This one is for me. It is not for you. It is not for Sam Caplan. I am writing this one so I will always have something simple and honest to remind me why I started writing about MMA in the first place. I write about MMA because I have to. Not because I want you to like me, or because I am part of a secret WAMMA plot, or I want Dana White to credential me for UFC 100. I write about the sport to try to give a little back because the sport has reshaped my life.
A few years ago, I was getting angry with myself for getting too comfortable. I had a great job, a big, beautiful, busy family, and a few hobbies. Life was good. And I was miserable. Something vital was missing. I started watching the fights and they made me uneasy. Fighting, violence, uncertainty – no thanks, I’m good. I preferred cigars, scotch, and non-iron Brooks Brothers shirts. But I kept watching. Did Matt Hughes really just throw that dude down like that? Yep. Did Jens just knock that guy out with a vicious left hook? He did. Was that guy bleeding from both eyes and MOVING FORWARD?
Maybe it was because I spent my days play fighting with other starchy lawyers about the most ridiculous things. I’d flip through the channels, looking for something to ease me into sleep, and MMA became a revelation. Real fighting. Bleeding. Sweating. Straining. All of the things I’d purposefully built a wall around my life to avoid. And for my all of my efforts, at 37, I’d become the guy I said I’d never be. A complacent, stuffed suit. Obsessed with money, my career and saving enough for retirement. Something was missing and these guys I saw on the television had tapped into it. I instantly knew I needed to get some of that back. Some healthy aggression, some discipline, and real courage.
I started to train a little bit. I read that some of the fighters were Crossfit devotees. I read about John Hackleman and Chuck training at the Pit. I smashed tires with sledgehammers, hoisted kettlebells, climbed up ropes, bought a C2 rower, and I bled in my backyard. A lot. It felt very good. My neighbors worried.
Now, I’m in deep. I watch the fights every chance I get. (Did you see Imada’s sick submission the other night?) I train hard, I learn about the sport, and thanks to Caplan and others, I get to write about the sport for a broad audience and for myself. Last week I got to compare Dana White to Othello. I’m living again! In the past few months, I’ve spoken to Jens Pulver and Pat Miletich. Pat Miletich and Jens Pulver – I am a lawyer and I’ve never been bloodied in a fight (yet) but these warriors and MMA pioneers took the time to speak to me about this amazing sport. I’ve interviewed Jon Wertheim from Sports Illustrated about his book “Blood in the Cage.” I read “A Fighter’s Heart” and then I interviewed Sam Sheridan. I’ve spoken to Ken Pavia and too many up and coming fighters to name. I learn about the fight business from guys like Rob Maysey and Eddie Goldman. I’ve made friends with literally hundreds of amazing men and women who share my passion for the sport.
Writing about MMA, watching the sport, meeting the fighters and the players on the periphery – these things have redefined me and just in the knick of time. I was getting dangerously close to staying comfortable and I never want to be there again. It’s not how we’re supposed to live. I eat better now – I’ve learned from my friends in the Crossfit community about evolutionary fitness and paleo eating. My friend Brad Pilon continues to teach me about intermittent fasting. Art deVany inspires me to take a new look at everything I’d ever thought about health, fitness and economics. My new friends from the Far East (and my Western friends who have embraced Eastern culture) have taught me about the benefits of mindfulness, meditation, yoga, right livelihood, and breathing. It took me 37 years to learn how to breathe! I sleep better now. I’m a better man.
MMA saved me from a life of softness and so I write about MMA to reinforce, for myself, all of the lessons I’ve learned over the last few years and to honor blood, sweat, strain and aggression and everything they represent that I was missing. I cherish the many new friendships I’ve made and I hope my friends will recognize themselves in the pieces I write because they give me so much and their confidence and trust sustain me. To my old friends who no longer recognize me in the things I write and think about and talk about and who ask me with puzzled expressions “so, what’s with you and all this cage fighting stuff?” – you never really knew me at all.