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Man Vs. Time

Writing a blog is easy, finding time to do that writing is the hard part. But I have my work done for the morning and I’m not training (more on that later) so I have 30 minutes to write now. It’s been a hectic few weeks and we have a hectic few more coming up too so I’ve lots to update.

Firstly the IPMMA fight team was in action over the last couple of weekends. We held our own amateur show in the gym and had a few guys in. Dylan and Joe both lost by submission in their bouts but did well, Conor won by TKO in the third round of his fight after dominating the stand up, and Anesh won by decision in a pretty one-sided fight. I like the rules and the format of this show. It’s a relaxed day for the fans and coaches, and is actually comparatively relaxed for the fighters too. I don’t like to put young guys or first timers into big shows where the pressure to win is large. Often you have at least 10 people coming to see you who might have spent a lot of money on the tickets, and they’re sitting among 500 other people. I think that’s too much pressure for a first time fighter in the vast majority of cases. Sure some guys can handle it, but I think it’s fair to say that there’s a huge amount of ex-fighters with a 1 fight, 1 loss record out there having been beaten in their first bout in front of their mates. In the IACC shows, there’s about 100 people in to watch, often less, and they’re paying buttons to come and see you (an under 18 admission costs just a fiver, an adult only twice that). The equipment you wear gives it even more of an amateur feel. Suffice to say I like this show, but I also like the MMA League, run by my mate Mark Leonard which I think is a great tournament for teenagers in particular. I also think people should do more grappling tournaments before fighting, even if your intention is to do solely MMA.

I’d actually just settle for guys having better boxing, wrestling and BJJ before they entered their first fight though.

Going to fight shows is, for me, a mixed bag. Firstly I haven’t been idle at an MMA show since 2004, the UFC in Dublin excepted. I usually have some role or other as coach, second in a corner for someone else, or judge. I enjoy seeing fights for free, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a little frustrating sometimes to watch novice fights and to see poor technique. I know that sounds like snobbery. It’s not. It’s just a little hard to watch sometimes.

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We also had a good night out at Battlezone 2 in Dublin 4. man what a strange experience it was to walk into a D4 hotel wearing a tracksuit and not be asked politely to leave. I guess NAMA has lower standards than the previous owners. Let me tell you in all honesty whenever I’ve fought I’ve never really been nervous. Maybe in the hour or two before a fight but rarely in the weeks leading up to it. But when one of my guys is fighting, well, that’s a different story. I think constantly about the fight, about the gameplan, about whether we’ve spent enough time drilling one thing or another. I have nightmares of guys coming out and throwing one punch and knocking my guy out, of them not doing enough to impress judges and countless other things. It’s different being outside the cage, not being in control of anything that happens inside and hoping that your guy can hear you (in fairness, never really a problem with my voice) and that if he can, that your instructions will pay off.

Anesh and Grant weren’t perfect at Battlezone, but they did enough right to win their fights pretty comprehensively. This was a great show to be involved in, from the way we were treated beforehand right through to the respect we were given afterwards by the promoters and fans. It’s a show run by fighters for fighters. I’m going to get my guys on the next one in June, which will be right after my show on May 20th.

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You already know this, but let’s hear it again anyway. If you want success, you need to work at it. Not just by showing up, and not just by working hard, but by showing up and working hard every time. It’s no accident that Anesh was able to recover from being knocked on his arse in the first round of his fight to go on to dominate and win, and it’s no accident that Grant was able to hit his single leg takedown every time he got the opportunity to. It’s training. Training 6 days a week, often twice a day. It’s drilling technique; not just a few times but as many as time allows. It’s the hard yards of sparring and the learning of new techniques and the erasing of bad habits. The ironing out of mistakes and the mental strength to keep training. More than all of these things though, it comes down to something very simple; owning a watch.

I once asked a noted coach (I won’t namedrop but I was lucky enough to meet a boxing legend once for 3 minutes) what he thought the most important thing a fighter needed was and his answer was “a wristwatch”. He smiled at me and I could tell he’d given this answer before. I suppose he got two responses to that answer. Either people looked at him blankly and asked what he meant, or they understood instantly. I like to think I understood, and it’s been a saying of mine for a few years now since I heard it.

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I also did my regular commentary gig for Cage Contender last night. I had the mother and father of all headaches but I managed to get through it with the help of my regular partner Stuart McQuitty and a celebrity guest Ian “The Machine” Freeman. Ian is a sound guy, a really nice bloke. Leaving aside the fact that he was a great fighter, he knows the game inside out and it was great to ask his opinion on some of the positions while we were commentating. I meant to get a decent photo with him but we did a pretty funny one where Will is shoving him out of the way to get a photo with me.

And last night I’m sorry to say that Amanda lost to a very tough (and much larger) American opponent in Chicago. I’m told that she fought hard but was just overpowered by her opponent who caught her in a sub midway through the 1st round. That’s Amanda’s first ever loss but she’ll be back in the gym come Monday. She took this on 4 week’s notice after a 3 month injury layoff, it was just too good an opportunity to miss, but no excuses, she was in great condition heading out there and she did us proud. Hard luck to IP’s hardest working fighter.

Oh yeah, I’m off the mats for a little while with a back injury. Apparently thi
s vital piece of my anatomy called my spine is a little damaged, and it’s been causing my left hand not to work properly for some time. I’ve little bit of a nervous impingement but I’m 2 weeks into a 4 week layoff now and besides the usual frustration of being out, I’m actually fairly happy to finally have a good diagnosis of something that, if I’m honest, has been bothering me for a few years now. I’m doing what I’m told, doing my rehab and not rolling. I’m going to try to be good this time, get it right again and then come back slowly into contact training.

Photos on today’s blog are from MMA Kaptured’s catalogue of Grant’s Battlezone fight. Enjoy!

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