Thursday, August 31, 2017

Report on McGregor-Mayweather Fight Night...and its Impact on the Internet

NOTE: Though this blog was originally about the production of a grappling movie, it now encompasses news and thoughts about fight sports and my personal training for fight sports such as submission grappling, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and various types of medieval armored combat and "historical fencing.")

Lat night I found myself at a time and place and financial situation that I felt like watching the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor. So I did..

It was a very interesting night of boxing, more interesting than several UFC nights I have seen. Not only was the boxing technique displayed at a high level,but also the fight science was very sound.

On top of that, the main event did not disappoint. It was billed at the most anticipated fight of all time, between a flamboyant, outspoken, controversial MMA fighter, and a flamboyant, controversial boxing champions. But there were also three other bouts broadcast on the Pay-Per-View program at the bar where I watched it.

Cruiserweight: Andrew Tabiti def. Steve Cunningham. This was the first bout of the night. Tabiti had speed and agility on his side. Cunningham was aggressive early, but lost his effectiveness as the fight went on. At the end of the bout, when Tabiti was awarded the win by the judges, a guy who was practically cosplaying McGregor said that Tabiti did a great job controlling the fight, that he had figured out Cunningham and just picked him apart. I could see that, too,.

Tabiti had fought with a very open guard. His fists were not close together in front of his face, as you might think boxer would do. Cunningham, on the other hand held that pose for most of the fight. Tabiti repeatedly picked this guard apart. He would shot a left jab between those hands, bringing Cunningham's arms higher. Then he would deliver a right hook to the body that would shake up Cunningham. This would bring the arms down again, Then Tabiti would either deliver a blow to the head or body with a left or right that would finish the combination. Cunningham did not have an answer for this.

Light heavyweight: Badou Jack def. Nathan Cleverly
Nathan Cleverly, the champion of this division, entered with a black headband that reminding me of nothing less that Ralph Macchio's adversary in Karate Kid. The fighters looked to be even, matching each other with quick, short, technically excellent combinations. I was distracted by certain other peple at the bar, so I did not watch much else of the fight. I did look up in time for the fifth round, however, where I noticed that Jack was getting the advantage on Cleverly. He was landing blows repeatedly as the champion bobbed and weaved in an attempt to not get hit.

Jack treated Cleverly's head like one of those rubber ball-shaped speed bags that are elastically tethered to the floor and ceiling. He would time the bob, measure the weave, and nail Cleverly's head right when it came to the apex of its move. Eventually the referee saw that Cleverly was not able to compose a counterattack to Jack's offense, and stepped in to stop the fight. This gave Jack the championship of the Light Heavyweight division.

Junior lightweight: Gervonta Davis def. Francisco Fonseca
This was a wild fight! Apparently Davis is a bit of a loose cannon. He entered the ring wearing a blue fuzzy hood, and had the same blue fake fur on the sides of his trunks. He certainly was loose in the match. At one point the Davis got his weight below Fonsceca, his arms around his legs, and lifted him up as if he was going to dump him on the ground. The referee stopped this, of course, but it definitely colored my impression of him, and made me want to see him get beat.

This feeling was increased by Davis' style of holding his hands behind his back and sticking his chin out, daring Fonseca to knock his block off.

I really wanted to see Davis' wildness and unsportsmanlike conduct be defeated by control and skill from Fonseca, but instead of that happening, Fonseca fought hard, but not well enough. After a blow that passed over his head contacting the back of his head and neck with David's arm, Fonseca fell to his knees. He grabbed Davis around the waist until the referee broke up the engagement and started counting Fonseca down.

Though the blow did not seem that hard, Davis could not get up. He stayed on all fours, trying desperately to bring some life back to his legs, for the duration of the count.

I have seen a fighter in the Armored Combat League literally collapse from exhaustion in the middle of the fight. His body just quit on him. It just up and shut down right there in the ring. Sometimes you can push the body too far.That's what it looked like happened to Davis to me. He simply pushed his body to far, and it shut down.

