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Join me in the “Cutter Club” at the Point Casino, tonight after the MMA event…

I have a lot of thinking to do, and notes to go over. There are dozens of atheletes arriving to this evenings Cage Warrior Combat event, and the writing will start immediately. So you will find me after the lights dim around the cage, enjoying a fine cigar and a glass of cognac in the luxurious Cutter Club cigar lounge as I put some words to paper, and possibly even interview some of Kitsap’s great fighters.

Happy Holidays from Rougheart MMA Journal. Hope to see you all on the first of December.

Save that date people. Get on Brownpaper tickets and get your seats while you still can. I’ve heard a rumor that this “Pummel At The Point” is going to have quite the crowd.
We have Matt Kovacs, Carl Edwards, Dustin Praxedes, our favorite Oregonians from Red Neck Militia, and you’d better believe that all three of our gyms from Bremerton are going to be pumped up and ready for a fight.
Yours truly is going to be stepping into the cage for the first time as well, against Valholl Brewing’s Jeff Holcomb. Tag me on facebook, and shout out to your favorite fighters. Contact me if you want interviews.
Have a safe and happy holiday season. Hear from you soon.

My only real fear about the fight? Running out of steam…

When I first tried to do a Tuesday conditioning session with Full Circle Fight Club of Bremerton, I was smoking about a pack of camels a day, and the most excersise I got was while I worked at the hospital.
James Bergstrom had incorporated a jump-roping session into the conditioning workout, and I remember thinking that if it wasn’t for the embarassment of people seeing me give up, I would have just rolled over and fallen asleep on the mats. It was an awful display of my lack of endurance, flinging those ropes around like my arms were made of tar, and like my legs weighed three hundred pounds each.

That burn you feel in your stomach, and in your muscles, and in your lungs, if you’ve ever tried to push yourself further than you comfortably want to go, faster when your body is telling you to slow down, was enough to drive me away from trying it again. I had to make changes. That I knew.

Well, the birth of my now eight month old daughter Harper marked the beginning of my battle against cigarettes. I am officially a non-smoker, and on my daughter’s first birthday, I will be celebrating a year without cigarettes.
I owe a lot of that to the realization that something was severely wrong while I worked out at Full Circle to try to get a taste of what MMA was about.
So now, with what I feel is a new set of lungs, and a bit more of a fire under my ass about getting into shape, my fight with Jeff Holcomb is fast approaching.
I still have a ton of work to do in the way of interviewing Tad Bremer and Mingo Reyna of Cage Warrior Combat, who I have heard are expecting a pretty decent turnout for Decembers “Pummel at the Point”. In addition to that, I have a dozen very serious bouts to consider coverage on for the paper.
I am hoping to get all three gyms, Rough House, Hybrid, and Full Circle, on front pager. Something about the holiday season seems to be getting these MMA fighters pepped up, and I think it is just that this is what they love to do.

I can’t lose momentum now. Things are too close. I have to get out there, ask the hard questions, and keep bringing that burn. I was excited to make it through a session at Hybrid with Andrew Ramm, and Brock Gorang, who are on the upcoming card. It is encouraging, but humbling, seeing what people in the appropriate condition for an MMA match are capable of.
So keep your fingers crossed for me this week. I am going to be doing a lot of running, a lot of striking, a lot of pushups, sit-ups, eight-count body builders, squats, and dare I even say it… saying my prayers baby.

