Rougheart MMA Journal

Joshua Beranis covers the mixed martial arts scene in Kitsap County and beyond.
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A new young gun comes onboard with Rougheart MMA Journal, and (stuff) gets real…

July 2nd, 2013 by Joshua Scott Beranis

My name is Cody Lemley. I am 22 years old and have been an mma junkie for the last 10 years. I remember the first fight to get me hooked when Randy Couture gave Tito Ortiz a thorough beating over 5 rounds to capture the light heavy weight crown. I have never been the most athletic guy on the planet but have trained in BJJ and Boxing because of my love for mma. I rarely miss a live UFC event and if i do i stream it asap. I am not your typical fight fan. 90% of all  fans worship two names; GSP and Anderson Silva. I think they may have little understanding of the big picture. They are naive MMA fans, kind of like the Sea Hawks crowd blowing up fan base in the recent years. I met my bro Josh about 7 months ago and we hit it off instanlty. I hope to work along side him and give the hardcore and  mid-level fans alike some insight into local and pro mma . I know with my fighting knowledge and Josh’s writing expertise, along with our combined love of MMA this will be the s*#!!!!!!!!!!

   (This update was edited and approved by Joshua Beranis of Rougheart MMA Journal without any authorization by the Kitsap Sun or their affiliates.)


Cage Warrior Combat’s last two shows shatter the earth, and why I want to see a rematch between Montgomery and Blaski:

June 21st, 2013 by Joshua Scott Beranis

Cage Warrior Combat, now more than ever, is becoming a fierce and epic spectacle for local MMA fans in Kitsap County and beyond. The last two cards have been slammed, bolth with spectators as well as a large number of bouts. I was nervous in May, when Jeff Holcomb (Valholl Brewing, CWC Sponsor and Security-Head) informed me that promoters Tad Bremer and Mingo Reyna had a card stacked like what I thought of as a Jenga tower. It did not appeal to me right away to have to sit through such a heavy event, but HLY S$$$ did they deliver a good show.

Everything came together for each of the May bouts, and they got a long awaited female bout for their card. Another female bout was held again on June 8th’s incredible card. This is something that really does appeal to me, because women don’t seem to fight the way men do. Women just have something incredibly potent to bring into the cage, no matter how you cut it. Its brutal, its serious, its honest, and dare I even say it… its probably one of the most attractive things I think a woman can do. A woman entering a Mixed Martial Arts closed cage competition, putting a middle finger up to the whole world. I want to stand up on my chair and flick the whole world off with them.

In May we saw Amy Cadwell go up against Cheryl Chan. This took on such a gritty form that I felt within the first two rounds that the two actually had unfinished business with eachother on the outside. Know this; that if you come to these events thinking a woman can’t throw down, you’re stupid. Would you go in there, fat off your cheetoes, just after a nice week long session of farting through your sweatpants while you watch ESPN highlights, to duke it out with a gym’s prize female fighter? A fighter who tortures herself against the mats to overcome the jeers of ignorant armchair spectators shouting sexist remarks from the sidelines. I would love to see one of these ignorant loud-mouthed couch-potatoes with their tapout ball-caps get a decent wedge to the cheek from Cadwell, who took the fight with Chan into the third round and defeated her by judge’s decision. It was the first of the bouts that night to make it three rounds. Epic…

And for June’s female bout we saw Jaime Gonzales of Team Mean go up against Yvonne Alameda of Northwest Elite for a vicious take-down and submission during the clinch in the third round. These women come in flying at weights from 115 to 150, and for the spectator begging for more, it truly is a sight to see. You don’t know how good it is unless you’ve been close enough to hear skin and cartlidge spread like butter beneath a furious strike. Cage Warrior Combat brought that.

