Sunday, February 22, 2015

From watching it to living it

People pursue martial arts for different reasons. They may not have much interest in organized team sports like football or basketball. They may have stress that they want to work off in a healthy way. For some, martial arts represent a way to boost yourself.

Sijara Eubanks, a flyweight fighter from Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, started in martial arts as a child, but it was her progression as an adult from kickboxing to Brazilian jiu-jitsu that led her to a contract with Invicta FC. A Springfield, Mass. native, Eubanks was first introduced to mixed martial arts and the UFC as many (including myself) have – by multiple viewings of UFC programming. In this case, UFC Unleashed.

“I thought it was the coolest thing on TV,” Eubanks told me via email. “I would watch hours and hours at a time. So when I started training I never thought I’d compete professionally, but I fell so in love with the sport so I quit my job and started to pursue MMA and jiu-jitsu full time.”

MMA helped Eubanks overcome depression, and she has compiled a 2-0 record as an amateur fighter. While the date of her Invicta debut is still up in the air, her goal is the same as any other fighter – to be world champion. Eubanks credits her management team at SuckerPunch Entertainment for facilitating her deal with Invicta.

“It seems like not that long ago I was just a chubby kid from Springfield, and now I’m signed with the world’s premier women’s MMA promotion,” Eubanks said. “I’m so pumped up about this contract and I cannot wait to make my Invicta debut. I’m going to bring some intense, entertaining fights to the flyweight division.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Shipping up to Providence

With the last name Sullivan, you would think Method MMA and Baltimore BJJ's Robert Sullivan would be popular with a certain sect of people. And you would be right.

Sullivan fought for the third time late last month for CES MMA, an organization based out of Providence, R.I. He notched his second win in the organization via unanimous decision and seems to have built a small following up there, if you ask Sullivan.

"Being it's in Providence, they seem to like the Irish quite a bit," Sullivan told me on Facebook recently. "My first time up there last year I beat a hometown hero, so I think that won me some respect. I got offered to come up there probably to be meat the first time. Now I'm 2-1 with the organization."

Sullivan focused a lot on boxing during his training camp, by virtue of his opponent being a strong striker. Sullivan's training camp was also a bit more arduous this time around.

"Training and coaching wrestling all day just had me a little overworked," Sullivan said. "Also, some of my training partners coach wrestling at other schools so we were making what we could work."

While Sullivan has also fought for organizations like Bellator, he found that promotion in mixed martial arts is pretty uniform.

"You sit around for a long time at weigh-ins - they are never ever on time," Sullivan said. "You do all the doctor crap, make weight, fill back up, get some rest and fight."

When it finally came time to fight, Sullivan felt the tone of the fight early, and hard.

"I got nailed early on with the hardest punch I've ever felt in a fight," he said. "I was happy I ate it, but it messed my nose up pretty bad."

Sullivan recovered to dominate the rest of the fight, despite feeling his gas tank empty toward the end.

"The last minute or so, I burned out," he said. "My one regret from my last camp was not getting in the proper amount of running. So needless to say, that final round between my busted nose and lack of running, I was digging deep. I was happy with my performance overall, but i always want to improve on things. I never try to feel satisfied."

Sullivan plans to fight again in April at Shogun Fights in Baltimore.