In my previous blog post I chronicled Brent Walter, a fighter with Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg as he prepared to make his mixed martial arts debut on a card in Manassas, Va. Walter emerged victorious in his debut, and he took the time to share his experience with me. Rather than paraphrase what he shared, I'll let Walter share his story himself. This was taken verbatim from a recent Facebook conversation, with some minor edits on my part for clarity:
On his weight cut:
"I was lucky enough to not need to cut weight by sweating, which zaps energy. I was able to get down to five pounds away by dieting, then just restricted my food and water intake for 24 hours. I came in at 167 pounds and I needed to be 170."
"It was an ominous calm before the storm. You know that in mere hours you're about to go to war with another individual just like you, but you must project an aura of confidence and composure.
My teammates and I arrived at the venue at 2 p.m. and did not compete until around 10 to 11 p.m. The wait and how you deal with it is just as important as the fight itself.
When you walk out to the cage, I feel like you have to flip a switch. Whatever developed in our brains to make us civilized human beings must shut off and a primal sense takes over. The zone is unreal and once the ref drops his hand, the surge of energy from you and your opponent is like jumping into a ocean wave. You either stand up against it or get knocked over.
I knew my opponent was a decent wrestler, so I expected him to look for takedowns. But he also decided to keep the distance close and personal. Much of the match was either in the clinch on the feet working for positions and takedowns, and controlling dominant positions on the mat.
In the first round, about 30 seconds in, he shot a takedown against me with my back to the cage and my eyebrow came down on the crown of his skull and busted it open. While in the clinch I noticed a gush of blood come by my eye, and it was at that point I realized I was cut and could either let it slow me down or push me harder. I chose the latter.
I circled away from the cage, shot a takedown and went to secure a backpack grip. He was able to turn in and I secured a half-guard position with my knee against his chest to keep distance from the strikes coming down. I was then able to put my feet on his hips and get back to my feet. He came in for another barrage and I was able to duck under a hook and secure a takedown. I then transitioned to a full mount and was able to land a few elbows of my own. He turned to give me his back, and I ended that round on his back.
My corner did an excellent job of calming me and addressing my laceration. We came out for the second round and I was able to land a head kick. But the kick to his midsection was caught and he went in for a takedown. After a scramble for position, I ended up on top in a north/south position, with his arms wrapped around my leg. I was able to work my leg out, secure both the hooks and backpack grip to take his back and sink in a rear naked choke and end the fight at around 1:51 in the second round."
"After the fight I was just happy to have my first win and to prove myself inside the cage to my academy, family, friends and most importantly myself. As it turned into a new day, I spent the early hours in the emergency room receiving stitches. It was also my birthday, but that stuff just comes with the territory.
Evolve came up big in securing the first trophy given out to a team with 10 wins in MixItUpSports promotions. Tyson Kellerman 135lbs won a decisive unanimous decision at 135 pounds against an opponent with a better record. Trevor Thompson was supposed to fight at 155 pounds, but his opponent forfeited. He must have seen how hungry Trevor looked and chose not to show.
I'm grateful to call Evolve Academy my home and family! The term 'gameness' definitely defines my first fight experience and I look forward to future challenges. Each fight is a new experience and a new obstacle for me to overcome in my journey as a fighter.
Going to work the next day with stitches and explaining you were in a cage fight is also a unique experience that amateur fighters deal with."
As you can see, a lot goes into a young fighter's experience, particularly when he's making his debut. Walter perfectly articulated his journey and really provides a keen insight into why MMA fighters do what they do.