Andrew Ramm of Hybrid, fought and won, in his pro-debut (after a serious string of amateur wins), against Jack Santenn of Northwest Elite, this time with another vicious manuever, which I was thrilled enough with to approach Mr. Ramm and tell him so. It was a rear naked choke, which Joe Cleere actually had to remind me of via the facebook page. This manuever is likely the courtesy of his determination on the mats, and the tuteledge of Joe Cleere, Ramm’s head trainer. Andrew Ramm every time! I lost my composure when I saw the armbar sink this time. I lept from my seat, I raised my beer high, spilling some of it on my notes. Hybrid is legit. Joe Cleere was nice enough to cater to me during an experimental gym try-out to get a taste of the hard work these men need to go through in order to make it behind the cage doors. For the average exploritory jerk like myself, Cleere will give you all the basic dynamics. Combos, adrenaline fed cardio challenges, etc, some intro to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the assistance of qualified professionals… But for Andrew Ramm and the like, devoted and trustworthy competitors, passionate about the sport as well as responsible in its applications, the training is in private, personal, and strictly off the record.

Andrew fights on June 29th at Clearwater, against Eric Ramsey. Ramm vs. Ramsey, main event. The Reign Fighting Championship, headed by Washington Superstar Bristol Marunde, scheduled to fight against Viscarde Andrade in upcoming UFC 163. Tad Bremer, Cage Warrior Combat promoter is questioning Marunde’s reasoning.

“I’ve seen Eric Ramsey fight. He’s a monster,” says Bremer. Bremer voices open concern about the match, as well as voicing his open distaste for a fight promotion being held in his own promotion’s back yard. “I’m (going to) start to have to get tough about this with my fighters,” Bremer added. A promotion within reach of The Point Casino’s event center has potential to tug local Kitsap fighters away from Bremer, who has been at work with Cage Warrior Combat since its beginning days out of The Baymont Inn and Suites ballroom in downtown Bremerton.

Marunde has scored fame and reknown on behalf of his involvement in FX’s The Ultimate Fighter Series, as well as being eyed favorably by Dana White and signed on to compete in UFC 163, as well as appearing on very short notice against Clint Hester. Hester took Marunde in a knockout with a first-second elbow.. which I thought was pretty clever, but kind of dickish and repulsive.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiMS8uLGjn0  

According to Bremer, Marunde was once a close friend and business partner, but their affiliation with one another became rocky around the time that Marunde branched off to take his Mixed Martial Arts pursuit and training to Vegas. The rivalry now bares its teeth for the public on June 29th when Marunde brings an all-ages outdoor show to Clearwater Casino. Marunde’s facebook page has posted about it, but.. “I’ve yet to see any promotion concerning it,” says Bremer. “I guess we’ll wait and see.”

The arrival of a dueling promotion in Kitsap marks the beggining of local visible competition between casino fighting events. So far, Cage Warrior Combat has sucked in the most local sponsorship, maintaining close partnership with Valholl Brewing of Poulsbo, Fingers Duke Design Studio, and most recently Primal Combat.

Marunde’s Reign Fighting Championship will have a lot to compete with as far as the show itself is conserned too. CWC’s last two events have been absolutely explosive. Matt Kovacs of Arlington Kickboxing Academy has been arriving steadily, ruthless in his demeanor and hostility, as well as having a tendency to dominate the upper weight class for the event.

Andy Paves of Ivan Salverry MMA  and Justin Larsson of Twin Dragons most recently fought it out into decision as the main event. Paves’ win was not well recieved, and Paves himself announced immediately that he believed Larsson to have taken the win.

Lupe Hudgens of Underground Fight Team and Arjay Murphy of Mabjj and Tacoma Boxing Club provided the bloodiest fight I have ever seen live. The fight was so blood-soaked, that from forty feet away from the cage I could make out the coppery smell of the blood, and the two were struggling for footing for the rest of the three round bout, ending by Lupe Hudgens taking Murphy with a slippery submission.

Jacob Boysen opened a deep gash in Colby Hoffman’s head that began to gush immediately and almost ended the bout in the first round, but when the judges and trainers saw that the bleeding had slowed, Hoffman was encouraged back into the octagon to complete the battle. The bout went three rounds and ended by Boysen taking the win by unanimous decision.

As far as the fight between Will Montgomery and Jake Blaski was concerned, I was thrilled at the match-up. I love to see a good local ammy bout, and Montgomery goes back to my favorite local fight between himself and Oregon native Stephen Wing of Redneck Militia. Montgomery lost that bout after a remarkably memorable three-round battle against Wing, who ended up taking Montgomery out with strikes in the third. I also had the opportunity to spar in a half-serious wrestling session with Montgomery, who weaved his way around my arms and legs at every turn, causing me to groan in sincere pain each team. At one point, Montgomery pretty much sat on my face to force back my arm into an unbearable position. Wing and Montgomery remain two of my absolute favorite ammy fighters, and the CWC bout the two competed in back when I first started remains fresh in my brain.