Conversations both on and off the table: Dustin Praxedes the man, and the fighter.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to discover that he is an MMA fighter. Even his speech is particular, as if he is prepared for verbal debate. He also has the type of energy which strikes me as that of someone you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of, but I am no psychologist. It could just be that I wouldn’t personally want to get in a bar-room brawl with him. He’s just a bit intimidating up close and personal.
So when I asked Mr. Praxedes about his training regiment for this December 1st “Pummel At The Point”, and he told me “it’s top secret,” with a very serious look on his face, I accepted it as a subject left off the table.
I can honestly tell you that there is a good reason to be excited about his up and coming bout. It has a lot to do with his attitude, which is reserved, serious on a business level, but positive. You could probably pit him in against St. Pierre right now and he would still feel confident. In case someone might feel that is my bias speaking, I am not talking about any certainty that he will triumph, but rather, that he himself feels certain. Good for him too. A record he has not been altogether proud of has been shaking him a bit, and after one victory and a no-show in October on behalf of his opponent, Dustin is starving to climb from the well with every intention of putting his soul into the effort.
“I hear people say it all the time to me,” he tells me from across my kitchen table. “Just getting in the cage is enough because it takes guts. That isn’t good enough for me. If that’s true, than why isn’t just waking up good enough?”
I’ve heard it in the form of a Sikh maxim before. The first act of courage for the day is getting out of bed.
I speak with him again Monday, and meet up with him for a serious one on one, and some pointers for my own bout against Holcomb. I’m down to 214 now from 226 lbs, and still dropping. Keeping it going, and absorbing any inspiration I can from those I have been watching enter the cage on a regular basis.

Drama on the road to the cage

Apparently because the event I’m fighting at is at the casino where my wife works, there has been some drama. Someone who knows me there was kicked out last night for bothering Theresa about how they can’t believe I’m doing this. I have a bit of a reputation as a mushy hippy Buddhist geek, and that reputation isn’t inaccurate. I will always be more writer than fighter.
People need to understand something, and it is time I make it clear. Yes, I am getting into that cage with the all out intention of winning, and if I see the bout going south for me I will not be going down without a fight.
Again, so nobody is confused, I am getting this under my belt in order to improve how I cover this sport for the Kitsap Sun. The goal, the ultimate goal, is to get more support from Kitsap for these fighters. This is a great sport, and I don’t understand why I cant be covering it every day. There is a huge fan base out there, and legitimate atheletes for them to become acquainted with in their own county.
Rob Ironman Cann, RJ Hoyt, AJ Webber, Carl Edwards, Kyle Cavazos, Jake Blaski, Dusting Praxedes, and tons of other up and coming talents. This is an exciting, even gut wrenching sport, that deserves coverage to a highly technical and detailed degree.
That is why I am going in against Holcomb. He is from the old school of cagefighting, when it was starting out, and has never been in a sanctioned fight. He is tough as nails though. He once grabbed a man by the neck and held him over a balcony for getting fresh with my wife. Which is why she is so concerned about me doing this.
But I need to. For a number of reasons I need to. I want this to be what I do.
Its all about dropping weight now too. That and building leg arm and abdominal strength.

On Pride: A Tribute To The Fallen On Veterans Day

Pride is a funny thing. For example, I’m a veteran, and veterans day is coming up. So I should be proud of myself, right? Well, okay. I tip my hat and show my gratitude when I am thanked for my service to the country, but as far as being “proud” is concerned, I am a bit stingy about the definition of it.
Honestly, I hated the Navy. Almost every second of being in. There were those times when people told me something to the effect of “you should be proud of yourself for making such a sacrifice”, and that part of the brain with the stoic self-portrait of myself in those crisp Navy Blue cracker-jacks, fired off in all sorts of strange directions.
Sacrifice… Now there’s another funny word. What the hell do these words mean?
I associate the word sacrifice with the scene from King Kong, where the blond damsel is offered up to an oversized gorilla. Not exactly what my Naval experience should be likened to. I was well fed in the Navy, given plenty of time off, partied as though I faced the electric chair, and am lucky that I wasn’t arrested for some of the stupid things I’ve done.
What people are talking about when they say “proud service” is that they are grateful to you for placing yourself in harms way, and if you are Army or Marine corp, you are risking your life to a degree beyond the likes of what most men and women will ever know. That is the picture people have in thier heads when they thank a veteran for his or her service to the United States.
It is extraordinary behavior for human beings. Something, for at least a short period of time, is requiring you to exert yourself for the sake of others, and if you have any worth, you’ll be able to shut your enormous trap for at least a long enough period of time to get a job done. Where pride stands in all of this, is that place in ourselves where we hope that we are appreciated for our “sacrifices”.

