MMA Madness (or, Am I Loser?)

The other night I went with my friend Geoff to Sportfight, the locally promoted mixed martial arts event featuring fighters primarily from the west coast. I’ve been marginally into MMA for many years now, ever since watching the first UFC events back in the 1990s, before they were even calling it MMA. My interest in mixed-style fighting is an extension of my interest in both boxing and the martial arts, both of which I followed more closely in my youth. Anyway, Geoff and I decided to check out Sportfight, and my buddy Andrew managed to hook us up with some comps, so we were good to go.

The first few fights were preliminary bouts, featuring amateur fighters looking to build up their records and hopefully move up to the professional ranks. Personally, I love amateur fights, because you often get to see guys who are much more hungry, with much more heart, really looking to prove themselves. I’m talking about guys like Colt Toombs, who happens to be the son of professional wrestling superstar Rowdy Roddy Piper. This kid Colt had a great fight, and showed he has some great skills. Watching him in the ring—before anyone even knew he was Roddy Piper’s kid—you got the impression you were seeing a future MMA star in the making.

But for every guy like Colt Toombs who really has heart and soul, and puts on a great show, there are some guys who should never even step into the ring. During one of the early bouts, I had the opportunity to see one of these fighters, which in retrospect left me monumentally depressed.

This particular fight was between Ray Version and Adam Stone. When the ring announcer starts giving his stats, he points out that Stone has an amateur record of zero wins and three losses, and he uses some sort of fighting style he created called “cowboy karate.” Anyone who watches MMA knows that plenty of fighters have multiple and various styles, including some they come up with on their own. More often than not, these styles, like “cowboy karate,” are good for a laugh more than anything else.

The bell rings, and Stone and his opponent, Ray Version, come out of the corners. Rather than throwing a punch, a kick or anything like that, Stone immediately goes for a takedown. Next thing you know, Version has Stone in a guillotine chokehold, and the master of cowboy karate is literally out like a light. The ref calls the fight, Version loosens the chokehold, and Stone, unconscious, drops to the canvas like a bunch of broccoli. All in all, twenty-four second had passed—less than half of a minute. “So much for cowboy karate,” I thought to myself. Then I leaned over to the stranger sitting next to me and said, “I actually feel bad for that guy. That shit was kind of humiliating.”

Later that night, as I tried to sleep, I kept thinking about Stone and the twenty-four seconds that led to the fourth loss of his fighting career. When I first saw Stone lose in one of the most pathetic fights I’ve ever seen in my life, there was a mix of comedy and tragedy—like watching someone slip on a pile of dog poop, and smash their head on the concrete. It’s kind of funny at first, but then you find out that the guy who slipped on the dog shit and smashed his head actually died from the injuries, and suddenly it’s no longer funny at all.

It takes a special kind of person to get into the ring and fight someone else. Anyone who does this must commit to train their mind and body to the ultimate levels, and push themselves harder than most people could ever imagine. And you must believe in yourself, because that’s a very important factor in getting yourself through the fight. But at what point does all the training amount to a waste of time, and when does believing in yourself become nothing more than self delusion?

I’m not saying that Adam Stone should give up fighting, but after four losses, one of which came after only twenty-four seconds into the first round, I do think this guy needs to take a serious look at what he’s doing, ‘cause clearly he ain’t doin’ something properly. Which raises the question: At what point do I need to be realistic and give up on whatever brass ring it is that I’m reaching for?

Now, because I can’t do anything simply—like watching two men beat the crap out of each other—I got to thinking about my own life, the dreams I’ve been chasing after, and the goals I’ve worked to achieve. And then I started thinking about myself within the context of Stone, who in all likelihood went into the fight with every intention and belief that he was going to win, and then got choked out in less time than it took him to walk from the dressing room to the ring.

Not ever person is going to be a Colt Toombs, walking into the ring with confidence, and actually winning. But then there are guys like Stone, who don’t even really put up a fight. I mean seriously, I could have gone into that ring, with no training other than watching MMA on television, and still have stood a chance of lasting longer than twenty-four seconds. Of course, I’m not going to get into the ring, because I know my limitations and weaknesses—at least as far as MMA goes.

The problem with a lot of people is that they don’t necessarily have a realistic idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Some people give themselves far too much credit, while other don’t give themselves enough. After watching Stone drop to that canvas, I wondered how much credit he had given himself before the fight, and how much he would give himself once the oxygen was flowing to his brain again and he fully regained consciousness. Then, I started to wonder if I am more like Stone than I ought to be. Do I give myself credit for being a great fighter, but in reality every time I step in the ring someone is handing me my ass? Am I simply wasting my time and making a fool of myself.

These are the questions many of us face. I’ve been wrestling with these questions—no pun intended—quite a bit lately. I’m not sure what the answers are, and I know that I may never have them—at least not in a way that is satisfactory. But in questioning many of the things that I have done, both recently and over many years of my life, I am starting to come to some conclusions. These have not been easy conclusions to come to, but some have been both inevitable and obvious, even though I have fought against them. And now that I am staring these conclusions in the eye, as they stand in the opposite corner of the ring, waiting for the bell to sound so they can come kick my ass, I am faced with a continued fight with the truth that surrounds me, or knowing when to throw in the towel.

If life is like a boxing match—or, if you prefer a MMA match—then the greatest opponent we will ever face is the truth within ourselves. And fighting the truth is an ugly proposition, because it means that you are fighting for dishonestly, deception and bullshit to prevail throughout your existence.

Speaking for myself, it is time I stopped fighting the truth. This will not be easy, but it is necessary. In the days and weeks and months to come, I will be doing the best I can to ensure that I win my fights, or that at least I don’t go down after a mere twenty-four seconds. This means that there will be a lot of profound changes in my life, ranging from career to personal. It means that some of the goals I’ve been working towards will be abandoned in favor of other, more realistic goals. It also means that some of the people who have been a part of my life in the past won’t be around much anymore, because it is time that I moved on. But more than anything, it means that rather than fighting the truth, I will embrace it.

Stay tuned. Things may get interesting.


One Response to “MMA Madness (or, Am I Loser?)”

  1. wone Says:

    The careers we choose (or sometimes are forcefully chosen for us):

    Adam Stone. Now that could be:

    A. (product placement director/ gopher for ‘B’ movies such as “Never Back Down”)

    B. (very good contemporary artist)

    C. (a gay poet)

    D. (An award-winning dog trainer….. a brotha)

    or finally E…………

    “hey, maybe I can get choked out in under a half minute doing something I KNOW I’m not good at!”

    Things we do for undisclosed reasons.

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