When I heard that local Jake Blaski, who has been known to bounce around with Hybrid from time to time, and who I have seen appear more than a few times with CWC, was fighting against Will Montgomery with Full Circle Fight Club at his back, I did a back-flip. It was a bold move, as bolth fighters compete locally. 

The manuever that Blaski used to take down Montgomery in round one, was a smooth criminal of a knee-bar. Blaski was grasping the cage during the manuever, loud and clear for all to see on the side of the cage where he had grabbed to assist in taking Montgomery down. It was still a good manuever, regardless, and decisions are decisions, but I would love to see a bold rematch with the potential to go into three rounds. Will Montgomery needs to be appearing in the gym under the instruction of James Bergstrom and Bobby Lawrence,and he needs to be doing so on a regular basis. People know his face at the gym, and I still want to see him win. Jake Blaski is a great guy, and an excellent local competitor, so if he could take Montgomery in a knee-bar once, surely he could do it again. I just want to see it happen. It was a great idea, and will gripe about it untill I die unless it happens. 

 

 


Dark Horse Entertainments May 11th Pummel at the Point record-setting and explosive

May 14th, 2013 by Joshua Scott Beranis

16 bouts busted a belt-loop or two on Cage Warrior Combat’s usual suit. This was big, and that had been the word for weeks leading to May 11. On this hefty card, 6 professional bouts with home-town hero Carl “Kingfist” Edwards of Full Circle Fight Club as the main event in a rematch against Darrio Mobley of Alive MMA, set a new tone for Tad Bremer and Mingo Reyna’s promotion.

Underneath the impressive stack of professional MMA bouts was an altogether astounding 10 amateur bouts, all of which ended by radical manuevers, brutal knock-outs, and/or hideous upsets. Even for those to whom an extensive card might not appeal, the density was paired well with suitable intensity. 

Fighting out of local gyms on the amateur card were AJ Cobb, and Cody Sutherland of Rough House MMA in Bremerton.  Jake Blaski fought out of Hybrid of Bremerton. Blaski took home a win for Hybrid via armbar (no surprises there, as Hybrid maintains their intensive focus in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).  

Of the six Pro-bouts, two of our home towners took the stage. Lonya Champion fought out of Rough House, Bremerton, and Carl Edwards (main event) fought out of Full Circle Fight Club, Bremerton.

Champion and Orr walked away from the bout disappointed after Orr tapped out due to landing in a position which compromised his arm in some way. No call was shared over the loud speakers.

Carl Edwards lost in the third round via decision to Darrio Mobley. Mobley, throughout each round, managed to accumulate points in high numbers. Edwards was able to land audibly powerful blows to Mobley throughout, but Mobley did maintain a calmness that even Edwards regarded admirably in a follow-up interview.

“I had to give him props,” Edwards said. “I hurt him, and I know that because I have broken peoples ribs before, just practicing. He was able to remain calm enough to where I had to try angering him,” said Edwards. He attempted to get verbally aggressive with Mobley in order to overwhelm him.

“He stayed collected,” Edwards continued. “There are a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Mobley celebrated with several of his trainors after the bout. “I wanted to keep him in side-mount,” said Mobley. Carl is faster, stronger, and more technical than the last time I fought him.”

Dark Horse Entertainment plans on bringing another highly saturated card on June 8th. Mobley will be competing again.


My boxing rebellion… Glimpsing, describing, discovering the sport at “Battle at the Boat 91″

March 20th, 2013 by Joshua Scott Beranis

I risk a bit of pain and confusion this Saturday, the 23rd of March. Not physical pain though, hopefully. I will suffer intellectual pain, and general dumbfoundedness.

Where I was, amid the first pangs of my curiosity toward Mixed Martial Arts competition a little over a year ago, I find myself once again.  I am making an investigative advance into the competitive sport of boxing. Honestly, I know very little. That needs to change.

As much as I love the MMA world, and as progressively more familiar with it I am becoming, I am still seeking something sacred.