Is it unjustified to consider life to be a test of our own strength and will? It is wonderful to have a day dedicated to our servicemen and women, but for me, it is day of mourning for those who never had the chance to look back upon their service as that monument to themselves; that they were strong enough to seek the glory of risk and determination.

If you really want to honor a service member, wake up and watch the sunrise. Go get a glass of that top shelf Cognac and sip on it while you listen to your favorite rock band. If you feel like going the extra mile, do something you always dreamed of doing. Write a book. Get in your garage and put that old Mustang together.

Pride isn’t tangible. It isn’t something you can put on a sandwich, buy a ticket to the movie theater with, or use to pay for your children’s college education. Ask yourself how thankful you are for having a choice as to whether or not to even get out of bed. When you get out of that bed, if you are truly thankful, you’ll be trying to achieve something great, and with those in mind who would have done things far greater.

Month In, Running Hard, Jeff at two gym workouts a day. Am I in for a whoopin?

My wife is concerned at this point. I have been running, yes. In fact I did a four mile trek to and from my house Thursday that has left me with wobbly legs and half-broken spirits.

Jeff tells me he is in the gym twice daily now. This is good news. The strain of the fight being only a month away is causing me to step it up a bit on the excersises and running. Down to two full sprints, one in the middle of the run, and one at the immediate end. Leading it right into sets of push-ups and sit ups. Still concerned about stiking techniques. Going to youtube some basics and see what I come up with. Will have to impliment striking into the workout. Hard balance with kids and work in addition to trying to squeeze in training. Very impressed with our local fighters balance of these particularities.

The Next Step: I Fight In The Cage At 205 lbs. Against Jeff Holcomb

Across the board it is being called a bad idea. So most everyone has suggested this not be the plan of action for me. Against the good advice of those who have been doing this professionally, and those who are familiar with the sport to degrees much higher than my own, I will be fighting Jeff Holcomb on December 1 at The Point Casino.

I just don’t feel like I can give the reader everything they are looking for in MMA journalism unless I start taking bigger risks, and modify my schedule (much to my expense) to fit with the lifestyle of someone who takes this sport very seriously, and  has entered the cage themselves.

The regiment has already begun. I am dieting, exercising, and seeking further light in the realm of MMA as far as training and technique. What I am doing is not something anyone should do, especially having minimal training, and going up against a former pro who has agreed to fight an amateur bout to help me get a taste of the sport’s reality.

If I am going to take a risk, I might as well risk everything. Besides, the blog is suffering from the constraint of a rigid and unpredictable work schedule, and writing is the only thing that has kept me sane during these hard times. It is time.

So watch your local MMA writer pull a sort of impractical publicity stunt, not just with the aim of promoting himself, but with the aim of getting hands on experience which will shape future coverage of MMA.


Pummel At The Point: Promoter Tad Bremer Fights Odds Against Multiple Promotions State-Wide

The list of MMA promotions for this Saturday the 13th, is extensive, and should leave the local fans to wonder where they will be heading for a good cage fighting event. Among the names of these scheduled events are “Young Guns” out of Camas Center in Usk, “Proving Grounds” at Hub Sports Center in Liberty Lake, “Midas Fighting Championships” out of Club Midas in Chehalis, “Big Town Beat Down” at Shelton High School in Shelton, “Leave No Doubt” at Club Zoo in Vancouver, and “Battle At The Bay” at Swinomish Casino in Anacortes. Phew! Let me catch my breath.

In Kitsap, the show to see is “Pummel At The Point”, which is installment number two of Tad Bremer’s Dark Horse Entertainment productions. Featured on the card will be Brad Foust, making his professional debut, A.J. Webber, 3-1, Rob “Ironman” Cann 8-2, and Dustin Praxedes at 2-7.  While Hybrid fighters Brock Gorang and Jake Blaski will be featured on the Swinomish card in Anacortes, Hybrid will be represented at the Point Casino by Andrew Ramm (4-0-1). 

Doors to the event center will be opening earlier than the last event. This time they open at 3 p.m., and the fights start at 4 p.m.

The Week Before Fight-Night, Cage Warrior Combat at The Point Casino, Saturday.

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.