I first started reading the “Diary of a Fighter” series on MMASucka.com last summer while in preparation for my first amateur fight. The fighter I was reading up on was Nathan Swayze. A well established amateur fighter whom I had met, and faced at the Tiger Balm Pankration Tournament. At the time, Nathan was on the verge of turning pro and headlining the event for which I was training. At the last minute his opponent, Jer Kornelson dropped out of the fight due to an unfortunate training injury. After searching for a replacement I was contacted by the promoter about stepping up for the main event. On short notice, this turn of events catapulted me in both weight class and competition. Young and green, I didn’t really take my training seriously. A few sessions on the mats and a camping trip later I felt ready to fight, or so I thought. Although I was a relative unknown, I couldn’t understand why I was labelled the underdog; I had beaten him in pankration and obviously full punching couldn’t get in the way of me taking it to the ground. How wrong I was. The fight started and before I knew it Nathan was introducing his hand to my temple, dropping me like a sack of potatoes. He continued to pummel me until an unsuccessful choke allowed me to struggle to my feet, where I was quickly dropped again. Somehow, this all happened in the first 3 minutes. The second round started and I remembered that as a wrestler, I should wrestle. I took him down and managed to secure an arm bar to finish the fight. I learned a few good lessons from the fight: I can take a punch, and I needed to learn how to fight.
Since then, I’ve been climbing the ranks in Battlefield Fight League. In October I had a first-round victory over Andre DaSilva, a monster 185-pound Capoera fighter from Brazil, and a recent loss at a 175-pound catch-weight fight in the main event of BFL 6 against the seasoned Matt Dwyer. The weight cut was brutal, but wasn’t the reason for me losing. Matt showed me that my game has a lot of room for improvement, both standing and on the ground. Improvements I plan to make on my road to the pros.
Joining West Coast BJJ has made all the difference in making the transition from a very unconventional wrestler with a few submissions learned on youtube, to a developing young fighter. I’m not saying I’m ready to have a stand-up battle, but I am getting there with the help of all the great guys at West Coast. We now have an MMA program under the tutelage of pro fighter Shawn Albrecht, with training sessions every morning at 6am and every afternoon. Commitment to full-time training forces young fighters to make many sacrifices in their pursuits. For instance, I live in a tiny one-bedroom basement suite, and when I say tiny I mean tiny. My bedroom just fits my bed, my living-room is a hallway, and the ceiling in isn’t tall enough for me to stand upright in some places. Now add to this that I have TWO people living on my couch, both of them fighters and fellow Burnaby mountain wrestlers: Daniel Swain (3-0) pro and Jake Lindell (3-0) amateur. Welcome to my mini Ultimate Fighter house, all the bang with none of the space. Regardless, we are all willing to give up a lot so we can dedicate ourselves to our training.
So that’s it. That’s the background to the beginning of my journey on becoming a professional in the sport of mixed martial arts. I will be updating this blog every couple of weeks, giving you guys a heads up on my progress and on the inevitable setbacks that come with a sport like MMA. As it stands, my next fight is coming up on May 28th at BFL8 in Nanaimo against the fighter I replaced in my first fight against Nathan, Jer “The Jerk” Kornelson. The winner fights for the vacant amateur 185lbs title against Justin Lansing. I plan on winning this title and defending it once before making the jump to the professional ranks. First step: Beat Kornelson.
Thank you to all my friends, coaches and teammates who make all of this possible. And also a big thanks to my sponsors. Tapout Canada, Dominant Ground, Klench kustom mouthguards, Passion Sports, Fine Art Bartending and Reflex on Kingsway. Also, check out www.kombatnation.com.