Stepping in the ring against Jeff Holcomb really woke me up to the fact that, sure, you can have someone place you in a stance and give you basic instructions in blocking, kicking, and punching. You can watch all the fights you want. You can rent Dragon, the Bruce Lee story. You can go to the gym a couple times and get tossed around for practice. None of that really matters. You need to have the conditions in your life which are conducive to becoming a competitive fighter, or it will never happen.

Writing is my blues. It is what gives me a chance to perform and deliver a product with a particular intention. Fighting is attractive because the intention is quite simple. Winning is the intention.

When you observe a sport and become familiar with the rules, (and I’m repeating myself, but…) all the complicated politics of the world seem to disintegrate. The only politics that matter when you watch a sport are the rules and procedures of that sport. Losing in competition is obviously emblematic of death, but really, even the concept of death is more laid back when fighting is a competitive outlet.

Liberal, conservative, black, white, smart, dumb, it doesn’t matter in combat. Statistics matter, but even then, not everything that happens can be predicted, and no outcome is inevevitable based on mathematics alone. Mind and spirit are very real in these realms. Faith in yourself can have overwhelmingly positive effects on the outcome of a bout. Pride or ego can effect outcomes as well, and they do not always lead to victory.

What do I expect to find in boxing? I want to get a better glance at strategy. There is obviously strategy within MMA competition, but all it takes is a sneeze, or a glance away to jot down an important note, and you can miss the lightning strike. I want to see every lightning strike as it takes place, and to get a better idea of what this factor is that leads to competitive victory. 

Boxing, being channeled through punching, foot-motion, blocking, etc., will allow me to rest my mind on fewer descriptions. That is where Rougheart MMA Journal will begin to grow further.


Battle at the Boat 91 on 23 March, my first shot at covering boxing

March 6th, 2013 by Joshua Scott Beranis

On 23 March, I am going to be making a progression toward boxing. I will be attending Brian Halquist’s popular Emerald Queen promotion “Battle at the Boat”. This will be their 91st installment. Boxing is incorporated into MMA training, and I have seen its place in the Mandala of fighting techniques and schools within the MMA world.

I have seen wrestling take its place in the sport, as well as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I have seen boxing take a strange form, and martial arts of all sorts, from the secret arts of Arnese, to the popular mainstream arts such as boxing and Tae Kwon Do. They all have a place in MMA.
Boxing is still alive and well, and today’s boxing idols are even highly revered by the head fighters in the professional circuit of MMA. I am sure quite a few local pros would love to see how Floyd Money Mayweather stands against them in the cage.
That isn’t what this is about though. I am not asking about which sport is better, which is more important, etc. I am looking for origins, more fight-language. This will improve the MMA coverage.


Falling off the map blues

December 28th, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis

Dimming the lights, turning up some Robert Johnson on the stereo, and brewing a fine cup of coffee, I look to an empty note-pad and an unsharpened pencil on the clean kitchen table. I see my slight reflection in the window and consider the wet cold of Washington winter outside. The coffee-maker crackles, and I remember that I love that sound. I love that smell, like nothing else on earth, that fresh coffee smell.
Then there is the smell of pencil-shavings, an extra dusty sawdust scent that tickles your lungs a bit. I push a steak-knife to the unexposed graphite tip with my thumb, careful to slant the knife edge back up as I widdle out a dull point.
For a year now, I have contemplated the conditions leading up to two men entering the sanctioned cage. I came into this field completely mesmorized and overwhelmed. Other things have also come to mind, not all of which can be put into a format comparible to that technical one we would approach MMA with.
Maturity, and what that means, a thought which even bothers me a bit now. We can’t all be mature, but it would be a good idea to at least appear somewhat sane or intelligent. This is especially the case with writing about MMA, following people around asking them questions, pestering them for information when half of them could kill you with their bare hands. Don’t be stupid.
Also, how to write about the people regardless of the sport, is something which has moved me deeply. I have realized that even those at the highest pinnacle of cage-fighting competition face many of the obstacles and traps the rest of us are so familiar with. There is an underlying drive not just to achieve temporary victory, but to achieve a longer standing position of honorability which we can take further comfort in. We want our name to be worthy of the objects it will be etched upon. We are forever planting seeds, hoping for favorable outcomes.
Following suit, I too, find myself flesh and bone, trying not to fall off the map.


