Going into Ring of Combat 17 I was tired – both physically and mentally. MMA Competition is an exhilarating experience. You are in a high pressure situation and your skills, abilities and mental toughness are put on display for the whole world to see. You train hard and prepare yourself physically to the point that you’re in peak condition, but in a way you are never more vulnerable.
In 2007 I was 23 years old and ready to take one the world, I felt like I was the toughest man in Dutchess County. I started my competitive run in the spring in Ring of Combat. I took on BJJ Black Belt Carmine Zocchi at 170 pounds. I usually fought at 155 but after multiple opponents dropped out I decided to step up in weight in order to have an opponent. I used my smaller stature to my advantage by utilizing speed in transitions to lock in a first round submission. Two months later on a whim I hopped into a 200 pound pro grappling tournament, once again going up in weight for the chance to compete. I grappled through some tough guys taking 2nd in the division. A few short weeks later I was back on the mat winning a grappling superfight at the Diamond State games. All this grappling was really just while I waited for a promoter to offer me a fight. My opportunity came when I was invited to fight at Ring of Combat 15 in September. The fight was in Atlantic City, a long way from Dutchess County. An intense and grueling training camp resulted in an easy victory. A 32 second first round submission made a big impression. With back to back submission wins in the organization I was now going to be fighting for the title at Ring of Combat 17 and a potential $13,000 purse.
The problem was that the non-stop competition was starting to catch up with me. Aches and pains mixed with mental fatigue and anxiety about the coming fight. A few days before the fight I started having trouble catching my breath, I would go into a fit of coughing any time I raised my heart rate. Sure enough, I had bronchitis.
Warming up for the fight I grappled lightly with my friend for all of 5 minutes and it left me completely exhausted. I knew my conditioning wouldn’t hold up for a 15 minute fight. The last thing I wanted was to drive back to Dutchess County with a loss.
Climbing into the ring I tried to project an air of confidence when in reality I was scared to death. My opponent was also riding a winning streak, undefeated in his career. He looked like a walking ball of muscle. The one comforting thought I had as the bell sounded was “At least it will be over soon.”
I fired one punch and he immediately clinched and threw me to the ground. I threw up a submission and he slammed me like a pitbull playing with a chew toy. Then, for just a second he made his mistake. He left one of his arms in my guard. I quickly seized the opportunity and slapped on my triangle choke, a move that has saved me more times than I can remember. He tried to slam his way out, but this time I was ready and hooked his leg to avoid being picked up.
Three taps later and I was $13,000 richer.
The real satisfaction wasn’t in the money or the title though - it was knowing that at my most vulnerable, at my weakest, my training was there for me. This had been my toughest crucible yet and my jiu-jitsu guided me through.
If you live in Dutchess County and dream of one day being an MMA champion check out Precision MMA’s 30 Day Free Trial call 845-392-8495 or visit http://www.poughkeepsiemixedmartialarts.com.