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
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
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.