Championship Belt

I’m nervous.  I think I’m sweating actually, even though I haven’t run anywhere.  My mind however, is racing as I walk into the Meadows Casino to meet Jeff Michalec, the VP of operations for King of the Cage.

This is my first MMA fight.  I’m usually either trying to get away from fights that I’ve seen or trying to stop them.  As Jeff seats me right next to him, ringside, in the best seats in the house, it starts to really set in.  Not sure how I feel about it, definitely excited, but thinking, I’m so close, am I going to get these men’s blood and sweat on me?  Fights I’ve seen in my life have always scared me, I didn’t know how I was going to feel watching someone get the crap beat out of them right in front of me.  I feel bad and scared for them.

As the first fight started and I looked in each of the fighters eyes as they touch gloves, I see this is not what like I have seen before.  They both want this, they love it.  I watch fight after fight and see the determination and passion in each one of the fighter’s eyes as they begin the fight.  I see how the person feels as the other guys arm is raised at the end and I FEEL how the opposing fighter feels as his arm is raised by the ref determining him the winner.  I started out worrying about getting blood on me and shortly into it, seeing how close I can get to the action with my Nikon.

Jennifer Weifenbach

Jennifer Weifenbach

Once the championship fight is over, I and my partner begin trying to catch these guys for an interview.  I first met with Jordan Griffin from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Jordan was there to defend his title, fought a great fight but in the end had to hand over the belt for this one.  Jordan has been fighting since he was 19 yrs. old, over 7 years. When asked about his bow before he fights, he speaks of having respect for his opponent.

Jordan teaches a martial arts class in Milwaukee, and that’s what they teach.  Respect. Jordan explains, “This is a rough sport, physically, mentally, and I think that when you don’t show respect for your opponent, show respect for others, it makes it even harder, so I try and show respect for my opponents by bowing before the fight. I put a beating on them, and bow when it’s over. After that, we leave the cage, and we have good blood. Loser buys beers”.

While Jordan was buying them tonight, he did it holding his head high and with respect to his opponent and now title holder Juan Archuleta.

What touched me most about this experience and really changed how i viewed MMA fighting, now that I’ve seen it first hand, is when we asked about advice he would give to young fighters. Jordan actually got emotional with this question and I saw just how much passion he has for this sport.

He answered, “Just dedicate yourself to the sport, don’t give half of yourself to it and expect to make it to the UFC, it doesn’t work that way, you have to put hours, and hours, and hours, and never give up.”

I began to realize the amount of heart, work and determination it takes for these fighters, and I am not scared for them anymore, rather inspired by what these guys endure for the love of the sport.

I was invited back for the next one and I won’t be sweating because I’m nervous, I’ll be sweating because I’m running to get my ringside seat, back in the action.

 

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