Sunday, January 7, 2018

Do what you love

Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. A great phrase yet so much easier said than done, as everything in this life pretty much is. How do we find our passion, what we were meant for, our calling? It seems to come so easy to so many but what if we’re not one of those individuals? What if we never find it and are stuck on this planet doing meaningless tasks? Then. By some miracle if we do find it how do we then go and manage to pursue it with every other situation and responsibilities in this life that seem to take us away from it?

I think it’s important to first understand that this will in no way be easy, nothing worth doing ever is. In fact, it will more than likely be the most difficult, challenging thing you ever do. You will hit untold bumps and roadblocks that will test you to your core and force you to question everything that you know and believe. I’m sorry if that’s discouraging, I’m sorry it isn’t easier yet the very essence of it being almost impossible is the very thing that makes it worth it. We rarely appreciate anything in this life that comes easy and it’s not until they are taken away from us that we come to understand them fully. Be grateful you aren’t just handed your passion on a silver platter for it is a blessing.

Let’s start with how to find out what it is that you love. Well, unfortunately there really is no short cut to this. Some people just know while others spend their entire lives searching. I think finding your passion should be approached the same as you will when going after it. If you have to ask how long it will take, if you have to ask what it will cost you’re better off doing something else. Either you can settle for a ‘normal’ life or you can risk everything for that ultimate pursuit that so few ever go after or achieve. Again, I can’t tell you how long it will take or what you will need to do in order to get there but one thing I can tell you for sure is that it will be worth it.

It’s easy to look at those who are doing what you want, living their dreams, pursuing their passions, as having it handed to them. We assume that everything was easy. They were born into it, they are naturally gifted, they didn’t have to work that hard, they just knew, etc. I’ve touched on this subject several times in the past so I’ll keep this brief. If you really think that things were easy or just handed to anyone that has ever made it I suggest you do some research, find a book about someone you look up to, watch a movie or if you can just ask. I guarantee you that they’ve been through, given up and sacrificed more than you could even possibly imagine. It’s something that just comes with achieving your dreams, no matter who you are. It’s why I love watching movies or reading books based on true events, regardless of whether or not the subject is something that I’m in to. Learning about what it took someone to get to where they are at is always an enlightening and inspirational subject.

Back to the steps we can take. Firstly, I would say do what you like if you don’t know yet what it is that you love. Now I’m not saying quit your job and move across the country for something that you just like but it’s something that can open your mind and your heart to what it is that you were meant for. What we need to understand is that it’s a process, a long one. We might not be in the right mental, physical, spiritual place at the moment to even understand or grasp what it is we are looking for. Think of it as you would education. It would be impossible for a child to jump right into college, other than for a select few. You need to build from the ground up, start slow, like anything in life. Doing what you like, following your heart, living the life and making the choices that you know you should starts driving you down a different path, no matter how big or small. It changes your frequency and will ultimately lead you to the road you were meant for. We have to do the same thing once we are on that path and lose our way, which I can guarantee you will happen, more than once. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me. What I know will help get me back to where I was is to take a step back, reset and slowly build back up. This is the same regardless of whether you are just getting started or a veteran in your field. In any endeavor, we don’t necessarily need to be able to see the entirety of it in order to get to where we need. All we need to do is see each next step along the way. Often it’s not until we are at the end of a journey that we can look back and truly understand it all. Think of a car driving across the country in pitch black. You don’t need to be able see all the way to the coast in order not to get lost. Just the few hundred feet in front of you along the way.

The same approach that goes into finding it is the same as what we do once we get there. How are we going to make money, how are we going to live, how are we going to overcome all of these obstacles? Again, if you have to count the costs than just do something else. I can’t tell you what it is or how much you will have to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals. Everyone is different but everyone, without fail, has to make them. If you understand that and it’s worth it to you than keep going. If not it’s best to know ahead of time and don’t even bother.

I know it may be a little disheartening because I can’t give you a magic fix, I can’t tell you how long or what it will take but if you only listen to one thing from me than hear this, it’ll be worth it! The world needs what you have to offer and it needs you at your very best. Too many fall into just being ok, or worse, and I completely understand why. It’s a hell of a lot easier and it may even seem safer. Understand that there is nothing ‘safe’ in this world and none of us are getting out alive. Follow your dreams and pursue your passions because life was meant to be lived!

“Do what you love. At least do what you like until you find out what it is that you love”-me

The end. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

No excuses: My fight edition

No excuses, such a good phrase but really, what does it mean?

