Friday, December 12, 2014

Black eyes and Blue Belts

Enjoying my new blue belt and the view from my roof!

I walked out into the pharmacy around 5 0'clock clutching my beloved Iphone 3 that contained the picture of the atadura or wraps that I just bought to tape my hands in a couple of hours. I was livid as I popped in my headphones and walked to the beach to catch the bus to BarraShopping.  From BarraShopping I would need to take a taxi (R50) to my fight. I expected the whole trip to take about 3hrs, and I was right, I didn't arrive at the venue until 8:30-9PM

This is what Joe is for. At MiKiDo I would have never had to catch the bus by myself to go to a fight because we have a Joe, also known as the boy, who does.... well he does everything. So yeah, I was pretty livid as I walked to the beach thinking about how I could/should be riding easy in a hybrid on my way to my first MMA fight. I miss 1st world problems.

While fight day is normally a time to relax and focus, I woke up with a lot of problems to resolve.

Problem 1: Sponsors
After weigh ins yesterday, I managed to land myself a supplement sponsors thanks to Tiguerinho, one of my MMA coaches. I came home with a bag full of  protein, BCAA, Glumatine, and some other goodies thanks to Vitafor. The only stipulation was that I need to compete  the next day with their logos on my fight shorts and work out shirt and the academy was currently out patches! whomp whomp.

The people who I have begged to bring me should understand 
how much a supplement sponsor means to me <3

That's why at 11 A.M. on the day of my fight, instead of chilaxing in bed, I was at the gym picking up patches from my boy Jhonata. I then had to haul my butt back to the favela to find someone that could sew the patches on right away, which is not an easy feat!

Problem 2: Corners
My second problem was that I was suddenly without any corners. Finding two people to yell at you to keep your hands up and put a chair out for you to sit down was supposed to be the easiest part of the fight... or so I thought.

Corner #1 was supposed to be Claudinha. Which would have been all sorts of bad ass to have here there cornering me. Not only is she an undefeated MMA fighter now living it up in the UFC, she also is my only friend with a car (this fight was REALLY far away), AND she speaks English (This was important since I misunderstood something VERY important that cost me a gold medal at Rio Open). However, on top of training for her fight this Saturday, cutting weight for said fight, getting ready to travel to the US for a month, arranging my fight, AND coaching me during sparring sessions... she also had to take her finals because she is in college. So, corner one was out, physically at least because she was still sending me texts and encouragement to keep me motivated as I battled it out on Rio's public transportation. She eventually had to send me two new corners as well!

Corner #2. Where as I knew a week in advance that Claudinha might not be able to make it to the fight. Corner number #2 informed me a couple of hours before I needed to leave that he was working. Go figure. I might have been pissed if he wasn't the reason I am now sitting pretty in a blue belt with a shelf full of supplements again! (The story of my blue belt is another awkward tale for another time).
Did I mention that I FINALLY got my blue belt! 
and this amazing Kimono thanks to Cascagrossa

So there I was, the day of my fight at 5 PM walking out of a pharmacy with no ride and no corners and heading off to my first MMA fight. #DOLO

Thank god for Small Miracles

My small Miracles arrived on a motorcycle around 9 P.M, one hour before the fights were supposed to start. Poliana, one of my sparring partners, and Rubens, my boxing coach from Nobre Arte came to corner and keep me company after a last minute text from Claudinha.

Side note on Nobre Arte:
Nobre Arte located in my neighborhood here in Cantagalo and is run by Claudio Coelho, apparently one of the most famous boxing coaches in Brazil. While most academies have strict no cross training rules, Nobre Arte trains a lot of people from all of the top gyms in Rio including Nova Uniao, Brazilian Top Team, Blackhouse/Xgym, Rio Fighters, and apparently most of the Gracies have passed through there as well (Yesterday I met Carlson Gracie Junior).
I prefer training boxing at Nobre Arte because they don't take any BS. Where as you may be able to half ass your way through a boxing class at Nova Uniao, Rubens and Claudinho are quick to kick you out of training the second you slack off. Since losing my fight I have been invited to their sparring sessions by Claudio. This is an incredible honor and made me feel like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. Sparring under the watchful eye of Claudio will definitely improve my stand up game. 

Back to the fight...
Rubens and Poliana arrived in time to warm me up, find someone to tape my hands, and corner me.
After losing my fight, Rubens stayed true to his no BS style. I was given ice, told to sit down, and then sent right home to rest. I originally planned to go hang out with my fellow gringos at Connection Rio, but he wasn't having any of that business, instead he found a truck to throw his bike on and we headed home. On the way back, I was yelled at for a good 30 minutes about how crappy my boxing was.

Oh snap, you were in the UFC
and problem number 3!

So, once I got to the fight i discovered problem number 3: I didn't have anyone to warp my hands (This is what Rob is for!). So Rubens found this skinny guy, with an arm sleeve, and some wild hair to do it for me. He was with my other friend and fellow gringo that would also be fighting Torryn Heffelfinger (while as I got my ass whooped, I walk out of the pit clutching my icepack just in time to see the legs of Torryn's opponent flying in the air as he gets thrown down, I'm going to train private wrestling classes with him on hopes of getting on his level). I know who Torryn is, I used to live with him at Connection Rio, his friend on the other hand, was an unknown face to me.