Super welterweight: Floyd Mayweather Jr. def. Conor McGregor
 This was what everyone came to see. Two flamboyant, loud-mouthes fighters with attitude punch each other silly. Could an MMA fighter focus enough on boxing skills to stay in the ring with a boxing champion? Was Mayweather past his prime? These were just a few of the questions going into the fight, but the smart money was on the guy with the 49-0 record.

McGregor came on early, aggressively striking Mayweather with well-targeted punches. His style was...unorthodox, you might say, which is to be expected. His MMA style is unorthodox. He trains to move as his body wills and focuses those movements into strikes and grappling, so a sport like boxing, which limits your toolset to that which enables you to punch the head and torso, will be awkward.

Some of this awkwardness really showed when McGregor would wind up taking Mayweather's back, and pummeling him on the back of the head. Such a move is not exactly allowed in boxing, and the referee had his hands full trying to keep that sort of thing to a minimum.

McGRegor also showboated a little bit, putting his hands behind his back and sticking his chin out like Davis had in the match before. Bu this outcome was not the same.

Mayweather is a professional boxing champion. He has won every professional boxing match he has ever fought. He got this.

A the fight went into the 6th, 7th, and 8th rounds, Mayweather's fists, which had been quiet at the start, began to come to life. McGregor's face started feeling the leather. It began to become obvious that he was goingwhere he wanted to in the ring, that McGregor, despite being taller and appearing to be more aggressive, was not really the one in control of the situation.

Between the 9th ant 10th rounds, I had to go to the bathroom. By that time I ahd been standing on my feet at this bar/club for over three hours, and that was after the better part o the day spent walking through a museum and standing around in armor at a wedding (I got paid to "officiate" a "Game of Thrones"-style wedding in Chicago that day as a knight. It was awesome). I was fighting sleep and shifting my weight back and forth on my feet. So I rushed down to the men's room and did my business as fast as I could.

When I got back up to the club floor, the place was erupting. Mayweather had turned it up a notch. He was pursuing McGregor, and it was apparent that any time he sent his fists in the direction of McGregor, they would land on his face and body. Mayweather had been measuring McGregor the whole fight, figuring out his timing, his style, his beats, his tells, and now he had the formula to defeat the crazy Irishman.

More than that. McGregor was gassed. His moves had lost precision, his hands were hanging low, and he was breathing heavy. With each blow, the bearded, tattooed warrior's coordination declined. His steps evolved into a stagger.

There is a subtle difference between "obvious" and "apparent." I'm not sure which of those terms indicates a greater degree than the other, but when one became the other, the referee (who had spent a little extra time before the bout explaining how he was going to be a stern, but "hands-off" referee) stepped in between them and called the fight, giving the victory to Floyd Mayweather by technical knockout.

It was a brilliant game plan, worthy of a champion, and it worked.

I found this very interesting, fascinating and exciting, particularly because I had been chatting all night with the Connor McGregor cosplay who had bet a thousand dollars on him, and because the crowd was very partisan, between the ones rooting for McGregor and the ones rooting for Mayweather (the Mayweather fans were chanting "USA! USA!" While the McGregor fans were of a diversity that would rival that of the "very fine" people and everyone else who was  allegedly or actually protesting the removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville). I found it so fascinating, in fact, that I feslt the urge to post on my Facebook wall:

"For the record : Mayweather did what a champion does."

HOO-BOY! What a ruckus that raised!

Now, I am not a man who watches TMZ religiously. Not do I tend to follow celebrity news much at all. So I completely missed all that business about Floyd Mayweather beating up women. Of course, my Facebook friends did not forget. Below are a smattering of the responses from Facebook:

"fixed"
"Beat women?"
"Get lots and lots of money for achievements of questionable value?" 
 "He earned his money in the ring.....he might not have earned it anywhere else and he is a shit human being....but he won fair and square"
"...Had he not brought so much money into the city of Las Vegas, it seems highly unlikely that he would have received multiple sentences so far below the norm for those crimes.
Had he not been a successful boxer, he would be in jail not in a ring.
Had he not been a successful boxer, he would be the statistic he deserves to be.
You cannot separate the boxer from the criminal misogynist. They're the same guy."
"
The term "champion" is so hollow on him as to not apply. He is a very skilled boxer. I hope someone karmas the crap out of him in a dark alley."

