by hooking me up with some great people that helped me find my way through Tokyo and even ended up cornering me.  Definitely one of the most solid and genuine guys I've met in the sport.  Check out one of his recent fights back in Canada.  

Today I'm off to Train at MECCA in downtown Toronto and tomorrow I'm headed to London to train at Adrenaline Training Center for a few days.

Thanks to Andrew and Andy for letting me crash at their house while in Toronto.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Pofessor vs. Scrapyard

What are the chances that one tiny highschool, population 500ish has two teachers that are professional figters? The school I teach at does. Thers' myself, obviously, and another fella named Ray. Ray and I wrestled at the same University (Lakehead Thunderwolves) and train together in MMA. Naturally, kids want to know who would win a fight or wrestling match. Instead of breaking their hearts with the truth that Ray would get twisted up like a pair of hand wraps in the washing machine (kids tend to like him for some reason) I usually just say that it would not be a fight anyone would enjoy. The poor guy is such a head case I don't think he could handle the truth. The only thing in worse shape than his body is his self esteem. That doesn't stop kids from asking though, and we often exchange in smack talk through mutual students. Getting a kid to deliver a well timed chirp to someone on the other side of the school can be very rewarding. We've developed quite a second hand rivalry and kids get more worked up about it than we do. That's why when news leaked out that Ray and I would scrap it out in a wrestling match in front of the school as the entertainment portion of our Intramural awards assembly there was a bit of a buzz aorund the school. Needless to say, people were not expecting us to come out in full sumo suits. I suppose some would say that Ray won the match, but it's only because he's fat.

**disclaimer** I'm now typing and posting from my tablet so I can't embed videos or make secondary titles. I will also blame any spelling or grammar mistakes on this. Any previous spelling mistakes are to be blamed on our education system, especially those dirt-bag English teachers.

Two Weeks Out From Fight Night
Friday was exactly two weeks until weigh in for my fight and I haven't cut weight since November so I decided to do a test weight cut to see how my body handles it. I didn't cut all the way but i felt okay. The full weight cut won't be fun, but it's definitely doable. Instead of going to a gym to do the weight cut I went out to Ray's house because he built a gym and a sauna in his barn (there's a reason his nickname is scrapyard). Check it out.

Traveling and Training
I'm currently on the road in southern Ontario coaching at the Canada Cup of Wrestling and then training at a few different places for my fight coming up. I'll probably post everyday while I'm on the road so hopefully I find my way to a real computer to load some of the vids.