We all have them, no matter what, and fall back on them even if we don’t express it to the world. I have never, and will never, use them for my defeats, or victories for that matter. Things happen and it’s on us to use them to build us up or allow them to break us down further.

I definitely didn’t feel like myself in there. There’s a million things I could point to, course there always is, as to the reasons why but regardless, it was on me to make the adjustment and I didn’t. A good lesson and learning experience  for me and I will take this to only make myself that much better in the future.

I really wanted to give a good, motivational speech afterwards but since I didn’t get to here ya go:

I was so close to not even being here tonight. Between all of the injuries and sicknesses I dealt with in training camp, as well as the extremely difficult things I was going through in my personal life. I’m sure every single person on this card tonight could tell you similar stories. What we need to realize is that if there’s something in this life we hope to accomplish, regardless of what, then we are going to have to prove it. Your excuses literally mean nothing. We all have to pay our dues, no matter what. What most tend to forget is the fact that we don’t get to choose when, where and just how often those dues need to be paid. Regardless of what things may look like, no matter how many times you’ve stumbled and fell, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in there. The only thing that differentiates those that make it and those who don’t is in their refusal to quit. So I say to you, regardless of how far away or impossible it may seem, keep going, stay strong and never give up. You can truly accomplish anything in this life that you set your heart and mind to as long as you are willing to make the sacrifices necessary.

Thank you to all of my family, loved ones, friends and all of my fans. To all of my coaches, training partners and every single person in an endless list of people that help me each and every day. I truly love and appreciate you all more than I could ever express. On to the next one! 

-The end

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bellator world title

Haven’t written anything on this fight, guess I just been too busy focusing on training and getting to where I need to be. So many things have been different for this one, and yet so many things the same. On the surface it didn’t seem like I had made all that many adjustments. I still basically went through the same training, diet, etc. yet I’ve never felt better, stronger or faster. This is also the first time that I haven’t had to cut any weight, as in zero, other than the countless times I fought people above my weight class, obviously. I’ve been trying to pin point exactly what it is, particularly since everyone has been asking me what I’ve been doing differently. “Honestly I don’t really know”. I really had to sit down and think about it. I feel, more than anything, that it has to do with just being a lot smarter, really listening to my body and mind, as well as being consistent for a longer period of time. Usually I would just push through regardless of how I felt but this time, if I felt like I needed to rest, I’d rest. If I felt like I needed some more calories or a different type of food, I’d eat. I found that because of this I’d be able to push that much harder when it was time to and more than anything, my body and mind were a lot healthier and functioning better. I’ve pretty much been on weight for the past 2-3 weeks. I kept thinking that my scales were broken or maybe I was just looking at them wrong. I certainly don’t feel small or all that leaned out. Ironically, I actually felt bigger and stronger than ever. I’ve been regularly weighing myself on three different scales just to be sure. It took me almost 15 years but guess I finally got it right. Better late than never I suppose, especially at this stage in my career.

I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about this fight, well about fighting this guy. It’s tough for me, after having spent the majority of my career being the underdog going up against guys, who on paper, I really had no business being in the ring with, to now being on the flip side of that. I never underestimate anyone and actually push myself that much harder for guys like this, but still, you can’t just pretend. Sure, anyone can get caught with anything, but that’s always the case. It’s one thing to stay sharp and ready when you are going in there against someone who you know and have seen them first hand just annihilate other fighters, even at the highest level. Now you are going in there against someone who looks extremely amateurish. No matter what you tell yourself about this guy it’s tough to lie to your brain about what you are actually seeing. There’s just something about when you don’t even have a choice. Although, like everything else, this is just another piece of the puzzle and as long as it’s used correctly will only add to my game.

The weigh ins didn’t make me feel much better about any of this. He looked like a scared little kid to me who was really overcompensating by trying to act tough. Guess we’ll see tomorrow. Fortunatley, this isn’t my first time in this situation. I’m the type of person that tends to fight to my opponents ability, which is a great thing when they are at a higher level. It’s as if when I don’t feel danger I can’t stay sharp. I could only compare it to the difference between some huge animal trying to rip your head off vs a little child. Sure, the kid could poke you in the eye or maybe they have a weapon, but your natural survival instincts aren’t going to kick in the same as they would against someone who you know is going to kill you unless you fight of your life. I look at this as a weakness in myself that I need to fix. We can’t always dictate who we are going to fight or what the circumstances are, and as always anything can happen. What we can do, however, is control how we react in these situations. Take painting for example. Maybe you don’t have the best subject in front of you, maybe the lighting is bad, maybe your paint is all dried up and you now have to use crayons. It’s easy for us to look at our circumstances and say, “Well, if I had the right ‘fill in the blank’ then I’d be able to do this.” What separates the greats from everyone else is their ability to perform regardless of the situation.