HOLY FREAKIN' WOWSHITS! WHAT DID I JUST STEP INTO!?!


I felt a need to explain/defend myself...


" In my defense, in my casual awareness of the event last night and even lesser awareness of boxing since Evander Holyfield lost his ear, i watched the fight last night in a vaccuum. I was paying attention to the techniqes, strategy, and fight science used. I was intrigued by tho possibilities of a very successful mma fighter stepping into a fight in which he was not allowed to use all of his tools. Also, i had never seen Mayweather box before, and was wondering what made him win so much. So i was ignorant of any other considerations when i made my post."

...and the love just kept coming...

"
Ok. So the answer is: "Fight an unworthy challenger in a fixed system where he gets his ass kicked for 5 rounds.""
"fixed"

 "Showing poor sportsmanship by fighting people he knows he can beat? Accepts challenges from good fighters after they are no longer in their prime?"

Sometimes you just can't win. Or even enjoy a professional prize fight.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fitness Update - the Sequel

Well, it's been a while since my last post. Let's just say i am not yet at my physical peak yet.

I went to the gym as often as I could with my life the way it was going, which meant some months I could go a couple or three times a week, and sometimes I would go weeks without getting to it. My membership ultimately expires\d, and my finances were not in a place to re-up. I got new jobs and new income, but that gym had removed the punching bag and timer that they used to have, which are two things I really valued about it.

I got new employment and a new income, and my commute involves a lot of walking and going up and down subway stairs, but my body must already be acclimated to that, because it is really not changing my physique or endurance or strength.

But I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that I have progressed to "skinny fat guy" (well, it may ot be all that bad, but I have a critical eye). I am not as bad as I was when I was in the "worst shape of my life," but I can say this: Last year I was able to do five laps around a certain lawn in a park where we have the weekly fighter practice of the Society for Creative Anachronism. This year I am doing three laps. I used to do three circuits of a "fitness route" in my neighborhood. Now I can barely get to two on a good day. And my gut is still sticking out farther than my chest if I don't suck it in.

I have a picture of me from that "worst shape of my life" period, and I don't looks bad as that, but I am still not really happy. I just got back from the Pennsic War, and definitely noticed a lack of endurance at the end of a long woods/resurrection battle. I was able to get through the whole battle without taking off my helm to rest but once (during a long general "hold"), but in the second half I had definitely lost a spring in my step and was not commuting in and out of resurrection point as quickly as I had in, say, 2016.

I also lack the arm strength I used to have. I cannot do nearly as many pull-ups as used to (though that may also be a result of my increased weight, somewhere between 206 and 211 these days).

I have been, however, doing those "fitness routes" at least twice a week, and doing the SCA fighter practice every Tuesday. However poorly I did at Pennsic, conditioning-wise, I know I would have done worse had I not been doing that.

Oddly, however, I went for a run this morning and found my body unresponsive. I felt fat and stiff, as if I had forgotten how to run.  It may be fatigue from wearing and fighting in armor on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, combined with the stiffness that comes from sitting in a car for 8 hours for the ride home. But I did feel a bit more loosened up by the end of the run.

So I am gong to SCA fighter practice tomorrow, and wil do my three-lap run and drills, and then may put the armor back on. I look forward to getting back to a regular workout schedule so I can look, feel, and perform better soon!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fitness update. Not there yet

so I started gong to the gym. First it was twice a week, doing 15 minutes on the eliptical and a full-body circuit on the weights. After a few weeks I switched to a 2-day split, pulling exercises and pushing exercises. Then I added a day for legs. I was feeling stronger, my body mass was shifting from fat to muscle, and I was adding weight and resistance to my exercises.

Then one day I found myself having to run three blocks to catch a bus. In combat boots. Pulling a small suitcase.

