Rougheart MMA Journal

Joshua Beranis covers the mixed martial arts scene in Kitsap County and beyond.
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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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