It felt like forever between my last fight and this one, even though it was only 14 days. There wasn’t a big group of folks coming along in one big truck like usual, so it was just me, Kevin, Den (trainer), Big (fighter/corner) and Joe (Scottish kid) in a little car. Different experience, but very relaxed.
There wasn’t a fight card printed up, so it took some asking around to figure out that I was the fourth fight and then later told the third fight. The officials were sitting on a couch in front of me while Big wrapped my hands and one of them – the guy who ended up being my ref – made a gesture to tell me I am strong and then told me in more gestures to knock my opponent out. This was a few moments before my opponent actually appeared and asked Den something and then he turned to me and asked what color shorts I’d brought. I said, “both” (meaning both red and blue, which is what I’m told to do even though I’ve always been the red corner) and he nodded in approval before saying, “wear the blue.”
Two little boys who were selling flowers at the stadium came up to me when I had my gloves on and put their hands up in guard – two separate instances, not at the same time. I put my hands up too and in both cases the little boy started punching my fists like little punching bags. It was pretty cute, these little kids connecting with me as a fighter. My gloves were so worn in that the tips of my fingers on the right glove actually came out of the padding, although still covered by the lining. How many thousands of punches had these gloves been through?
Both the first and second fights ended quickly (stoppage because the kid couldn’t stop grabbing the ropes in the first) and the fight right before mine was just an amazing knockout. These kids were going crazy in one of the messiest (but not ugly) fights I’ve seen. The red corner was bigger and was pretty much mocking the blue corner the whole time, doing flying kicks and knees while the blue corner kinda just covered up and then would throw these right haymakers that occasionally landed. It looked like the ref was going to stop the fight because blue was so outclassed, but he was fighting back hard when he could and I’m pretty sure they actually let the second round run long because they were hoping for a KO from red. Then, in the third round as the blue corner is just getting crushed he pushes his way forward and lands this incredible knee right in the solar plexus of red and drops him – red couldn’t get up.
It was a really exciting match and the audience was going nuts. Kevin told me to be prepared for the rounds going long or being cut short (in my last fight at Loi Kroh the first round was only 1:30 instead of 2:00 for whatever reason). It’s not something I can really monitor when in the ring, but we do 5 minute rounds at camp so I know I can last through them, but if they’re short you gotta know it’s a possibility so that you push the action.
I could feel my heart rate going up as the fight was nearing its conclusion. It was a beautiful fight in a way, even though it was so scrappy, but the intensity of it was probably what was affecting me. But I told myself that I had to be ready for a fight like that; it’s always a possibility and that’s what you train for, is the ability to handle anything that’s thrown at you regardless of skill or size or whatever. If I was about to step into that kind of battle, I was prepared to wring my heart out on the mat like that blue kid just had done.
Den was beaming after that fight, saying blue was a beginner but had a good heart. No kidding! We walked over to the corner so I could get in the ring and the blue kid was still having pictures taken with ecstatic audience members (crazy fight to follow!). As Big jumped up to the ring to lift the ropes for me (women have to go under the bottom rope) the blue corner started filing past me and the blue kid totally locked eyes with me, nodded and gave me a glove-to-glove fist tap. Blue corner solidarity, no words – freaking awesome.
When I first looked across the ring at my opponent she looked much bigger to me. I thought she was taller and her legs looked big, but once we met in the middle to tap gloves I saw that she was not, in fact, taller than I am. I was totally preparing to punch up by a few inches. In our first little clinch up she turned to the side and I clipped her head with a knee. She was pretty horrified by it and stood there rubbing her eye like it was poked and the ref wasn’t sure what that was about so he gave her a second – not sure if he counted. But I went to the neutral corner in case. She moved around more than my previous opponents have, at least in more directions than just straight back and though I was mentally concentrating on stepping in for my kicks I just wasn’t getting close enough and initiated them from WAY to far back. Den scolded me and we’ll definitely work on that more this week.
When I had her against the ropes a few times I was telling myself to jump in with a knee or a flying kick or SOMETHING – the way you stand on the edge of a diving board and your head is screaming “jump!” but your legs just don’t go. Gotta just go for it. But between the rounds Den told me to elbow and knee in the clinch, so when we clinched up again I threw an elbow down as she was dipping to the side and I got the back of her head. She was, again, totally horrified and didn’t really acknowledge me when I went over to say “sorry” and “thank you” after it was called. I understand how pissed she must have felt – my elbow hurt because I didn’t hit right on the bone and I can only imagine how much it hurts her today. Could have been me though – gotta prepare for everything.
I’m happy to have used elbows again and very happy to get to tell Master K it was an “Elbow KO!” I told Den as he was taking off my wraps that I want to fight again this week. He said, “OK, Friday or Saturday, I’ll tell you on Monday.” So, back to training.
Watch the Fight