I know that I’ve killed myself in preparation for this and am ready anything and everything. As always, I plan on going in there and putting on a show. Regardless of whether or not this is the worst, or best, fighter ever I can still work my game and make it an exciting fight.

It’s so great having Johnny (Reilly) and Benny (Buttons) here, who flew in on Thursday, as well as so many of my family and friends. I never want to let them, or anyone else, down. I’ve worked so hard, killed myself day in a day out, over the past 15 years and given up so much. There’s no way in hell I’m going to let this little kid get in the way of that. Time to go to work…

Well everything went pretty smoothly. I drove up to San Jose on Thursday and checked into our hotel, which was beautiful and just a few minutes drive from the venue, and right on the corner from the Marriot (where the weigh ins, and everything else, would be). I gave Johnny and Benny my room that Bellator had for me there since I wouldn’t be using it. I was feeling great, had a big breakfast before coming up here and I was still only 147. Gina was driving up separately because she had the fan dinner with Fedor and Chandler later on in the evening. I had to go over to the hotel to do a photoshoot as well as sign a bunch of things for the fight. I got to do some pics with the belt, which was so beautiful, I didn’t want to let it go. Two more days and it will be mine, guess I can wait. Knocked the photos out real quick, which was a much better experience considering I wasn’t cutting any weight. After that I had to sign about ten million posters and a few pairs of gloves for Bellator. I have no idea what they do with all of these. Fortunately, I noticed that Raymond Daniels signed them with just his initials, which was the best idea ever and saved me about two hours haha. Last time I was signing them all with my full name and by the end it was just a squiggly line. Got to check my weight on the official scale, which was almost the exact same weight as the one I brought so that made things easier. Was still at 147. Met up with Johnny and Benny after that. It was so great seeing them. Hadn’t seen Johnny since I went over to Amsterdam to shoot the film we did earlier last year, which you can check out here, and it was my first time meeting Benny. We walked over to my hotel and hung out for a bit. Took a few photos and just caught up talking for a while. Gina finally showed up and they all got to meet, which was really great. They hit it off, as I knew they would. Gina and Johnny just started laughing when they saw each other. It was if they’d known each other for years. We all got to talking and the hours just ticked by. Gina actually ended up running late to the dinner, as we’d lost track of time. They ended up calling to find out where she was so she finally had to run. Said goodbye to her, as well as Johnny and Benny, and then I stretched out for a while. It was a strange feeling because normally I’d be cutting weight at that point, even if it was just a little, so my body and mind would be feeling a lot differently. It was as if I needed to keep reminding myself that I’m fighting in two days. Strange! I took an Epsom bath after that. It was more to make my body feel better and help relax me so I could sleep than anything else. I ended up weighing 143 when I got out, which was a nice, unexpected gift, so I got to have some dinner and even a few of the protein pancakes I had made this morning and brought with me. Yum! Gina came back later with Artem (Sharoshkin) and Hans (Molenkamp), who were at the dinner as well. We all hung out talking for a while. It was really great getting to hang with them all for a bit. I was feeling so relaxed but there’s always a question of whether or not I’m too relaxed.

Got a great night sleep. Woke up at 7:30am and checked my weight, just in case. 144.2 (my fight is at 145). Now, as much as I knew that my scale was the same as the official one and I should be under, you just never know. I had a sip of Pedialyte and just left it at that. I lay back down for a bit then we got up at 8:30 and walked over to the Marriot. Johnny and Benny met us in the lobby and we all went up to the 3rd floor, which is where everything had been yesterday. Gaston, who was already there waiting, looking pretty sucked up, as were a few others. Jorina Baars came over, said hi and got a picture with Gina, who she seemed super excited to meet. I told Gaston that I got to have protein pancakes with sun butter for dinner. “Son of a!!!”  Hahahaha, I started cracking up. They were going to weigh us in according to when we showed up, which looked like I was around 8th in line or so. Right at 9am they started calling us over to the next room one at a time. They had the scale set up in front of this big Bellator banner and a few commission people sitting at a table in front of that. Finally, it was my turn, 144.3, easy! Walked over to finish up some paper work and got my wrist band. It dawned on me that this was the first time I didn’t immediately start rehydrating the second I got off the scale. This was great! I planned on going back to the room to rest, get fluids in me and then get something to eat later on. We said our goodbyes to everyone and started walking, ran into a few fans wanting pics with Gina and I. Talked to them a bit and then started walking to our hotel. Gina was hungry and hadn’t had any breakfast yet so I said we could just go get some food now, get it to go and then I’d probably eat mine later on. We walked around the corner to this crepe place and she ordered about 4 meals, just in case haha. We ran into Paul Daley’s coach as well as a few other fighters. Seemed like this was the spot to be at. I couldn’t wait to get back in bed. Finally, the food came out, said bye to everyone and we walked back to our hotel. It all looked so good that I just decided to eat then. Made a plate with a little bit of everything, as well as a few more protein pancakes. So good!

