Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Suspicious Happenings in the World of MMA

I realized that I haven't written much about living in Korea lately. It's not that I've run out of things to write about, it's just that I've been here for long enough that everything seems normal now. Getting pushed around by old ladies in the subway?  Normal.  Being buzzed by motorbikes when walking on the sidewalk?  Par for the course.  Kamikaze cab drivers? I don't even bat an eye.  Twelve bucks for a dinner for two... what the? Expensive!
My day to day life here is pretty much like at home.  Go to work, go to the gym, eat, sleep, repeat until weekend.  The only real difference is that I can't read most of the street signs and I can swear in public as much as I please because nobody can understand me anyways. I'm going to have to try and curb that one before I come back to save myself some trouble. 
We've been lucky with nice weekend weather and have been out and about most days off.  Last weekend we went to the Daegu Sports Museum (we happened to be walking by), which should have been called the World Cup Stadium Museum as it ignored some of the professional sports teams in the city and only dealt with teams and events connected to the stadium.  There were a few interactive displays inside that were kind of cool, but otherwise it was a little on the boring side.

This thing timed your first 10m and averaged how fast you would be over 100m.  yeah, it says 10.72.  I felt pretty awesome about that until Lisa intentionally jumped the gun and ran  8.72.  Whatever Lisa, why is everything a competition with you?

The WEC put on their first pay per view card on the weekend.  The event was pretty damn good, definitely better than any of the recent UFC or Strikeforce cards.  Come to think of it, every WEC card that I've seen has been really good.  I hope they got a good number of PPV buys.  If the WEC can do a few PPV shows per year that do well it means that the smaller fighters can start earning what they're worth.  For the first time this event had the same amount of bonus money for KO, submission and fight of the night as UFC events (65 g's) instead of the usual 25 grand that they get in the WEC.  I also heard that fight money for this event was much better as well.
On a side note, Korean fighter Chang Sung Jung "The Korean Zombie" got robbed in a decision vs. Leonard Garcia.  It was a bit of a slobberknocker to say the least.  The fighters pretty much stood in front of each other and threw punches, kicks and knees at each other to see who would go down first. I watched it twice to make sure living in Korea wasn't giving me a bias towards Chang, but I don't think it did.  Don't take my word that Chang got robbed though, check it out for yourself here and see what you think. On a side note to the side note. Chang Sung Jung beat my teammate Heung Kol, in the finals of the Korean "Super Tournament" a few years ago by split decision.

Fedor's little brother Aleksander Emelyanenko is a pretty tough dude.  He was a pretty good heavyweight in the PRIDE days.  Unfortunately, Aleks has Hepatitis and can't get medical clearance to fight in countries or organizations that use legit athletic commissions.  He still fights though. Usually against no namers in countries you'd be hard pressed to find on the map.  On the weekend he fought a guy named Eddy Bengsston.  He knocked the guy out with a jab that I'm pretty sure didn't even connect.  If the guy was getting paid to take a dive he could have made it look a lot better than that.  Even Emelyanenko looked confused when the guy went down.  Here's the fight, go to the 1:35 mark to see the punch in question.

By popular demand... ENGRISH!
This one kind of makes sense... I see kids in my class eating bugers all the time. Props to Lisa for spotting this one.

Just in case it's your first day on your new legs and you need some detailed, colour coded  instructions on how to WALK!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Tornado is Back... Big Time
Un Sik "Tornado" Song (8-0) finished his mandatory military service about a month ago.  It didn't take him long to get back in the action. Un Sik fought two weeks ago in DEEP: Grachan against Atsushi Ueda (8-3) and won via unanimous decision.  He said he had his opponent in a deep triangle and an armbar and had the guy fully mounted but couldn't finish him.  He seemed a bit embarassed that he gassed towards the end of the fight, but give the guy a break, he hadn't fought in two years.  Now that he's back to training full time his conditioning shouldn't be a factor for long.  Un Sik isn't working a part time job, and is instead focusing on fighting.  He has set himself a pretty tough schedule for his first months back.  After his last fight he has a pro kickboxing match next month and then another fight in DEEP the month after that.  If he wins that fight it looks like he'll be getting a title shot against Katsunori Kikuno (13-2), who also fights in DREAM.  The return of 'Tornado San" has been getting some decent attention on the interwebs, with articles and people commenting about his fight here, here and here.

