Jameel's Blog, Double Dose: Pre-fight/Post Fight
Obviously fighting entails a lot of stress, at least for some people. People like me. Those tough people who don`t think twice about getting punched in the face and risking their health can go jump off a cliff. That`s just not me. Honestly, my string of wins on short notice fights might be because I don`t have the time to freak out. However, after 23 fights in four years, experience has taught me how to use this nervous energy to my every advantage and that it's not something bad, it's actually something to make you stronger.
This last week has been fight-prep and weight-loss all the way. Losing weight is never,ever fun, no matter what anyone says to you. Talk to my teaMMAtes in Kenosha. I have a special hate at times when I train or spar close to a fight, making me want to punch my friend`s heads off. It's never fun to be even a little hungry.
For me dieting starts two weeks before the fight, seeing as I drop from 175 pounds down to 145 in that time. Dieting and cutting weight properly is a science and skill and now I am starting to master it with more ease. It's a lot easier than the fasting I used to endure. Aside from the diet, this week has been a lot of sparring and application training.
Last week I was sick with that nasty fever, but this week I am 100% and finally got a chance to go train at an awesome shootboxing gym outside of Nagoya. For those of you that don`t know what shootboxing is, it basically kickboxing with standing submissions and take-downs from the clinch. Also known as standing vale tudo, it can be brutal and also more complex than Muay Thai or K-1 kickboxing because of the dangers in the clinch.
Anyways, this gym also practiced jiu-jitsu so I basically sparred on the ground for an hour, was asked to teach a few submissions, and then sparred in striking for another hour. The second hour I was completely gassed but I gave it my all. All I can say is that I have never sparred with such a technically proficient group of strikers who kicked my ass from corner to corner. Yeah I was tired as hell and these guys were just starting their workout, but they would have surely kicked my ass regardless. For them, it was round after round offense with me sneaking in some well calculated shots, but I couldn`t match their volume if I tried. But I still felt good and it was just what I needed to help my mind stay focused for this fight in Pancrase.
The rest of the week was pretty dull, just training day after day, dieting right, and getting on the bike to cycle off some water weight for 30 or 40 minutes every day before dinner.
Tonight I leave for Tokyo at 1 a.m. I`m sleeping in the van and then heading straight to the sauna to shed off the last seven to ten pounds to make 145lbs. I weigh in at 2 p.m. and then it's time to put all that water weight back on and give my body some much deserved carbs. Hopefully I`ll weigh 165lbs or 170lbs by the time I fight on Sunday.
Before I forget some big news, the Freestyle Academy has come to agreement with Tsuyoshi Iwakura and he we now have a new gym and MMA group out here in the Nagoya area: Dave Strasser`s Freestyle Academy, Japan. This group of guys I am training with are a good pool of young talent that are going to be studs in MMA. Obviously, these guys have a great BJJ background, but Tsuyoshi and I have been helping them form a complete game and I have absolutely no doubt that there are now and will grow to become a bunch of killers in MMA.
Well, I don`t have that much else to say except that I miss the Dave Strasser`s Freestyle Academy and hear good things about Dave`s Feb. 21 card in Kenosha, the same day I am going to be hosting a small seminar at Kenosha`s Freestyle Academy. I`ll be sure to have more details about that next week.
As always, I love you all for your support and will fight my heart out this coming Sunday. I`ll be sure to let you all know how it goes.
Of course, all aspiring fighters naturally look to the UFC, WEC, K-1, or Sengoku since these are top-tier organizations for MMA. These promotions sell out arenas and turn ordinary men into legends of the ring/cage. Crowds chant your name, people on the street know who you are, and the money is what most fighters never make. Even though I have not yet reached that mountain-top, fighting for the Pancrase organization makes me feel one giant step closer to that end goal. Pancrase holds a special significance, a history, a legend. Knowing that so many great fighters have spent their time in Pancrase (whether it is under the old-school rules or more conventional MMA rules) inspires me very much. As an MMA fighter, I feel justified and privileged to compete in Pancrase. But the only thing better than simply competing is winning. As such, I won my fight at 2:30 into round one via KO/TKO stoppage. Truly a highlight of my career.
So basically everything came together without a hitch this weekend. In my experience, the last week always sucks before a fight: you get anxious, nervous, lose sleep, and diet a lot. But the couple of days weren`t bad at all this time. On Friday night/ Saturday morning I left at 1 a.m. to sleep in a van while my teammates drove me five hours to Tokyo. Upon reaching Tokyo at 7 a.m., I woke up and went directly to the Japanese bath house in Shinjuku and started cutting the final eight pounds of water in the Sauna (always pleasurable). For those of you who cut in the sauna, you know it makes you hate living. Seriously, post-sauna dehydration make me feel like I must be dead or dying. Well, it took me two hours, but I did it and cooled off in a Japanese ice-bath, something that really helps to recover from possible overheating. From there, I went to weigh in at the Gold`s Gym in Harajuku.
Upon arriving at Gold`s (the nicest gym I have ever seen with five stories awesomeness) I had the pleasure of meeting up with fellow teammates from Cobra-Kai/Freestyle Academy who were also fighting: Kiichi "Strasser" Kunimoto and Daisuke "13" Hanazawa, as well as some other Cobra-Kai members. Seeing them was like seeing family and it made waiting for weigh-ins that much more bearable. Weigh-ins went well, and then I went and did the normal post-weigh-in routine (drink fluids, eat pasta and protein, and relax). However, there was a pleasant surprise waiting for me this evening.
