I have nothing to be stressed about, but regardless, my guts hurt. Last week, I hit up Cage Sport XXI at Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, driving to and from the event, Tacoma and back, Tacoma and back. This was on the invitation of Brian Halquist Productions, who had set me in coordination with Sun Sports to have a seat in a press-box for the fights which would be aired on Root Sports. It was brought to my attention that my presence would be appreciated for a press conference as well. Of course, having a rather glutenous ego, and a far reaching goal of being that “writer-guy” I had always dreamed of becoming, I scraped up gas-cash between my wife and I, and huffed it to the conference and the event.
Equipped with my trusty digital voice recorder, gifted to me from Jeff Holcomb of Valholl Brewery in Poulsbo (sponsorship), a decent camera, Tom Waits new album “Bad As Me” on CD, my lap-top computer, a few pencils and pens, writing paper, I fled Kitsap. The hope was to get an article or a column in the sports section of The Kitsap Sun, and to see a few good fights while doing so.
Brian Halquist even asked Danny Bonaduce to call my house and give me a quick interview. The call popped up as a private number, while I was pulling my daughter out of the tub and wrapping her in a towel. My wife, doing what we usually do when we see a private number on the caller I.D., waited for a message. So my interview with Danny Bonaduce consists of “Hey Josh, this is Danny Bonaduce. Brian Halquist told me to give you a call. Talk to (you) later.” So Larry King, eat your heart out. That’s how you do a celebrity interview in my town.
I got to the press conference Friday night before the fights, and I guess I was expecting a welcoming committee. I forget that these events are time consuming. The people involved have more to worry about then who comes to cover the story. The fighters are the real rockstars anyways.
I also realized early on that no Kitsap fighters were actually in on the action in the cage. The majority of fighters were from Washington, but all of them were from out of town. Not a lot of hope for a column in the Sunday paper.
At the actual event on Saturday night, I had no idea where to sit as press. So I found a security guard who had helped me with some complications involving my press pass earlier that day.
“Hey, you’ve been the most helpful security guy I’ve run into,” I told him. “Think you might be able to point me in the right direction as to where I’m seated?”
“You’re press, right?” He asks.
I almost felt like I was lying to him when I said yes. I certainly didn’t feel like press.
“Yeah,” he said, looking down at the camera strapped around my neck.
He brings me directly to the brightly lit cage, I’m beside myself with encouragement and excitement. I haven’t had cage-side access since my first experience with Cage Warrior Combat, when Jeff Holcomb and I were pursuing involvement in local MMA last year. The real hunger grew for us when I covered Jonathan Moore’s fight against Billy Walker at Rumble On The Ridge. Ever since then, I knew I couldn’t just stop writing about it. I was addicted. I was infatuated with the sport.
I sat down at the cage-side table and immediately recognized someone to my left. Mike Renouard of Northwest Fightscene Magazine. He humored me as I snapped a photo of him beside the cage. I guess I wanted proof that this was all moving so fast. Here I was with a camera, a recorder, and a waitress bringing me a drink. Just as quickly as it had been given, the rug got pulled out from under my feet, and I was immediately humbled. I was Jefferey Lebowski, and the item that really tied the room together had been swiftly taken away. Escorted to a table among other local MMA writers with websites and columns I knew nothing about, I sat, red in the face, with two cups of ice melting in front of me.
I also received a paper placard displaying my misspelled name, and beneath it, text reading “Kitsap Sun”. Fitting. “Rougheart MMA Journal is not going to make an appearance here tonight,” I thought. I felt alone.
Then something happened which I did not expect. Two familiar faces, both of them fighters from Kitsap County, Dustin Praxedes and Rob “Ironman” Cann, recognized me, and came up to shake my hand. They knew my name, they knew my face, and they knew Rougheart MMA Journal. This was what I needed.
So, putting my best foot forward, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Sure, it would be a rough and hungry ride home, and I would be exausted, but now it was worth it. The fights were amazing, and I was able to cover the event gracefully, even learning a few things about these televised events in general.
So I will feel very comfortable, and very much at home this Saturday at Cage Warrior Combat. Where I know I have a good seat, and where I know my story will be read.
Is it wrong to want that great seat? Am I not working for it?
This is my cage, and my opponents are many. The biggest opponent might be my ego, and my temper, but just the same, those two things have served me well so far, as I try to climb to that high chair. That chair where I might get the eagle-eye view into the heart of this phenomenon which is Mixed Martial Arts. Look for my name.