Un Sik has really been working on his wrestling a lot lately.  I haven't been able to scrimmage with him lately but we work technique together and then I run him through drills and situational scrimmaging with other guys.  the speed that he picks up techniques is mind blowing.  His kinesthetic memory is probably the best I've ever seen.  He can see a complicated technique once and use it in a live situation almost immediately. Scary.  he's really jacked about the improvement in his wrestling.  Yesterday he told me that in 20 amateur and professional fights he has never scored a takedown on a leg attack and that is going to do it in his next fight.  We've also been doing a lot of pummeling and clinch work, especially against the wall.  His last fight and his next one are in a cage and it's an area of MMA he's never really worked on before.  It seems like more and more Japanese organizations are starting to use cages and Asian fighters definitely need to learn that part of the game.

Here's a video of me, Heung Kol and Un Sik in between matches at a tournament.

Un Sik and John warming up before some kickboxing sparring.

In other Daegu MMA news "Little GSP" as he's known, has his first kcikboxing match coming up next month.  he's been working pretty hard with a lot of the older guys.  It's kind of fun to watch a 16 year old kid go from total goofball to focused fighter training for a fight.  This kid has really stepped up his training in the last while and I'll be keeping my eye on him when I leave Korea.

I spotted a good piece of Konglish on my drink the other day. Koreans love their vitamin drinks. I don't even know what kind of vitamins are in these drinks but they must be good right?  Even if there's nothing in it at least I'll feel more confident, at least according to the copy on the can.

Ho Shin Sool, KING OF THE CAGE and XCC

The boys are ready to rock again.  Jeff, Ray, Trevor and Johnny are going to represent Ho Shin Sool at King of the Cage on May 8th at the Dreamakes Theater.  Everything I heard about the last event was great, here's hoping this one is just as good and better.  My brother, Mitch, and Adrian Vilaca are also going to be fighting soon in Birch Run, under the MUTT MMA banner.  Here's the poster for the KOTC event, with Trevor and Jeff on it.  I heard that there are some renovations coming up at Ho Shin Sool.  After seeing that poster I hope they put a tanning bed in the basement.

Genki Sudo Appreciation

Living in Asia I've really learned a lot about the Asian MMA scene.  I've learned a lot about a lot of differnt fighters and seen a lot of awesome fights that have never been broadcasted in North America.  One fighterthat I've become a huge fan of is Genki Sudo.  I always knew who he was, but never knew much about him until  recently.  The guy is a phenomenal fighter, carries a positive message with him all the time and is very interesting to listen to in his inerviews.  Sudo started as a wrestler, but developed all around MMA skills so quickly that he was soon taking on and beating World Class kickboxers in Striking only K1 matches.  His fighting style is impossible to pin down.  He might switch from a pure grappling style into drunken boxing before throwing in "the robot" and using his Muay Thai to finish a fight.  That's to say nothing of his ring entrances that make Mayhem Miller look like he's walking in off the street in jeans and a T Shirt. Genki Sudo fought in the UFC three times, going 2-1 but fought most of his fights in Asia, which is too bad for North American fans.  Do yourself a favour and watch the documentary that I posted at the top right.  It's about 40 minutes long and split into 5 parts.  I posted the first two.  It's a cool documentary with good fight highlights and interviews and it's well produced.  I have a tough time imagining that any MMA fan could watch the documentary and not be a fan of the guy.  As a matter of fact I think everyone, fight fan or not, would appreciate a lot of the interview sections.  After all, Sudo mentions that to him MMA was a in many ways just the medium to get his message across to as large an audience as possible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jiu Jitsu Jim, He's a Good Guy.
I've got this buddy named Jim Alers, he's a pretty bad dude.  He's a professional 145 lb mma fighter, like me.  We didn't meet fighting though. We met quite a few years ago when we were working at the same summer camp in Pennsylvania.  At the time Jim had recently finished his highschool wrestling career and was starting his journey into Jiu Jitsu.  I had pretty much wrapped up my University wrestling career, but hadn't started training in MMA yet.  Fast forward about five years and we both have 4-1 pro MMA records in the featherweight divisions as well as some victories in assorted grappling competitions. We still talk fairly regularly, especially when one of us has an upcoming fight.
Recently Jim did something spectacular. Fighting as a purple belt and representing Gracie Barra Orlando, Jim won the purple belt division of the Abu Dhabi World Championships qualifier.  Pretty awesome, but not as awesome as what happened after that.  Winning his division earned him an invite into the brown/black belt division, which he proceeded to win.  Winning the brown/black division punched Jim's all expenses paid trip to the World Championships in Abu Dhabi.  WILD!  Now Jim will surely be in deep water when he heads to Abu Dhabi  today but you gotta love his attitude.  Talking to him last week, Jim is pumped about the tournament and is going with a nothing to lose outlook and the intention of giving hell to each of his opponents.  Good luck dude, can't wait to hear about it.  Check out the video below.  It has a few highlights of Jim's last two matches at the trials and some awesome shots of him after his win.
Highlights of Jim Alers at the Abu Dhabi World Cup Trials from Panic Pulse on Vimeo.