The ‘show’ weigh ins weren’t until 4 so we had a few hours to relax. I passed out for a bit and then just rested in bed for a few hours. Got up around 3ish and drove over to the SAP Center, where the weigh ins as well as the fight would be, with Johnny and Benny. Gina and my mom were going to meet us there.

One of the best parts about having the two weigh ins is that they wait till the second one to do all the mindless BS like the rules meeting. Usually they would do this while we are all dehydrated and dying waiting to get on the scale. I get so annoyed at these things, even when I’m not cutting weight. They talk down to us as if we are a bunch of kindergartners that have never done this before. It’s what happens when you give some people a little bit of power. Surprised none of them have ever been beaten down, although Joe (Schilling) did get pretty close on the U.S.A. vs Thailand card. On that one the commission people showed up 2 hours late, which tends to be the norm, and the entire process, from when we had to be there to when they finally let us weigh in, took over 5 hours. I don’t think they realize that they are dealing not only with fighters but fighters that are basically temporarily insane. Maybe now is not the best time to mess with them. I’m so glad that they are finally making some changes, for everyone’s sake.

Watching the commissioner basically try and mimic the legal and illegal moves is one of the funniest things to witness. You can really tell that he’s never fought in his entire life, which you’d think would be a requirement. Gaston was there looking much better than he had been in the morning. The whole thing went relatively quickly. I spent most of the time hanging out and catching up with everyone that I hadn’t seen in forever. Finally, they had us all line up and get ready to get on the scales. We waited behind the curtain as they called us out. I finally got to see my opponent, who seemed to really be overcompensating his fear by acting tough, which I found pretty humorous. I wanted to tell him, “Just relax man, we ain’t fighting till tomorrow. Trying to act hard right now isn’t going to change anything.” They ended up putting us at the back of the line. Guess we’re the main event now. Kirian told me that they probably realized how dumb it was not having us as the main considering that this was basically my hometown. “Are they gona make a new poster then?”, I jokingly asked. They called my opponent out and then me. We were allowed to keep our pants on and just go out shirtless, which was a  nice change. They had us face off after we both got off the scale. Finally got to look him in the eyes. I could tell he was afraid but that also probably meant he knew he was going to have to have the fight of his life. I’m ready for anything! Afterwards we waited for Gaston to weigh in, as they had done the kickboxing fighters first then MMA even though we are actually fighting after them, then Gina drove Johnny, Benny, my mom and I over to where I had parked. I took Benny and Johnny with me back to hotel. We hung out for a bit and then my sister came up with her kids up, they’d all flown in earlier. I told them we could all hang for an hour but then I had to kick everyone out so I could eat and have some peace in order to get my mind right. It was really great seeing everyone and getting to spend time them all but it was a lot having all that energy bouncing off the walls. Finally, I kicked everyone out. I had ordered some sushi, salad and sweet potatoe fries from the restaurant downstairs right before they had left. Gina’s cousin and her boyfriend, as well as Jason and Christy (her sister and brother in law), who were staying in the same hotel, came up to say hello real quick. After that Gina went with all of them to have dinner. I just sat in bed with my giant plate of food and relaxed. Rested. I had originally asked Gina to bring me back something from where they were having dinner but she didn’t get back till really late and I was stuffed anyway. You always have this urgency in your mind that you need to get back in as many calories as you can, regardless of how much weight you cut, or didn’t. It’s tough because normally you’d go off of whether or not you are hungry but now you know you’ve been limiting yourself so much that you’re trying to replenish. It’s a tough balancing act. You don’t want to force a bunch of food down that your body isn’t used to and is going to have to expend extra energy to digest.  My brother, his girlfriend and their son all had been driving down from Oregon. They were about half way when his car started acting up. They didn’t want to risk it breaking down in the middle of nowhere so ended up turning back around and going home. They were all really bummed about it, as was I. I was just glad that they were all safe and told him not to worry. It’s tough though since I hardly ever fight in the states, particularly this close to them.

