Tuesday, February 21, 2006

King of the Cage

Well, the King of the Cage is now over, I won by TKO (referee stoppage) in the 2nd round. The whole weekend was very professional. I got to the hotel at about 4pm on Thursday, three hours before weigh ins. I had already lost the neccasary weight to make the 205 limit, so my brother and I just relaxed.
We met up with my manager Gary Marino and another one of his fighters Carlos Neieves(who came to enjoy the show), and headed over to weigh-ins. The weigh-ins were held at a bar, which was a little strange, but there was an announcer, people watching, and Sherdog.com taking pictures and video. After weigh-ins, we all went and got something to eat, before heading back to the hotel.
The day of the fight was great, I love having all day to relax before competition. Especially, since I knew that I had done the work and was ready to fight. I also enjoy watching movies before I fight, we watched Boondock Saints, Without Limits, and most of Troy. Despite being in Moline, Illinois I did have a few fans on hand. My parents were able to drive down from Rockford and my sister in law Tori was nice enough to drive my 4 months pregnant wife the 7 hours from Columbus. I am sure it was not an easy drive for Tori, but I appreciate it and loved having Missy there.
I had also found out during the day that Bryan Zanders (the guy I was suppose to fight), never showed up and wasn't answering any calls. Monte Cox (the promoter) assured me that he had fighters ready for circumstances like this and that I would be fighting. This close to the competition, I couldn't let it bother me at all. It wasn't like my game plan was going to change. So a guy named Josh Tabile took the fight. He told me after the fight that he had been training and was ready to fight, but you still have to admire a guy who takes a fight in a pay per veiw show on same day notice. I told him that I owed him a rematch for what he did.
So finally, it was time to head over the the arena. When I walked in, I was blown away. It was a huge 10,ooo seat venue, they had the cage elevated with spotlights on it, they had a ramp for the fighters to walk down, and the huge jumbo-tron was playing the action and replays. The dressing rooms were huge, with tv's playing the fights so you knew when you were gonna be up. I was the 4th fight of the night, so I started my warm up early. When it was my turn to fight, they walk you to a backstage area. They stopped me at the bottom of a small flight of steps that my opponent was on the top of. They announced him and I walked to the top of the steps. When I got to the top, I was at the top of the ramp leading to the cage, about 35 yards away. I could see the whole crowd, it was amazing. Then the music started playing, they put a spot light on me and turned on the smoke machines, I had to stand there until the camera man said to walk forward. As I walked down the ramp, all the fans that lined in were giving me the high 5 and cheering. I tried to put on my tough guy face, but it was too much fun, I smiled all the way to the cage.
Finally, after 6 hard weeks of preperation and everything else that goes into it, I was in the cage facing a real opponent. I watched them slam the cage door shut (my favorite part for some reason) and Referee Herb Dean (of the UFC), looked at me and said "Are you ready to fight?" I nodded yes and the fight was on. I took him down right away and began working a key lock, when that didn't come easily I punched him in the ribs and head. I would have loved to throw elbows, but it is illigal in Illinois. I did'nt know that untill about 2 hours before the fight and a lot of my game plan revolved around elbows. It worked out anyway. So the first round ended with me on top. When I got to my corner, Carlos suggested that I mount him and just punch him till the ref stops it. That sounded like a good idea since he kept slipping out of my submission attempts. I looked across the cage before the 2nd round started and could see that I opened up his right cheek pretty good and he just looked beat. So, right at the start of the 2nd I rushed over, threw a couple punches, then took him down. When we got to the ground, I threw a few short punches to his stomach, mounted him and began throwing punches to his head and gut. It didn't take long after that for the ref to stop the fight. I got my hand raised and walked out of the cage.
Probably, the coolest part was walking back to the dressing room. They don't let you go back up the ramp, you have to walk through all the ring side tables. All the fans high 5ing you, asking for pictures, and offering you beer. It was awesome. I wish I could fight there every week!!!
As usual, I have to thank the people that got me ready to fight. My training partners Rex Holman, Josh Williams, Freddy Parish, Brian Keefe, and my brother Danny. My manager Gary Marino, there is no way that I could do this without him. He takes care of everything, more than you could ever expect. Carlos Neieves was real helpful keeping me relaxed and suggesting technique. My sponsors Full Contact Fighter and Spice Bar and Lounge.
Also, thank you to my sister in law Tori for coming to support me and bringing my wife Missy!!
This fight will air March 10 on Pay Per Veiw, it was a great show, with a lot of good fights.

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