It turns out that Tsuyoshi acquired tickets to RISE, a kickboxing event held at the same place I would be fighting the next day. We had third row seats for some awesome top-level kickboxing competition that did not disappoint. The final fight was a five round war and put me in a good mood to fight the next day. I think a lot of fighters would shy away from watching fights because they get nervous. As it turns out, I just get pumped up and ready to go.
The train ride on Sunday to Differ Ariake put me in a good state of mind. The peacefully train ride took me on a 45 minute tour of Tokyo. Mt. Fuji was even visible in the distance, beautiful, covered with snow.
Once at the Differ Ariake, I met up with my friends from Cobra-Kai and we all went to the ring check. Everyone just sort of got into that mental state of mind where you know you`re going to fight hard. I eventually noticed that my opponent, Takita, was observing me, so I decided to show him exactly what he was in for. I deliberately had Tusyoshi hold pads for me so that he would know I didn`t care and had nothing to hide, and even showed off some ground and pound mit training. The way I figure, he has to know he`s in for it if I`m willing to show him what I have ahead of time.
Anyways, the next two hours consisted of waiting for the Neo-Blood Tournament to finish before the main card started. First up was my good friend and teammate from Cobra-Kai/ Freestyle Academy, Kiichi "Strasser" Kunimoto. Kiichi rocked and looked sharp on the striking, jabbing the hell out of his foe. However, Kiichi eventually got taken down, but reversed his opponents and choked him unconscious with a side choke. Why some people don`t tap is beyond me, nothing like brain damage. My fight was sixth on the main card.
My opponent, Masaya Takita "J-Taro", is known for coming out to the ring with pro-wrestling-eque dance performances. My Japanese manager got the brilliant idea to counter his flashy ring entrance with one of my own. Basically, before my normal entrance, a professional Japanese break-dance-crew would go out and entertain the crowd for a few minutes to music. Then, my normal music would blast, and I`d do my normal thing. Well, the dance crew rocked. Their moves seemed impossible, including spinning continuously on their head forever. Either way, the crowd really enjoyed it and it set the stage well for my entrance. But as cool as it was, I kind of had to give it to Takita. He`s a funny weird guy who knows how to entertain.
Takita`s entrance was very...weird. He, and his two corner-men, came out dressed as mermaids...women mermaids with sea-shell bras and wigs to match. Clearly, they did not want to be taken seriously and their dance was very weird, but as serious as I like to be in my corner, I couldn`t even resist laughing at it. Regardless, I also thought about how at that point there was no way I was losing to a guy who`s going to enter the ring dressed like a girl. From there, the announcer announced us and we got ready to do our thing.
The bout got under way and I knew exactly what to expect: Takita is a south-paw wrestler with good takedowns, likes to pound, and has some tricky standing techniques like spinning backfists (he`s good at them, too). Knowing this, my strategy was to pick him apart from the outside by blasting him with inside leg kicks, sticking a far-reaching 1-2 in his face, and repeating. All of the work Tsuyoshi has been doing on me really worked. My jab found its mark on his chin. My kicks took away his balance and I had him staggered twice within the first minute or so. He clearly knew the danger because he kept trying to force a double leg that I just stuffed and walked away from. Finally, I blasted him with a nice straight punch combination that dropped him to the canvas, seeing that the ref wasn`t stopping it, I moved in, stood over him, and battered his face until the ref did decide to stop. No sweat, and no damage to me at all. I`ve never fought better.
In the 23 prior fights I`ve had in MMA, I have never dropped someone with my hands, and to be honest, I never expected to ever. I just thought my hands didn`t have the power. Well, Tsuyoshi and his type of training certainly proved me wrong, and I couldn`t be more thankful. This was also a milestone for me because in 24 fights, it's the first that didn`t end up with me on the ground due to a takedown one way or the other.
The last fight of the night was Hanazawa`s for the title. He put up a good fight and won round one easily but taking his opponent down, controlling him, and pounding on him. However, round two and three proved much more difficult. He lost the striking exchanges and tried too much to force the takedown, ending up on bottom multiple times and losing a judge's decision. It's a shame too, because Hanazawa is a beast, and I`d never thought he would lose that fight. Still, it was impossible for me to be unhappy with the night the way things went for me.
This fight has great meaning for me. Last time, in Japan for two months, I lost in Pancrase. It is good to win for so many reasons. My training has paid off, and it's not all for nothing. Also, now I am officially the number one ranked Pancrase fighter at 145 and am up for a shot at the title, hopefully sooner than later. And I think Marlon Sandro would be a good fight. He couldn`t finish Takita when they fought recently, and I dropped him in less than two minutes. With my new found understanding of MMA, why not go for it? All in all, this training camp has proven to be a great experience.
The Freestyle Academy, Japan, is going to be run by Tsuyoshi for some great up and coming fighters out here. It's definitely a place I will always think of as a second home, and I`ll certainly come back to train here again. However, when I get back home I will certainly pass on what I have learned from Tsuyoshi.
I mentioned it before, but on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009, I have been invited by Dave Strasser to host a seminar based on my training out here with Tsuyoshi and at Cobra-Kai. I`m coming home the fourth, so by this weeks` end the specifics will be hammered out, but I can tell you that it will start sometime before noon and probably last for three hours, covering some striking, sumo for MMA, and submission work. Either way, I`ll have the specifics up for anyone who is even remotely interested.
As always, this blog has been a blessing. Why anyone would want to sit down and read what I have to say is beyond me, but it has been my pleasure. I`m here until Wednesday, so if I have more to say, I`ll send it in. If not, thank you all so much for reading.
Lastly, here is the Sherdog link for the review of this Pancrase event for those interested: