Slowly sipping electrolyte-rich sports drinks, for that was all my ill stomach could handle at the moment, I checked the interewebs for SRC results. Megumi Fuji defeats Emi Fujino by a unanimous decision. “Ah, good for you, my friend,” I thought, although my heart went out to my former teammate Fujino. They were both tough fighters. I’d heard Fujino hacking on weigh-in day, so I knew she’d also been fighting a sickness. What a warrior.
I moved down the list. K-Taro Nakamura defeats Yasubey Enomoto by rear naked choke.
“Yes!” I nearly shouted, thrilled at the victory of my former teammate and friend, who’s dojo I visit on a weekly basis. “With his specialty move, too!”
Almost as immediately, the disappointment set in. Yasubey had given me a mini-seminar two weeks before Sengoku, and had given me tons of tips on how to fight a south paw. I liked him a lot, and once I learned he was fighting K-Taro, didn’t know who to root for.
Continuing…Kazuyuki Miyata defeats Caol Uno by unanimous decision. I wanted to cry. From what emotion? My former teammate and hero, versus my new hero who’s gym I train at regularly. If only they could both win. I went to the facebook page of our kickboxing coach, Sean Frew, and saw that he’d posted round 2 of the fight there. I watched it. Then called Sean.
“Hey, congratulations to you and Miyata-san!” I said. “It was a big win for you both. Although I admit it was hard for me to watch. You know…Uno-san…”
“Thanks, Roxy,” Sean replied. “But you know, we’re all friends here. We all know each other. That’s why we are professionals. When it’s time to fight, it’s time to fight. You know that!”
And I did know that. Heck, I was supposed to face Hitomi Akano, until I got downed by some mystery stomach virus from Hell. We both train at the same gym- the AACC- although not together. Both of her cornermen were my trainer and friend respectively. I fought Tara Larosa and we are quite close- we talk on Skype frequently. Molly Helsel, who I fought in King of the Cage in Okinawa, has also become a good friend of mine.
MMA fighters are professionals. People start MMA for various reasons- to get out aggression, for fun, etc, but at the end of the day, there is science, nutritional elements, a multitude of aspects of training, game plans, and strategy. I no more want to injure you than you want to puncture the soccer ball which you’re trying to kick into the goal. It defeats the purpose, because then you can’t play anymore.
Of course, the “tap or snap” applies if one person refuses to give up, but most fighters wince and shake their heads when Aoki Shinya’s bone breaking antics are mentioned. And naturally, there’s the ‘tough guy/gal’ element of proving you’re the strongest and number one. Actually, there are way too many elements to mention.
But, in addition to things previously mentioned, the mental game and the size of your heart is a huge part of it. The determination and the willpower to go out there and wrestle or punch the win away from someone else. Make them give up. That’s what makes the sport of MMA such a fascinating entity. Dangerous, fun, and often I think I’ve gotta be more than a little crazy to have entered into this world in the first place. But once you’re in, there’s no going back- for a fan or a fighter.