When I got to the bus there was a great cheer from all the passengers (no there wasn't, but I like to think there was). But I was out of breath, like I had been fighting in armor for a minute or so. In the course of the run my legs got tired lifting up those heavy boots. I realized what it was: I am still out of shape.

I went into the gym his week and decided to do functional movements; the warm-up exercises that we would do in Brazilian jiu jitsu class, for instance. They kicked my ass. These were things that wee never "easy," but in time, I was able to do. Now it's a drag to do more than one or two reps.

All those months of "healing" did my conditioning no favors. We got a lot of work to do.

The good news is that I discovered that yes, I can run again. The knee is no longer the problem. Now I an run every day if I want to. And I think I shall.

Look out world!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Worst shape of my life...

It's official. I am in the worst shape of my life.

For those of you who have been following this blog (wait, that's not you? You're not the guy? Oh well, I know he's out there somewhere...) you may be wonding where I have been. for those who have not see tnis blog of mine before (I expect that woud probably include you. Yeah, and you too.) you are probably wondering what this blog is and why I decided to post here now.

This blog was started when I began producing my first feature the film I now call "Redemption: find Out What You're Worth." It was a Rocky/Karate Kid - type sports-redemption story set in a world of submission grappling. After the film was completed I kept this blog alive chronicling my adventures in the grappling world, mostly training and competing (my competition record: 3 wins, 46 losses, 2 draws).

Since then, my martial arts and filmaking endeavors have migrated to full-contact medieval armored combat in armor with blunt steel weapons. I have been chronicling that in my regular "Captain Zorikh" blog at http://zorikh.blogspot.com/. But now I fel an urge to return to this blog.

The term "redemption," to my mind, means finding the value of yourself. If you find the value is too low, you have the opportunity to do something about it. Through work, effort, and dedication you can increase your worth, thus truly earning a worthwhile redemption.

In late september of 2013 I tore my right ACL at a tournament in Ontario fighting a Ukrainian-Canadian. You can see the action here:


Still I fought in the International Medieval Combat Federation world championships in Belmonte, Spain in the spring of 2014, leading tha All-on-All team in the "Kill the King" scenario. In late October of that year I had the surgery to repair the ACL. since then I have been recovering and therapizing my knee. But I have not been working out, fighting, or training. In short, I have been sitting and eating a lot (and writing and editing videos, but that's for my other blog).

Then I went to the Pennsic War this year (the largest medieval event in the Western Hemisphere). I used to fighti in battles like this...



By recommendation of the doctor and the therapist, I did not fight in the battles this year, but instead marshaled (that's those guys in the black tabbards with the crossed yellow swords. They are there to keep everyone safe and make sure folks are following the rules).

I wasn't ready. I couldn't handle the heat, and after marshaling a battle in the morning, I was exhausted and sleepy the rest of the day. This is not too surprising. I have not seen the underside of 200 lbs since the surgery, my waist is now over 35 inches, and I have not been outside an air-conditioned room for an extended period of time since last summer.

I knew I wasn;t at my best, but I took pictures of myself to post as "before" pictures. They are so disgusting that I am not even ging to post them until I have decent "during" and "after" pictures.

What really disgusts me is that I was doing "Insanity" workouts before the surgery, in addition to all the fighting and training that I had been doing, so I must have been in pretty good shape back then.

So I got myself a gym membership and I am going to sue it. Hopefully I will make enough money soon to re-join a martial arts school, get back on the grappling mats. And I know I will be putting armor on again in about a month.

So hold on tight, it's going to be a wild ride until I look like this 2011 picture again:








Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Hate/Love This Sport

I just got back from by first ECU BJJ class in a while (my new work schedule had kept me away) and I have to say one thing:

I hate this sport.

I hate the agony of the physical exertion needed to go through the warm-ups. I hate the feeling of  sheer terror and uncertainty I feel when sailing through the air and not knowing how, where, or when I will land when being the victim of a properly executed throw. I hate the feeling of suffocation when underneath a smothering side mount. I hate the feeling of panic I get when I realize I can't breathe and have to tap or pass out.