I ended up getting a really good nights sleep and was feeling great. Tried to sleep in as much as possible because I knew I wouldn’t be fighting till after 10pm but still woke up around 9. Leading up to this, well just this past week, I had been adjusting my training so that I’d get used to going on late, although I really don’t think it’s going to make any difference. It’s not as if there’s a point in the day when I feel all that much better compared to any other time. When it’s time to work I work, that’s it. I once had to fight at 2am in Mexico, good times!

I just ordered a big breakfast and went back to bed. Johnny came up with Benny around 4 and ran me through a real nice stretching session. Felt a lot better after that. We watched Gaston’s fight, which was streaming on the internet. He got choked out and put to sleep but had shown a lot of heart. It was really tough to watch. I got pretty emotional, as did Gina. I wasn’t sure what to get for lunch, didn’t really want sushi again. I had originally wanted some chicken with a bit of pasta on the side but I couldn’t find anywhere that looked good or had all the things I wanted. Ended up just ordering a wedge salad from room service and this chicken teriyaki bowl. I had asked them to put the sauce on the side but it was drenched and then they had extra sauce on the side. It looked so greasy and nasty, had a few bites but was worried about it upsetting my stomach. Not even worth it! I wasn’t even all that hungry anyway but I knew that I wouldn’t be fighting till late so didn’t want to risk being hungry. Ate most of the salad and then I brought a protein bar and some pancakes with me just case.

I needed to be at the venue by 7, even though the kickboxing portion didn’t even start till 9. Gina was downstairs still hanging with her family and Benny and Johnny. We had all planned on driving together but time was ticking by and I still hadn’t heard back from her. I was trying to figure out if I should drive myself or just uber. Finally she got back to me and told me to meet them at the valet at 7. Got all my stuff together and headed down. I’d packed my nice suit for the press conference, which would be after the fight, which I’m sure would be around midnight ha. We all crammed into Gina’s car and were finally on our way. When we got there the place was packed and we couldn’t find any parking. Eventually she dropped us off near the entrance and went to find a spot. Joe (Schilling) had sent me this amazing motivational video and I was literally standing there watching it, speechless with tears coming down my cheeks. It was powerful! Gina rolls up and we walk down. She could see how emotional I was, which gets her emotional which in turn makes me that much more emotional ha. It’s a viscious cycle! We make our way down to the back gate, inside through the back of the arena and find my changing room, which we were sharing with Jorina, Ghaji, Jose, Joe and a few others. Dropped all my stuff off and hit the bathroom. My stomach had been bubbling a bit but nowhere near as bad as usual. Chaz was there all dressed up in a suit, didn’t even recognize him. The commission came by and asked if I was ready to do my drug test. I had just gone to the bathroom so told them I’d wait, as I pounded water. I always get so worried that I won’t fill it up so never want to risk it till I know I have to go. When I had  my rematch with KangEn, back in like 2009, I got tested after the fight and didn’t end up filling it up enough and then had to wait for a few hours till I had drank enough water to go to the bathroom again. It was horrible, we didn’t get out of there till after midnight. Never want that to happen again.

They took me into the back room where the bathroom was. I ran into Gina, who was in the room next to it doing an interview with that British guy I had done one with yesterday. I had planned on just saying hi really quick so she could finish up but he ended up interviewing us both. We both ended up getting pretty everwhelmed with emotion. Her dad was back there as well. Was good to see him. He seemed nervous for me. The guy giving me the test was all over the place. Seemed as if he’d never done it before. Tried to get an idea of when I’d be fighting. Seemed around 10:30. Stretched out, was feeling loose. Jose was first, Jorina, Joe, Ghaji then me. Finally at 9 the televised card starts, they apparently had a ton of trouble getting the ring up so Jorina was actually out there waiting for quite a while. She won, Jose lost, Joe smashed his guy out and then Raymond Daniels split Ghaji in the first minute and they stopped it. I was feeling great. Had a really perfect warm up with Kirian. Felt super sharp, fast and knew what I needed to do. Chaz moved around with me a bit. He had a few drinks in him so a few times he got a little too excited. Definitley no nerves. Did my best to amp myself up but it was tough. There was so much riding on this and it really was a lose, lose situation for me. Kept my hoodie on so I’d stay warm. They finally came and got us and Kirian, Chaz, Jongsanan and myself walked through the back to the waiting area. Chaz had tied my cup and arm bands and I was wearing my signature walk out shirt and rosary, had my triumph sweatshirt over that but finally took it off. Took a moment to myself against the back wall then that old familiar smile came over me. Couldn’t wait. They tell me it’s time, had to say my goodbyes to everyone for a moment as they would meet me at the ring. Got pretty emotional then walked up to the holding spot. My music start, Die Antwoord ‘Enter the ninja’ and the crowd goes crazy as I walk out. Made my way down the walk ramp, there was great energy in the air and I was feeling really good, calm. Tried to just stay focused at the task at hand yet still enjoy the moment. Got to the edge of the rind, kneeled down by the stairs and said a final prayer. Hoped the ropes, bowed to everyone and Kirian and Chaz got my banner up in the corner. I did notice how small the ring was. They announced Domenico first. He still had that same look on his face that he’d had yesterday accept now the anger was gone and he just looked nervous, however ready. They announced me, I made a circle acknowledging the crowd and went back to the corner. They took the banner down, shirt off, gave me my mouth piece and the ref brought us together. Tapped him on the gloves, went back to corner, everyone gave me their last advice, take your time, feel him out, etc. Said one final prayer. Ding ding.

