There are 2 fights I’m awaiting with great anticipation – the amazing Anderson Silva (still undefeated in the UFC) on 10/13/2012 when he squares off with the “tough as nails” (there are no wimps in the UFC, but Bonner uses his face to ward off punches and won’t stop fighting until: a. you kill him or b. mercifully the ref stops it) and the other is between Georges St. Pierre (pound for pound, in my opinion the greatest all-around fighter to have ever stepped into the cage) and Gary Condit. Georges St. Pierre (22 – 2) hasn’t lost a fight since April of 2007 when the MMA world was shocked (to use a baseball analogy, it was not unlike Bobby Thompson’s HR 10/3/1951) when MY former instructor and all – around GREAT guy, Matt Serra knocked him out in the first round. I was talking to Matt the week before and I asked him if he was nervous, and he told me that he feels butterflies the night before, but the day of the fight he’s “psyched” and can’t wait to get it on.
The title of my blog suggests ambivalence to the sport (Senator John McCain called it human cockfighting in the 1990s and wanted it banned. Sorry Mr. McCain, you’re a war hero and I have all the respect in the world for you, but MMA is mainstream now, and is here to stay – thanks in part to the former boxer/President of UFC and spirited, Dana White). The Gracie family introduced Ultimate Fighting to the United States and Brazilian Jiu – jitsu became the hottest and most practical martial art after UFC 1. Joyce Gracie, 175 lbs., was the toughest man on the planet (except for other members of his very large family) and it didn’t matter if you could bench press a truck; strength had very little to do with fighting back then, and the gentle but prodigiously effective art had arrived and transformed the Gracies from a poverty-stricken Portuguese speaking family to a multi – million dollar dynasty.
I’ll conclude this blog with my personal involvement with the sport of MMA. I had always been interested in fighting as a kid, I wrestled in HS (sadly, I was a late bloomer and not not very good, but I tried) and took up Kung – Fu (Kung Fu with David Carradine was my favorite show) and Kempo Karate. In 2004, I finally, with a little trepidation took up the sport of mixed martial arts, practicing Brazilian Jiu – Jitsu at Matt Serra’s academy and studying wrestling, boxing, and Mauy – Thai at Ray Longo’s and other gyms. To be honest, I was not very good except for boxing (I’m sure I had the hardest punch in the gym but the aforementioned does not make you a great boxer, though my private instructor maintained I had very good instincts) and not to make excuses, I was in my 40s and the young guys were just quicker and had more stamina (yes I lost whole lot more than I won). Still, at the age of 42, I had these very quick hands and as I said earlier, if I connected, it was lights for you, end of story. To cut to the chase, I never entered a tournament, but I sparred in the gym, and here comes the hate part of story. Yes, MMA is fun, character – building, a beautiful art, and as we fighters liked to call it, a physical chess match. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I think my opponent just happened to graze my left eye – I wasn’t knocked out and I finished the fight and felt fine. Two days later, I was slowly starting to lose my vision from my left eye. If I closed my right eye, I couldn’t see my nose if I looked to my right and when I say it was dark, it was dark – SCARY DARK. I left work immediately, saw an Ophthalmologist, and got the bad news. “Mike, you have a detached retina and we have to perform emergency surgery.” I elected to go with the easy procedure, the laser retinopexy.
Well, the operation was a success and I got my vision back completely in two months. Afterwards, I made a very stupid decision – I went back to MMA; what can I say I was ADDICTED ! I couldn’t stop, even though I was 42, was going nowhere with sport, the truth be told, MMA WAS IN MY BLOOD. My rationale was, okay no boxing, I’ll just stick to wrestling and Jiu – jitsu. Stupid, stupid, stupid and STUPID ! Suffice to say, I was in the the hospital again, and this time it was MAJOR retinal surgery (I won’t go into detail, but essentially they took my eyeball out and stitched the retina back on) and unlike the easy laser treatment; I was under, so I didn’t feel any pain during the operation nor did I feel much pain when I got home (Oxycodone works). However, the next day, still blind as a bat in the left eye, and WOW, EXCRUCIATING PAIN !!!! It was a combination of incredible soreness and pressure. It was so uncomfortable, plus I had to lay on my right side for 6 weeks (I watched a lot movies).
Fast – forward, it’s 2012 and I’m fine. I still have a little blurriness in my left eye and always have to worry about retinal detachment (for both eyes, my retina in my right eye is thin) but I’m very lucky. So there you have it – WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think? I sensibly quit after my second surgery and I stick to weightlifting and Tai –Chi to stay in shape. My position is I still love the sport but I hate the violence (if that makes sense) plus the deleterious effects one may suffer from blows to the head. I also think that because, I am near-sighted, I was more susceptible for this thing to happen. Lastly, I have never met nicer people in my life than the fighters. One might think that they’re violent, etc. but nothing can be further from the truth. MMA fighters are incredible men with character who possess these incredible skills and are second to none in terms of being phenomenal athletes. Another misconception is one might think they take it out on the streets –WRONG, only punks and insecure losers street fight. But, just to be on the safe side, I don’t think it would be wise to say anything derogatory to Randy Couture’s wife – lol. I hope everyone enjoyed my little story.