Saying "when it rains, it pours" is about as cliched as it gets, but sometimes the cliche fits. The actual monsoon season is approaching in Korea and along with it I've been flooded with fight opportunities. First I was offered a spot in the Sengoku Asian Bantamweight Grand Prix, but was pulled because I wasn't Korean. Then I was offered a very tough fight in DEEP at the end of August which I accepted. Last week I was offered another fight in DEEP: Grachan to fight on the same card as my friend and training partner Un Sik. I had to decline because of previous commitments that couldn't be changed. saturday I was offered a spot as a short notice opponent for Ikuo Usuda on the Sengoku 13 card. The event is this coming Sunday. Even though I initially jumped at the chance to fight in Sengoku the more I thought about this fight, the more I didn't like it. First of all it is a very big fight on very short notice and I have only been training hard again for a little over a month. As much as I'd like to think that my athleticism would carry me through I know that there are lots of things I need to iron out before I fight a high level fight. I fought once on a lot less preparation than I should have had and told myself I would never do it again. The next thing is that the fight is at 65 kg. This is the weight I have fought at before but I am much leaner right now and will be fighting at a lower weight in the future. After practice today I was 66.5 kg. Usuda on the other hand is coming down for his first fight at 65 kgs. after going 6-0 in Shooto and Sengoku as a 70 kg. fighter. He would be a huge 65 kg fighter and I would be pretty small for that weight. This is the kind of fight I am looking for in the future, but I don't think is a good decision for me right now. Coincidentally, Usuda's original opponent was suposed to be a guy I fought and beat at the East Asian Sambo Championships. On the plus side, it's good to know that I am finally on the radar of some of the bigger Asian promotions.
Some things never change.
Jim Liguori, who owns and coaches Ho Shin Sool MMA used to go crazy because I would leave my stuff all over the place. I would forget my shirt on the floor, leave my hand-wraps hanging on a doorknob, leave my mouthguard on the windowsill... you name it, I forgot it at the club. Well, Jim will be happy to know that it's just not him, I do it to the coach/owner at Daegu MMA too. Usually it's not a big deal because I can pick it up the next day, but about a month ago I lost my custom fit mouthguard that my dentist friend Riley made for me. I finally found it today and was super pumped; I never knew how much better a custom mouthguard was until I tried one. While I'm on the topic, it's great to have a friend as your dentist. How many times have you wanted to swear at your dentist? I can do it freely. When she says dentist-y things like "Hmmm, your gums are bleeding a little bit." I can say things like "No kidding, you just stabbed them with a sharp metal poker; I'm pretty sure I'd bleed anywhere if you did that."
Where Am I and How Did I Get Here?
After a few amateur MMA fights I decided it was time to step things up and fight as a pro. In two years I racked up a 4-1 record as a pro. I can honestly say that none of the opponents I fought were particular studs, even the one opponent I lost to. All of my wins came via TKO or submission stoppage, with none of my opponents making it past the 3rd minute of the first round. The lone loss on my record was disappointing but I don't think reflects on my skills as a fighter. It was a fight I took unprepared. I went into the fight in not great shape and without having put in the training time I should have. Even still, I was dominating my opponent for most of the fight. I picked him up and took him down with a slam and was delivering some ground and pound. As I was standing in his guard I got sloppy (overconfident?) and hung my head lazily, getting caught in a guillotine in the process. I got back on the winning track shortly after, but promised myself I would never fight unprepared like that again. Regardless of the results, I felt like it was time to step up the level of my competition. I had a tough time doing so, in large part because of the expense of getting me from Sault Ste. Marie to a place where big fights happen. Sault Ste. Marie is not exactly a travel hub and organizations weren't very willing to spend big money to fly me to their fights. That's why I decided to temporarily relocate to a place where bigger fights might come my way. Hence, Korea.
While some people might think I'm jumping into the deep end of the pool with my upcoming fight, that was exactly my goal in coming here. I always felt like I could compete at a much higher level than I was and now I'm getting the chance to prove it. I've always thought that testing your limits is an important part of life. How can you really know who you are if you don't know what you're capable of?
The Daegu MMA family often goes on weekend outings together and this weekend I was lucky enough to attend my first team/family outing. We drove a ways out of town and hiked up a mountain towards a stream and some mountain top pools. This place was amazing. There were dozens of pools of crystal clear cold mountain water and you could slide down the rocks into them. Here's some pics of the main pool that we spent most of our time at.
View from above the main pool.
Left to right: Po Kue, Jae Hoon and Me.
At one point Jae Hoon dove down to the bottom of the pool and came up saying "pink hat! pink hat!". I wasn't sure why he was so amazed about a hat at the bottom of a pool of water but he eventually said "I get it!" and dove down to retrieve the object in question. When he came back up he was holding a SEVERED PIG'S HEAD. No joke. "Pig head", not "pink hat". Then he threw it at someone.
After swimming we set up our grill and proceeded to eat ridiculous amounts of samguipsal and galbi. If we had twice as many people as were actually there we still would have had way too much food, but that's pretty typical of eating with Koreans.
Who doesn't have a story that starts with "So I'm juggling cans of paint in class..". I'll let you guess how that turned out.