-the ref had a meeting with me in the back final rules, wasn’t too excited that he’d be my ref but whatever. Realized they were gona let the clinch go a lot, probably shoulda focused on that more. Ah well.

-Didn’t feel good in there, wasn’t fun, defintley felt like work, lose lose situation. He was super awkward, hard to get in a rhythm, kneed me in the balls so hard, didn’t wana take time cause was only getting worse. Won split decision, which was crazy thinking one judge had him winning, gota see it to get my opinion, although it was competitive I didn’t’ feel that it was close in any way. Was worried Gina wasn’t going to be happy as I could hear her yelling at me the whole fight, could pick her voice out over anyone. She was so happy and hugged me as I got out the ring. I was worried that it was a crappy fight but the fans seemed excited. I did feel accomplished and knew I’d put myself in the best position possible, was just tough having to have business take the front seat to passion but it was what needed to be done.

Looking back I realize that I don’t even feel like I fought. I think it was because this was more of a work/business fight than anything else. I just wasn’t having fun in there, didn’t let go and wasn’t free. I had to be too safe cuz there was so much on the line. Every fight has pressure and every fight I go in there to give it my all. This one had so many levels of things. I sure as hell couldn’t lose to this guy, particularly at this stage in my career. If I would have lost who the hell knows what would have happened. This was the first time I’ve fought in front of all my friends and family, at least in that amount, in forever. Fighting for the first ever feather weight world title, fighting at home for the first time in almost 10 years, fighting a young and hungry inexperienced guy. Not to mention having Johnny, Benny and Jeff out here filming the whole thing for projects we’re working on…holy hell. It’s a good thing I didn’t have all these things going through my head prior to this fight. I always put more pressure on myself than any of that could anyway but still, I definitely didn’t think of all the different levels this was on. I was talking to Joe afterwards about this and he gave me a good perspective. He said regardless of what you think about your opponent you have spent the last 15 years getting yourself into this position. You’ve done the work and earned it. You dictate what that title means. Not the person standing across from you. That made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. Ironically it was the exact same speech that I had given KY when he was fighting Mark Holst for his title shot. The fight and everything else really went as good as it could have. If I would have just walked right through him that definitely wouldn’t have looked good in a lot of ways. The fact that it was competitive really was the best for everyone.

On to the next one!

-The end

Friday, September 15, 2017

what if

What if…

What if I fail, what if I’m not good enough, what if I’m too old, too young, too fat, too skinny and the list goes on and on forever. We all have our fears, our insecurities, our doubts, our reasons why we can’t do something. We often look at those who have made it and assume that things just came easy to them. “They were born that way, naturally gifted; if I had…fill in the blank…I could have made it too.”

‘What if?’ one of the worst things to ever look back on your life and have to ask. I would rather fail and know the answer than to always wonder. That’s the kind of question that will haunt you until the end of time.

Courage only comes from facing something that you are afraid of and going forward anyway, not the other way around. Stop making excuses, either go for it or don’t and if you really have something in your life that’s more important than that’s ok too. However, realize that’s what you’re doing, prioritizing, because if you wanted it you would find a way. Sure, there’s always exceptions, but I’d say the majority of the time we just use that as an excuse instead of it being the actual reason we can’t achieve something.

What if? What if you make it, what if what you do changes the world or inspires someone else who is going to? The world needs you to follow your heart and accomplish your dreams. It’s not only important, it’s necessary!  