Wrestling… not so easy

December 10th, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis

On the first Tuesday conditioning session I have made it to at Full Circle in almost a year (with the intention of participating I mean), James Bergstrom asked if the few guys who showed up wanted to focus on wrestling. This was a smaller crew than I was used to seeing on Tuesdays, and I was a bit surprised at first. R.J. Hoyt and Dustin Praxedes were originally going to accompany me, but Hoyt is a pipe-fitter at the shipyard, and doesn’t have it all that easy as far as his schedule goes. Dustin, after a win against Brad Pole at last Saturday’s Point Casino “Pummel at the Point”, was probably exhausted from the adrenaline coursing through his veins for nearly a week. “This is usually how it rolls the week right after fights,” explained Bergstrom.
As for myself, I had been humbled into rethinking my approach to MMA.
I had seen the footage of my bout with Holcomb, and could now identify a handful of things I had done seriously wrong, even from an outsider’s perspective. Tilting my head away as punches came, hesitating after any solid strike, allowing kicking space, failing to throw a right of any sort that landed. I also realized I know nothing about wrestling. I needed a crash course to satisfy my curiosity. Bergstrom was happy to hear that I was up for it, no doubt wanting to have fun as well.
We warm up, to what Bergstrom and his crew must consider warming up, and what I consider a full workout. I was thrilled that I made it through without wanting to die, which if I still smoked cigarettes, I am sure I would have.
Will Montgomery walks in just as the wrestling lessons and activities begin. Montgomery’s fight against Steve Wing of Red Neck Militia, Oregon, was the bout which landed me a published review in Northwest Fightscene Magazine. It was a nail-biter, which could have gone in quite a few different directions throughout rounds. Since then, I have not seen Montgomery fight, but I have seen Wing in a grappling match which he had won. I have an idea of what these two are capable of.
When it comes to the wrestling aspect of cage fighting, I’m clueless.
Bobby Lawrence and Bergstrom give a fellow newbie and I some basic instructions for breaking away from a leg grip which I am still confused about, and maneuvering so that we might eventually end up with our arms locked favorably around our opponent. This is all fun at first, but when Bergstrom sees one of my attempts at mounting for a submission strike… “You look like a pregnant seal trying to dock itself,” he says. I can laugh about this, because it really wasn’t meant as a “fat-joke”, but even if it was, it was a pretty accurate statement. In the grand scheme of all my endeavors with Rougheart MMA Journal, one of my largest irritations is my lack of knowledge about wrestling. After last Tuesday, I can safely say that higher on my list of irritations is that wrastlin aint easy. At least not as easy as it looks.

Bergstrom curled me into a few common positions, and even got me with the “tickle me Elmo” submission. “Yeah, we don’t tap to the tickle me Elmo submission,” he explains, driving his fingers into my armpit as I am unable to escape. This was the most exercise I think that my abdominal muscles have ever had. Trying to escape from these positions seemed close to impossible to me, and the technical knowledge is weighty. Not as simple to write about as Joe punching Sam in the face with a left, and Sam kicking Joe in the ribs with a right. This involves reflective strategy, much like that required in a game of chess.

Bergstrom pits me against a 185′er named Matt, who looks a bit like Zangief from the video game “Streetfighter”. I have a hard time believing him when he tells me his weight-class. I think of Skyscraper Struve, the tallest fighter in the UFC right now, but sporting an over-sized beard. Matt thrashes me around like a rag-doll, and isn’t as friendly as Bergstrom when it comes to pinning someone down. My jaw is still a bit bruised from where he pushed the top of his head down on me against the gym mats. The only reason I didn’t tap at that point was because I couldn’t move my arms. At first, I was actually tapping my own torso, thinking “I know I give up!”

Then I was happy to be pitted against Will Montgomery, who I introduced myself to, and explained why he was one of my favorite fighters in the Northwest. Here is the review I wrote for Northwest Fightscene with him as the main event:

http://www.nwfightscene.com/CWC-ShipyardBrawl-IV.htm

Montgomery, like Matt earlier, also had the courtesy of not going easy on a newcomer. Like a boa constrictor, Montgomery found ways of bending my body until I felt like whimpering. I wanted to tap at one point when he had turned his entire body around to grab one of my legs while he pretty much used my face as a stool. The final position I ended up in would have been morbidly painful if he was in a serious competition and intended forcing someone to submit. I lay down looking up at the ceiling after our session was over, understanding now that there was just one more part of this MMA gig that I needed to get to the bottom of.