So he is taping my hands and strikes up a friendly conversation in English it went something like this.

Him: What's your favorite position (PHRASING!!!!!)
Me: Eh, I'm a kickboxer I like stand up. What about you?
Him: I invented the Anaconda Choke.
Me: ....seriously? What's your name?
Him: Milton
Me: (looks at his shirt, and my friends shirt, and about 6 other peopls shirt which says RIO FIGHTERS/ MILTON VIEIRA) "Oh shit your Milton Vieira!"

Its not uncommon for me to meet famous people here without having any clue who they are (i.e. Glover Texeira, Kit Dale, Terere, Roberto Leitao, Yan Cabral, Carlson Gracie), but this was the first time I did something so stupid as to ask who they were to their face!

On not recognizing people.
I spent a good 3 months thinking Yan Cabral was a look a like named Liam. I even googled images and tried to match up identifying tattoos with no avail... probably because Yan falls into the 10% (90% of Cariocas* tattoo huge names accross their forearms. I'm not a big fan of the style, but it makes it every easy to identify people). 

*Carioca: native of Rio de Janeiro. 
Easily identified by their lack of clothes, accent, and propensity to use curse words. 

I may have lost my fight... but at least I kept it classy, with my hands wrapped PrideFC style by the inventor the of Anaconda choke (Pride is like Japan's UFC).

You Can't Do Epic Shit With Basic People
I saw this on IG marketing a brand called DRUGS (do right you gain success)

I definitely learned a lot going through this fight camp and I have to thank the following people:

Dede: Whether Brazilians know it or not, Nova Uniao has a reputation for not being Gringo friendly. If it weren't for Dede I wouldn't be training at Nova Uniao at all, let alone doing it for free. I may be scared as hell of him, but he is the one letting me live the dream!

Claudinha: Thanks for arranging my fight, helping me through training, and making sure I always have everything that I need whether its fight related or not. I wouldn't have had this fight without you and you did it all while preparing for one of the biggest fights in your own career.

Poliana: Thanks for always being there during training, helping corner me during sparring sessions, kicking me in the head a million times, and risking your life on a motorcycle in the rain with Rubens (who is known for being a scary driver).
Obrigado por sempre me ajudar nos treinos, por me chutar na cabeça um milhão de vezes (me ensino apanhar muito kkk), e muito obrigada por arriscar sua vida em uma motocicleta na chuva com Rubens (que é conhecida por ser um motorista maluco!!!).

Rubens: Thanks for cornering me, showing up, and being one of the few people that keeps it real with me. With so many trainers at Nova Uniao it is easy to get confused or misguided, but you always have the right advice to help.
Obrigada por me salvar na ultimo minuto e ser uma das poucas pessoas que me da papo reito. Voce sempre chega com os conselhos que eu mais preciso e me ajudou muito evoluir meu boxe!
View of lagoa from the Brizolao in the Cantagalo Community 
where Nobre Arte boxing school is located. 

Amilcar: I was left all by myself the day of the fights, but you made sure that I got to and from the weigh ins with no problem! I wouldn't have been able to do it without you! Plus, I got to take my weigh in selfies with that iphone 6!!!!
Voce fala ingles assim nao vou traducir pra tu!

I was half a pound under weight and my opponent was
2 pounds over weight. I agreed to fight either way.

Tiguerinho: Thanks for all of the prefight pad work and always checking in on me. Not to mention the supplement sponsor that you helped me get even though you were running around in between classes! Even more thanks for my blue belt I can't wait to go over to Delfim and get in some training at the new Nova Uniao affiliate!
Obrigada por todo o trabalho de monapla e por sempre cuidar de mim. Obrigadao por me consiguir o patrocinador de suplemento, mesmo que você estava correndo entre as aulas deu tempo pra mim! E nao posso esquecer de te agradecer pela faixa azul! Nao vejo hora de ir pra Delfim a dar um treino com voce!

Jhonata: Thanks for lending me the patches that
I needed and for being small! Without you I would have no sparring partners! 52k all the way! haha
Obrigada pelos pats de patrocinio que precisava tanto e por ser tao pequeninho! Sem voce nao teria com quem treinar!

Naam: Thanks for being an amazing fan and supporting my fighting career in Brazil. There is nothing like a care package from home to lift the spirits! Plus your always there to give me advice... Thanks for giving me a name for my social project too!

My MiKiDo Family: Thanks to the Hess family and everyone else from my MiKiDo family that watched the fights and/or sent me messages. I miss you guys so much and it definitely wasn't the same preparing for a fight or going into battle without you guys by my side!.

There were lots of other people from the team that were also constantly supporting me and asking about the fight but I don't have the time to thank everyone individually.

Rocking a black plastic bag to cut weight! 

weight cut!

                                           Team Nogueira Academy in Recreio, Rio De janeiro