-the end

Friday, September 1, 2017

No excuses

No excuses! It’s easy to say and makes for an even better hashtag but unfortunately, we all have them. We all have something that we can point to as the reason we cannot accomplish something or why we don’t even try. I guarantee you that everyone single person that you look at as having the things you want has had, and probably still does, every reason not to make it as you do. Having an excuse does not make you special or unique. What are you going to do anyway, does. I find we tend to either look at our own life and say, “Poor me” or we look at others and assume they just had it easy. “They don’t have to deal with what I do!” Ya, you are probably right, they don’t but maybe what they have had to overcome was 100 times more difficult than whatever excuse you are telling yourself. You really have no idea what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes particularly someone who doesn’t run around complaining about every little thing they have to deal with. “They are just naturally gifted, they were born this way, they’re lucky, they started early, they don’t hate running as much as I do, they have all their limbs, they didn’t stub their toe, and so on and so forth. If you want something badly enough then you are going to have to damn well prove it and continue proving it over and over and over again. No one cares about your reasons or feels pity for you. Go out there and show everyone what you can do despite all of your limitations and excuses. Without struggle there can be no growth so be grateful for every obstacle in your way. Either you use them to build and strengthen you or you let them break you down and give you reasons to quit. The choice will always be yours.

-The end  

Thursday, August 31, 2017


We live in an age of instant gratification thanks to, or no thanks to depending on your take, social media, where everyone seems to continually be patting themselves on the back. It’s the “look at me” era. Anyone with a smart phone can make themselves feel superior with a few likes and followers. “Insta famous!” I’m not trying to sit here and tell people what’s right or wrong however, when you’re focused more on what you appear to be on the internet as opposed to actually putting in the work you need to do in order to be the best, this is a problem. Now, if all you really care about is the public front you put on then go for it, but if your goal is actually to be the best then it’s time to put the phone down, shut your mouth and get back to work.

I have always been of the mindset that nothing is ever good enough. That’s not to say I’m not grateful and appreciative for the things that I’ve been able to accomplish. What it means is that no matter what I do I know that there is always room for more growth. I can always improve. There is no finish line until you take that last breath. Until then, there will always be new mountains to climb.

Some might take this as being too hard on yourself but I find that to be one of the biggest reasons for mediocrity. We have literally set the bar so low these days that it’s actually on the floor. I see people who win a few fights or titles, particularly at the lower level, and they parade themselves around as if they are now one if the greatest to ever step foot in the ring. Sure, if you compare yourself to where you used to be or to people that haven’t done what you have then yea, I can see how one might think that. For me, however, I’ve always set my sights on being one of the best to ever do it, and in that aspect, there’s always more to be done. It’s the big fish in a small pond problem, which Damien Trainor has a nice write up on his blog that you can check out here (although it's touching on a slightly separate topic but still a great read). I think some of us forget just how big this world is. Do you want to be the best on your block or the best ever? Anyone can be the best in the gym, the best in their city, state, etc., but if you think you are ever going to really achieve greatness then you had better set you sets higher. It is easy to look back and say, “Well in my day people just had a different mindset.” Yes and no. People definitely did but that’s also because it wasn’t as easy to pretend you were something you weren’t back then, although there were still those that did. There always has been, and always will be, those that are more concerned with what they appear to be rather than what they really are.

It’s difficult for me to look back on my career and have any kind of ego about it. Sure, I have done a lot, but my eyes remain focused on what else I can do, not on what I have already accomplished. Maybe when I retire, I will be able to take a step back and really enjoy it but until then I will continually be trying to improve, set new bars and better myself.

I look at it like this, it is literally impossible to be 100% perfect in anything you do so in that sense, no matter how good you get, you can always get better. Even if you have ‘perfected’ something, it does not just stay sharp forever. You need to be continually perfecting every weapon you have. The problem is that there are so many and once you start getting one thing down the others start to dull. It is a constant juggling act.  

We need to strive daily to not only be better than we were, but to be the best ever. This goes for every aspect of life.

-The End

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

flu fight

When you have nothing left, the walls are closing in around you and your opponent is going in for the kill. Even when there is seemingly no hope left, you still always have a choice to make. Give up or keep fighting until your last breath. There will be times when you can do everything perfectly yet you still don’t end up with the result you want, just as the opposite is true.

I have been plagued with just about every injury and illness you can imagine throughout my career. This one, however, was without a doubt the most difficult to get through. A broken hand or a huge gash, or 7 :P is easy, it’s just pain. When your entire body shuts down and you feel like you are being held down underwater is another story all together.