Wrestling, and grappling skills in general, can obviously turn a cagefighter into even more of a threat in the cage. If you land down on the mats when you had been hoping for a good stand-up fight, and have your face squashed under Will Montgomery while he ties your legs in knots at your knees and ankles, that could be the end of your bout, easily.

Bobby Lawrence mentioned Landon Showalter’s Arlington Submission Challenge to me, and suggested I should accompany them. I’m taking him up on the challenge, and will be running a feature on it in January. I need the knowledge.


Soft in the middle again

December 3rd, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis

So what is next for Rougheart? Finding out what it takes to get that sick MMA body that most people only dream about, and achieving it. It is a bit safer than fighting again any time soon, and for that matter, it is what I would need to achieve to feel comfortable competing again anyways.
Local pro Dustin Praxedes, and amateur superstar R.J. Hoyt Heat will be accompanying me for my first conditioning session at Full Circle Fight Club since I was shyed away almost a year ago. This takes place tommorow, Tuesday the fourth of December.
Throughout the following year, keep up with me, hell, join up with me as I go from gym to gym to learn from our local experts. It just got serious.
Also, as of next year, amateur rules are changing, and more protective equipment will be required for competition at the amateur level. Find out why these rules are being put into place, who is demanding it, and what fighters and fans think about it. All to come in a Wednesday night update here at Rougheart.


A pummel to victory: continued

December 3rd, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis

They stood me up, and the ref says “good job”. I’m making whooping noises as though I had just gotten off a rollercoaster, or perhaps… as though I had outswam a shark. However, I knew I had “lost”.
Stumbling a bit, I make my way for the open cage door.
I recalled that as I had lay flat on the mats, I was able to make out the muffled sounds of Jeff’s fans cheering for him. I had been gone though. My body dissappeared for a second, and as the call was made, one minute and twenty seconds via stoppage due to strikes, actually a knockout from my perspective of course, I was plucked from my previous life as the no-throw Buddhist hippie geek, and placed in a position of true reverance and admiration for the sport of MMA.
They stopped me before I could exit the cage, and led me to where Jeff stood, victorious. They raised his hand, holding mine in the down position. Again, his fans cheered. Jeff came over and gave me a giant hug, and I realized that I had been smiling, and I was still in awe at how incredible the experience itself was.
Exiting the cage, I was greeted by Ben, Dustin Praxedes’ corner man who had taken me as a stray for the bout, and Adam Larm, who came in as my water man. As I headed back to the trailer outside of the Point Casino, I was stopped by my friends, and commended for “having balls”. James Bergstrom patted me on the back and said “you did it”. Carl Edwards says “I’m proud of you man”. Multiple sentiments are being given to me on my trek through the crowd, and Jeff would later say that I really surprised him. Suddenly, “losing” wasn’t what I saw as having happened.
I wanted a piece of this world ever since I was a child, but I just didn’t realize it. I have been battling doubt, discomfort, inconvenience, fear, ignorance, anger, jealousy, hate, sadness, and laziness for my entire life. When I faced Jeff, and shot those jabs in his face, and tried to put him on the ground, all those strange politics of life evaporated, leaving only a straight line to a goal. That goal is to keep fighting.
I am a fighter. I should have known about this.
I want to write about this sport, and that part of ourselves that we leave behind when we enter the cage.


A pummel to victory

December 2nd, 2012 by Joshua Scott Beranis

Warning: The sport you are about to enter is not a joke. To enter, you have to be willing to accept the risk of pain, injury, embarassment, disfigurement, and even ridicule.

The thought had crossed my mind in the phone call to Holcomb, that this might not actually even take place, a fight between myself and the former Marine, former police officer, who is well versed in Mixed Martial Arts, knows the ropes, and has even lended me a seat as a sort of apprentice to his knowledge thereof.

“Well, I think I can get this blog up and running if I could get a fight,” I said. “I would like it to be against you.”

Holcomb went over this with me for a bit. He ran over a few possibilities of some of the local independent fighters with me, but I had my heart set, and I’m pretty sure he knew that.