 And Now, More About Me.
I haven't written much lately because, to be honest, there hasn't been much to write about.  A little over a month ago I started having some general pain.  I didn't think much of it, sucked it up and kept training. After all, I'm a man, man. After a few weeks the pain started to get a lot worse and I had to drop the training completely.  I went to the hospital and have had appointments with two surgeons.  I have no solid information on the problem, just an educated guess and an appointment booked for a very expensive MRI.  It's been over three weeks of no real training (plus a few weeks of very light training) and it's starting to feel a little bit better, but I still can't do much.
As of right now I'm in the difficult position deciding which course of action to take.  I could get the costly MRI and wait to get surgery at home if needed (as an elective surgery it won't be covered by my insurance here).  I could also skip the MRI altogether and hope the injury heals itself.  If it doesn't get better I can wait to get home and get everything done then.  The obvious drawback to that is the long wait times at home. Decisions, decisions.

On a more positive side, the weather has been starting to warm up and we've been able to get out and travel a bit more.  Every city, town and gas station in Korea seems to have their own festival of some kind so we've started checking a few of them out.  A few weeks ago we went to the Chungdo Bullfighting festival.  This wasn't man vs. bull fighting though, it was two bulls that smashed their heads and horns together until one ran away scared and tired.  Some of the fights went for 15 or 20 minutes with a lot of stalemating.  Some people thought it was lame.  I thought it was fantastic.
On the same trip we also went to an abandoned train tunnel that had been converted into a winery and restaurant/bar.  Not shabby.
A couple of stubborn bulls fighting

A couple of stubborn bulls fighting

Wine tunnel

Last weekend we traveled to Gyeungu to check out the cherry blossom festival.  Lisa and I went with our friends Freddie and Kaelegh and just happened to meet up with two other friends, Tim and Vee, on the bus. When we got to the city we rented some bikes and ripped around town. We saw some cool monuments and temples, but nothing mind blowing. 
 Kaelegh, Lisa and Freddie riding under the cherry blossoms

Canadian Wrestling Championships
Special shout out to Reyanna Sangestino who wrestles for the Sault Wrestling Club. For the second year in a row Reyanna advanced to the championship match at the National Wrestling Championships.  This year she one-upped her performance from last season to become the Canadian Champion.  She`s the first national champ from the Sault in a while.  Way to go.

A Couple of old Teammates Squaring off for all the Marbles.
When I was in highschool our wrestling team was one of better girls teams around.  One of my teammates from those days is Amanda Gerhart who recently won the Senior National Championships at the 59 kg weight class.  The tricky thing about the nationals this year is that the women`s national team was competing at the World Cup while the nationals were going on.  This means that there will be a special wrestle off between the national team member and the winner of the National Championships to determine this year`s national team member.  Interestingly enough, the girl that Amanda will be wrestling is Katie Patroch, a teammate of mine from University.  Who to root for?  Nobody and both, I guess.  Both girls have competed internationally at the World Championships, the Pan Ams and the World Cup and are among the toughest people that I know.