Grapplers Quest @ UFC Fan Expo 2010
First of all, I wish that everyone had a good Memorial Day!
Found this posted on the Underground, Think that it is very fitting for that day:
“It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.”
and there is not a better way to honor those Veterans of the past other than to enjoy the freedoms that are given to us nowadays.
Its been a while since checking in, things sure have been exciting and extremely busy on my end. That has to be a good thing to be this busy at my age, and doing what I love makes all this hard work worthwhile.
Just returned home late Friday night from competing in the Grapplers Quest at the UFC Fan Expo in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas Nevada. It was a great experience, and just like any time competing, I learn more about myself; all while meeting new, great people along the journey. I’v heard over and over again that its not always about what you know in life, but about who you know. Every day I meet new great people who are very supportive towards my goals, and that is exactly the type of people that I need to be surrounded by.
Anyways about Vegas.. At first it was really exciting because my Hotel was booked at the Circus Circus with a rate of only $25! On the budget of a MMA fighter, this was epic. I cut my weight and headed towards Las Vegas, planning to arrive at the weigh ins 2 hours after they started, thinking that the line would have died down by then, so I could go right in and weigh in. Well after arriving in Vegas, it turned out I was VERY wrong, because never have I seen a line as big as that one. Thats saying a lot too, because its been over 10 years for me now between competing and going to weigh ins. While waiting in the huge line I had some time to post on my Facebook and reflect on how much the sport has grown. I heard word that there was over 1,5000 competitors, and over 45,000 tickets sold to the Expo. Its always exciting as an MMA fighter to hear things like this, after all, if there is no fans, there is NO SPORT!
After weighing in I went to my hotel room to eat. Whenever traveling to Vegas I bring a packed cooler and my handy dandy convectional oven with me, because I am a very picky eater, especially when it is close to competition time. Ended up making a ton of Cod fish fillets, with a bunch of carrots, onions, bell peppers, lime, garlic, avocado, tomatoes and spinach all packed in to some wheat bread. Needless to say it was awesome. Food always tastes a million times better after cutting weight. After eating and drinking all my supplements, I went to bed as soon as I could.
Woke up feeling great and ready to compete on Friday morning, arrived at the Expo and ate a nice peanut butter sandwich because it was going to be a long time before being able to eat again. I seen my past trainer and current UFC fighter Michael “Joker” Guymon while walking around; They call him Joker for a reason.
I waived and said “Hi Joker!” He then smiled at me and said
“Hey! Are you competing in the Grapplers Quest today??”- I nodded, then he said “Well if all else fails just throw a hard right cross!”
I smiled and laughed, then walked to the warm up area.
They called my division up to Mat 12, stoked and ready I began warming up to compete. Definitely had a good performance in my first match, got a few take-downs early on to get ahead on points, then the guy tried a shot on me and I was able to lock up a guillotine, close my guard and get him to tap. My 2nd match I faced a guy that I met a few years ago at tryouts for the International Fighting Championships, He came from Jackson’s MMA out of Albuquerque New Mexico. It felt a lot more of a competitive match than the first one. I got a take-down and held top position, tried to pass guard a few times, and went for a few guillotines, but won the match by points after the 6 minute mark. In my finals match it was very exciting because I was facing a multiple time World Champion Black Belt who also owned his own gym in San Francisco. Being the hungry fighter I am, I love opportunities like this because I have nothing to lose and everything to gain coming in to compete. I got ahead on points by a take-down a few minutes in, then he capitalized on a mistake and ended up beating me in the finals. It was a competitive match though, and I am looking forward to competing again with that guy down the road.
After watching Bill Cooper face Hermes Franca in a very exciting grappling match, I got my medal, took a few pictures, then began to focus on the $1,000 Advanced Absolute tournament that was about to start. When thinking about competing in these, its such a mental test every time coming in to a match up, because not only are the people ill be facing over 100 lbs more than me, but usually their grappling pedigree is more extensive than mine. There is people that train all year long in just grappling; meanwhile as an MMA fighter we must turn our focus on other things throughout the year. So again, I had everything to gain and nothing to lose, which is why competing in grappling tournaments are so much fun. Looking around I knew there was a LOT of big name MMA fighters and grapplers competing in the division. I seen Jeff Monson, Ricco Rodriguez, and Josh Barnett to name a few.
I came up to the mat when they called the division over and noticed that my name wasn’t listed in the bracket. Confused I asked the referee what the problem was and he told me not worry and they will put me in. A few moments later a guy came over and said that someone wasn’t going to be able to compete because they got injured. The referee crossed the guys name off the bracket, and I noticed that he was matched up with Jeff Monson. After noticing this I asked the referee to put me in for that guy against Monson; He then he wrote my name in. The reason I did this is because I would have to beat Monson anyways if I was planning on winning the tournament, and I always come to win. Also a win over Monson, who is a multiple World ADCC Champion, Former UFC Heavyweight contender, Black Belt; would be so huge for me, and this was a perfect challenge that I wanted to test myself against.
They called our names to the mat and we both walked over. The match started and I knew the game plan that I was going to try, and that was to NOT get underneath this guy that was twice my size ha. I had a close submission attempt in the opening frame, then made a small mistake partly because I’m not used to grappling people 100 lbs more than me. After my mistake Monson landed in side control and went for a choke. I had good defense and was able to fight it off, but was having a hard time dealing with the weight, and he was able to get back to side control. Then he went for a north-south choke on me. I thought it was pretty funny for a moment, because I learned how to do my north-south choke from watching him choke Brandon Lee-Hinkle unconscious at UFC 57 in 2006. After fighting another choke off I was able to scramble out to my feet and begin working my game again. I worked a lot of fakes and take-down attempts and tried my best to land some chokes from the feet. The match went on like this for most of it, until towards the end I got over-aggressive and did a sloppy shot and landed in his choke, forcing me to tap with less than 25 seconds to go. After announcing the winner Jeff shook my hand and gave his respect to me. As I walked off a lot of people came up to me shocked that a 135 pounder had a competitive match with Jeff Monson and started asking questions like “What belt are you?” and “Where do you train?”
After everything was said and done the Grapplers Quest was a great experience and I had a great time, all while bettering myself as an athlete and as a person.
Definitely looking forward to the next one, and looking forward to working on my mistakes in the Gym.
By the way, Check out what I got while competing against Jeff Monson that will make me remember this day for the rest of my life. Some fighters call them trophies, Doctors call it “Cauliflower Ear”
Sorry Grandma! Haha