“Are you sure you want me punching you and stuff, buddy?” he asks, trying to avoid the seriousness of the statement by chuckling a bit.

You have to realize, I know this guy is tough. He’d be tough even without any formal martial arts training, or any background in the military or police force, but he has quite a bit of knowledge. He had admitted to me once when he started training out of Full Circle Fight Club that he wasn’t as tough as he thought he was. Regardless, I can remember the story about Jeff dangling a fresh young punk over a balcony at Heads Up Brewery for getting rude with my wife who was my girlfriend at the time. I had to meet this guy.

It is hard not to love a person like Jeff, and it isn’t necessarily that there is anything specific you can place on it. He just happens to be the extraordinary type. He brews beer, beer brings crowds, crowds bring interesting individuals, and Jeff is just plain good with crowds. Probably something to do with that military experience. He is also a bit unpredictable. Somewhere in his experiences, it wouldn’t surprise me to discover that something turned in his life to make him decide he was going to squeeze it like a lemon.

Additionally, he has been behind my MMA writing 100%, and has done everything he can to help me make it succeed. While battling the obstacles to getting a fully operational brewery where he can perform his art as a master brewer, he hasn’t scrubbed me away as an annoyance, and has even gone so far as to become a proud sponsor of Cage Warrior Combat, and even Dustin Praxedes, local professional MMA fighter who is turning his body into an all-out MMA assualt weapon.

Let us talk about beer for a second, and seriously. This should not be a taboo subject, and I am not going to allow any finger-wagging when it comes to this. Especially when it comes to the local brewers, who are honest workers, their success depending almost entirely on science, creativity, and chance.  A good beer is hard to make, and skilled brewers are able to make it. Jeff is a skilled brewer.

Why am I bringing this subject up? Because I was there when Jeff worked at “Heads Up Brewery” in Silverdale, and I know the heartache they went through there. Everyone at Heads Up was well aquainted with one another, and very close. The exact details behind the closing of Heads Up is a bit beyond my knowledge, and none of my actual business, but I know it was a drag for everyone involved. They lost a good friend to a heart condition who had worked there with them, and it really shook the spirits of the crew.

Also, Jeff brewed the beer for my wife and I on our wedding day, and the wedding was amazing. A rainbow appeared over the reception-hall that day, cigars were smoked, and Jeff wore a kilt to the wedding, along with all the rest of the Heads Up Clan. Hard to forget. 

His beer, and his personality are marked as very valuable to my wife and I, and to our family and friends as well. So when I go to Valholl Brewing, on the rare occasion that my wife and I can work out the time between our children and work, it is with happiness for Jeff and his wife Katie, who deserve prosperity.

So, it was a difficult fight to take, because what can be said about getting into the cage with someone you genuinely care about, and attempting to break their face open? Jeff had a hard time with this, and I suppose I did too.

Carl Edwards, 3-1, had said something at first, before coming around and encouraging the fight with compassionate consideration. “I don’t know if its going to be the real thing, only because you might be holding back if you’re fighting your buddy.”

Something occured to me a few days later, when I began running at 224 to 226 lbs, to attempt cutting to 205. What if I did hold back? What good would that do for a friendship? If Jeff was willing to accept a fight with me, and take it seriously, didn’t he deserve the real thing?

I was actually a bit concerned that I might freeze up entirely, and that he would have no choice but to just submit me, or land one good safe strike that landed me out in the first round. I couldn’t let that happen.

Jeff told me a few weeks before the fight that he had begun to plateau around 218 lbs. We agreed on a catch weight instead of going to 205. 210 to 215 lbs was where we were aiming, and I knew that Jeff had a lot of beer to move, always has the big family to take care of, the brewery to worry about, minimal time to get in the gym, but an all out thirst to be in the cage and fight.

I had also heard through the grape-vine that he was obstaining from serious combative training, to give me a bit of a fair advantage.

Fine then. I was going to come in at a weight and stamina that had the potential to take this friend of mine out unexpectedly. I also took pointers from people across the board.