But you know, after tapping out, I bounce up and I am ready to do it again. Maybe I enjoy the feeling of relief and rebirth that I get when the other guy gets off of me. Maybe I dig the look that the hard work and exercise gives to my body. Maybe I enjoy the near-post-orgiastic afterglow of a good long hard training session. Maybe I enjoy the testosterone rush that I get from the exertion. Maybe I like the challenge of seeing just how far I can push myself, how much I can learn, how well I can apply what I have learned in a fight. Maybe I enjoy the comraderie and support I get from my teammates. Maybe I just like feeling like a badass fighter when I walk down the street with my hood up, my gear bag in one hand and my Muscle Milk shaker cup in the other.

I love this sport.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Latest training blog

Report for last three weeks' training.

Forgive me, I have boon so busy with work and other things that I have neglected the blog. But I have been continuing my weekly trainings at East Coast United BJJ. I have also been working out in the gym with G.A. West, wearing a 10 lb armored coat of plates.

For the last three weeks I have been discovering in the free rolling that I do have some knowledge of certain basic principles, and have been using them. the idea of keeping your legs in front of you to prevent side mount; the idea that being in someone's guard is better then being under their mount or having your back taken; the concept of knowing when to relax, because you are just wasting energy; I have been finding submission attempts and escapes where before I would not know what to do and tap out or stall.

I have been paired with people who invariably have at least one of the following: more strength, more endurance, more energy, more training, more skill (all things considered, that is not very difficult to find in a BJJ school). I have ben able to avoid submissions and even score a couple submissions, a lot more than I used to. I guess this is what they mean by "progress."

I have been told that I am now pretty strong and have good energy, entrance, and skill. It's just a matter of putting it all together. As one guy said, "Stop being a spaz."

I am looking at competing in The Good Fight next month http://www.thegoodfight.tv/. We will see how much I have progressed and can avid "spa zing out" there!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Training week, RGL coming...

I did not get to the gym this week (phone problems, don't ask, but I did train at home a little bit, doing bodyweight exorcizes and jumping jacks, and I got to ECU BJJ on Thursday.

This week our warm-ups were different. Instead of the usual rolls, sprawls, and other movements across the floor, we did hopscotch and what I call "bridge-and-tunnel." The we studied the arm-bar, a way to block it, and a way to counter the block, then we drilled, drilled, drilled. When we were done drilling, we had three rounds of sparring.

My first round was with another white belt, stronger and heavier than me, but will less experience. Though I was not able to submit him, I was able to try an execute several technical moves, including some interesting angles on which to apply a triangle.

In the next round I went up against a much more skilled and experienced fighter. He was able to deny every attempt at passing the guard and submit me a couple of times. At one point I stopped to examine method of passing guard by getting both arms under the opponent's legs. I had been getting caught in guillotines when I had tried that recently, and I learned a few new principles. It seems that it is trouble to leave your head in the guy's stomach when getting a group there. You have to either be buried between his legs, or sit up fast ti pull his legs up and get his hips close to yours.

The last round was with the strong, aggressive white belt I had trained with my first week back. After he got me in a quick guillotine, when we re-set, I was able to deny his speed and aggression by going to my back and getting him in guard. He was strong enough to keep me from executing any submissions at that point, but he never got past my guard in over 5 minutes.

After class, I asked the experienced grappler about the execution of a certain type of sweep from guard. It involves bringing your chest up, and I kept on getting stiff-armed in the chest. we figured out that what I need to do is get the stiff-arm hand blocked away from my chest for the duration of the move. There is a way to do that which involves using my arm to guide the opponent's arm out of the way as I sit up. We'll see how that works.

One of the instructor's said I was getting better, showing good technical work in the rolling today. That makes me feel good. I still feel I am lacking a lot of skill and some aggression, and I certainly have forgotten a lot over the couple of months I missed training this summer. I just hope I can pick it back up soon.

This weekend I have been invited to compete in the Renegade Grappling League tournament at an event in the Bronx. This is the same organization that gave me those epic, three-round matches that you can see on YouTube. We will see how I do this time.