Everything had gone perfect in the lead up to my fight with Bernie Mendieta. Training went great, I wasn’t dealing with any injuries and easily made weight. Had one of the best warm ups in the back before walking out. Super sharp, fast and ready to go. I should have known better seeing as how over 90% of my career I’ve had to overcome at least one kind of hurdle or another but I thought to myself, “Hey, I’ve been through enough, maybe I finally get a break.”…wrong! I actually had dealt with a bit of a health issue leading up to this fight. Seemed like I was coming down with a cold for a bit but I refused to let it get me and just told myself it was allergies. It never got to be more than just the occasional fatigue and stuffed up nose, so I didn’t think too much about it. They finally called my name and then brought us down to the back where we waited for them to announce me. Time starts ticking by, longer and longer we wait, and with each passing moment I’m feeling the energy, and life, start to slip out of my body. Kirian takes a look at me and shouts, “Hey man you good, let’s get ready to go!” trying to get my energy back up and get me focused. I hop around a bit, shake my arms out and then they finally call my name. Everything seems fine and I go out there and have a great first round. I sit down in the corner after the first round and it was as if the Grim Reaper ripped the life out of me. My lungs felt as if they were drowning in sand, I couldn’t breathe and my body was paralyzed with exhaustion. What the hell? “Great man, keep doing what you’re doing, stay sharp, and pick your shots. Let’s start to put a little more pressure on him this round. How you feeling?” Kirian asks. I hesitate for a moment. This was only my second fight after my ACL surgery. In my first fight back I was smashing my ankles and feet up so badly because my distance and timing weren’t on point yet. I was in agony and could barely walk. Afterwards Kirian asked why I hadn’t let him know what was going on during the fight. “What am I gona do? Complain and say ow my feet hurt?” I ask. “Of course not, but you gota let me know what’s going on with you so I can help make the adjustments if we can.”, he replies.

“How you feeling?”…I pause a moment, “Tired!” “Tired?” he asks in shocking disbelief. He kind of pauses a moment, regroups and then goes on to give some advice for the next round. I remember it as clear as day, I was sitting in that corner thinking to myself, “How am I going to get through this? There’s just no way! What would happen if I just got out of the ring and left? I wonder if anyone has ever done that.” In that moment I had a choice to make, quit or stand up and get back in there even though I knew there was no possible way I could do this.

I’ve had several moments similar to this throughout my career, whether during fights or the training leading up to them. I could just give up right now, totally understandable and no one would blame me…screw that!!! I would rather give everything I have and fail than to just quit. Even if the only thing I have left is to just stand there and get pummeled.  

It’s times like these that you look back overall the struggles throughout the years and you realize what all those tough times taught you. Every moment of every day, we have opportunities to learn, grow and to make choices that will either strengthen our will or weaken our resolve. That’s when you learn training is more than just getting your body ready for a fight; it’s about getting your mind where it needs to be. It needs to learn that there is no quit in you. Do you think it will just magically happen when you really need it? No, you have to train it as much and as often as possible so when the time comes it will not even be a conscious decision.

Back to the fight…I made the decision, went out there and pushed it as hard as I could every second of every round. It wasn’t pretty and I’m sure the people that watching were wondering what the hell was wrong with me but I pushed through. One of the most difficult parts was the knowledge that with every strike I threw, every single movement, dropped the limited life I had left in me that much more. Again, it was a choice I had to make; either sit there and let him beat on me, which I knew I could do for five rounds, or give it everything I had even if that was only a fraction of a percent of my normal ability. Fortunately, I was able to edge out a close decision, which at the time and looking back I had thought I’d done enough to win. When we got to the back for the post fight medicals, my body literally started shutting down. My temperature was soaring; my head and body were on fire. My lungs were caving in and I could not stop coughing. I felt close to death. It took everything I had to make it through that fight and I paid the price for it as over the next 3 months I fought off bronchitis and pneumonia, which is what I had at the time and did not realize. I’m sure that fight took a few years off my life but in comparison to what quitting would have taken out of my soul I’d happily do it all over again.

I find that too often people seem to train as if everything is going to go right. I, on the other hand, have always had the opposite perspective. Of course, mentally I don’t go into a fight thinking that everything will go wrong but I train in such a way that even if it does, I will be prepared. If you want to be the best then you need to get yourself to where even if you are at 10% it is still better than someone else’s 100%.

-The end

Here is the fight if you want to check it out