“Work that jab, work that jab. Stay on that outside foot,” Jonathan Moore told me one evening when I came up to visit him in the sleep lab. I had covered his last fight against Billy Walker from Everett, and it was the first published article I got in the Kitsap Sun. Moore showed me a few of the possible things Holcomb might attempt, whether standing, going to take me down, etc. I applied this to my regiment after my last few long runs pre-fight.

I pushed myself to that point the instructors all tried to get me at in bootcamp during a run, when your entire body just wants to quit. I pushed it for as long as I could, sprinted a few times during runs and went back down to jogging speed, held my arms up high to get the blood moving when I just couldn’t run anymore, and made sure to breath deep to keep that cardio good for the cage.

I also thought about all the different types of fear Jeff could instill in me from across the cage in the blue corner. What if he stomps and growls? I thought. I might piss myself if he snarls. So I would have to work on a game face.

What if I freeze up as I walk into the cage, go pale white, pass out… Oh no!

I would have to get a good entrance song going to pump myself up. My wife had suggested one of my favorite Beastie Boys tunes, “Sabotage”. That would get me going, and pump up that audience.

So last night, when Jeff and I were finally suited up in gloves, cups, mouthpieces, vasoline on our faces, face to face in that cage, I felt that fear and excitement. The color in the room changed. Everything got a bit more “real looking” for lack of a better word. The risk of defeat swept over me, and the chance at victory. I couldn’t believe it. It was astounding.

No turning back. Cage doors lock. I thought I might have a real advantage over Jeff now, because he was a bit heavier than me. I weighed in at 209.5, and he came in at 218 on the button. I could probably just gas him, and stumble him a bit with some jabs before I layed into him as he tired.

I was so wrong.

I came in to touch gloves, and Jeff had a look on his face that I hadn’t seen since being scolded for swearing as a child.

“Don’t quiver,” I thought. “That’ll just get me hurt. Look death at him. Be the Grim Reaper.”

I jab. He tilts back and I miss. I jab again, hard. It connects. I get pretty excited.

“Yeah, just keep doing that!” I thought to myself.

I was so wrong.

Jeff lands an earth shattering kick to my chest, just above my left lung.

“Crap! I can barely frickin breathe now. I’m gonna kill him!”

I was so wrong.

He throws a few more kicks. Most I can block with my arms up in the field-goal position.

“I can just gas him like this. I’ll just keep blocking his kicks. Wait for it. Wait for it.”

Again, wrong.

He connects to my lower left ribs with a meat cleaver of a kick that still smarts, and looks like a bloody tattoo of a foot-print.

“Wow. I must be going numb, because I don’t even care at this point.”

I jab again. It rocks him a bit. I’m very happy.

Jeff is not happy. Jeff connects with a few gorgeous strikes, and I thank my lucky stars for the vasoline which has somehow eased the strength of the connection to my face as his fist slides slimily away from my cheeks.

That was when Jeff went in to get me down. At some other point earlier, Jeff’s shin had somehow grazed my cup, jacking my genitals just enough to startle me. When my eyes had gone wide, the ref stopped us bolth immediately, and I had time to think as I pondered my junk, which was actually not in that bad of shape. It was a fluke. I nodded to the ref.

“He just brushed’em,” I said. Which sounded more like “Shhh ju bushhem,” through my mouthpeice.

But in that short time, a thought occured to me, which I had contemplated a bit earlier amongst others.

“I hope he tries to take me down, and he puts his head right where I can land him a punch on the button.”

I was right about him trying to take me down, but it was awkward. He moved to my right, if I recall correctly, and I knocked him somewhere on the side of his head. He gave up on taking me down, I lost sight of him, and then…

Songwriters: WILBUR SCHWANDT, GUS KAHN, FABIAN ANDRE
Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

Say “nighty-night” and kiss me
Just hold me tight and tell me you’ll miss me
While I’m alone and blue as can be
Dream a little dream of me

Stars fading but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longing to linger ‘til dawn, dear
Just saying this
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/beautiful+south/dream+a+little+dream_10027138.html ]
Sweet dreams ‘til sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

Stars fading but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I’m longing to linger ‘til dawn, dear
Just saying this

Sweet dreams ‘til sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries far behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

Sweet dreams ‘til sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams, all worries far behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams

***
“Do you know where you are?” the medic asks.
“Yep.”
I was on the mat in the cage, at the Point Casino Event Center.
 
(to be continued)

 


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