StriKing III- Figueroa Vs. London
Sunday, Aug. 11. – 6 days out
Fight week had arrived; along with it was the dreaded “carb-cut”. 3 more days of hard training with reduced calories and no carbs, if you’re like me I love eating food especially the kind that is not healthy, you know the good stuff! On the flip side of that coin I don’t necessarily like fighting guys who are 15-20 lbs larger than me so cutting out all that fatty food isn’t all that bad of an idea.
3:00 pm – Sunday afternoon workout with the team. Things went as normal, show up to the gym, normal small talk and then on to thunderous sounds of shin to pad contact fueled by weeks of nervous anticipation of what’s to come Saturday August 17. 5 rounds x 3 minute rounds of pads followed by the same 5 x 3 on the bags, followed by clinch rounds concluded the session of the day.
Monday, Aug. 12 – 5 days out
5:30 am- “wake up, wake up” “get up! Don’t be a lazy ass!”…these are the words echoing in my head after about 5 minutes of fighting myself I get up and head out for my 5 mile run. After the run a simple fruit smoothie with protein is my breakfast and off to my 8-5 I go. 5:00 hits and I can’t wait to get to the gym, when I get there I am greeted by our awesome team and even more amazing students. You never realize how not letting them down can keep you moving forward even when you feel you don’t have the energy to do so. Not only do I fight out of love for the sport and competition but as an instructor I aim to show the students that what we teach is practical and applicable to real life scenarios. There are a lot of gyms out there that teach a lot of weird loopy things that are just theories and sound great on paper. Reality is that a lot of that stuff crumbles under the weight of a properly trained fighter who is there to fight and not to exchange light combos.
Thursday, Aug. 15- 2 days out
The fight is at 142 lbs, I step on the scale Thursday morning and the scale reads 153…immediately a heavy “oh crap” feeling hit me like a ton of bricks, now 11 lbs is not all that bad for a weight cut but what had occurred to me is that I still had another 2-3 lbs waiting for me that day with water and food which was likely to come off over night but when it’s so close to the fight and you want to cut as little as possible it does start to wear on you a bit.
Again, off to my 8-5 I go except this day I am off at 3 so I can get to Muskogee at a decent hour. Now, if you are like me and already easily pissed off by the level of ignorance the average human displays, than you can only imagine how disgruntle I was especially knowing that my food and water had to be limited. For me my day job is doing inside sales for a company that sells cable accessories to the oil industry. In the sales industry you have to put up with a lot of different people and well, because you are the sales guy you tend to get walked on due to the “the customer is always right” mentality. I think doing this job helps me stay with Muay Thai because by the time the whistle blows at 5:00 pm I am ready to punch and kick someone or something as hard as humanly possible, without it I think I’d go insane!
I made it through the day without stabbing anyone in the face, so that right there in itself is a victory, ha-ha! by 3:30 we were on the road, and made it to Muskogee Oklahoma in about 8- 8-1/2 hours. Soon as we got there it was time for “rack ops” as we use to call it in the Marines…sleep time for you civilians!
Friday Aug 16- 1 day out (weigh ins)
Here we go!! Honestly, if you have never fought before, the weight cut HAS to be the worst part! At least for me it is, as you dehydrate yourself all I can think of is gatorade, water, chocolate cake, tortillas, among other tasty treats I can’t wait to get my hands on! I stepped on the scale and was 153 again, so for the first part of the cut I slapped on my sweats and sauna suit and went for a light 25 minute jog to get it started. After the run I had cut 3 lbs, I had expected to lose more but just my luck there was a semi cold front in Oklahoma… Thanks mother nature!
3 down, 8 to go! My team mates and I hit up the sauna that was provided to us by the promoter (thanks TY!), 4 hours later we were all at target weight! Compared to my last fight with Colin Wright this weight cut was a walk in the park! By midnight I had re-hydrated to 152 lbs! It’s funny because we had a student of ours named Sebastian that is 17 years old and is very motivated to fight and when he’s ready he will do great. He was under the impression that fighting just involved working out a couple times a week and showing up to the venue and having fun, coming with us for the trip he got to see the ins and outs of everything you have to do and he was blown away at all that is required.
The thing that took him by surprise was how much we were able to eat after weighing in. After weigh ins we were off to Chili’s, than from there we went to Braums which is an ice cream shop, on top of the food and snacks we had as soon as we hopped off the scale, topped off by fruit and other things before going to bed. He repeatedly kept asking “ You guys are still hungry?!” “ I feel like my stomach is going to explode!”. Welcome to the fighters life kid!
Saturday, Aug 17. – FIGHT NIGHT!
Fight night had FINALLY arrived! Time to show what I have been working on for the last 2 months! If you have ever fought you know that some promotions just don’t have their crap together…well, StriKing is completely different! They completely have the fighters in mind! After weigh ins we knocked out the fighters meeting so we wouldn’t have to be there at the venue ridiculously early. This happens to be one of my pet peeves; among other things you could just tell that everything was set up and on point. Doctors in place, scale ready, weigh ins actually starting when they were supposed to. These may sound like very small things but trust me when you’re tired, hungry, and thirsty seconds feel like minutes and minutes feel like hours.
The fights started at 7:00 pm sharp as advertised and I was fight #5 with my team mate Terrance Johnson at #4 and my coach Nethaneel Mongonia as the main event. Warm ups were good, and T.J. walked out for his fight looking like a man possessed! Needless to say 1:30 seconds into the first round his opponent was put down and the fight was over. I can’t explain how proud I am of him! It was his first fight and he looked like he had been fighting for 10 years! Can’t say enough good things about him and can’t wait to see him in action again!
The KO must have set a tone for the night because instantly all the nerves disappeared and I knew it was time to go to work. The guitar riff of my walkout song hit (Miserlou by Dick Dale) and I changed. All the nerves I had, all the concerns, all the hypothetical scenario pondering immediately stopped and I went to man on a mission mode. Walking to the ring I have never been so confident in my life! Enter the ring, seal the ring, look at my opponent…TIME TO WORK!
The bell rang and James London and I went at it like it was our last fight! Immediately he opened up with big leg kicks, I knew I had to let him know that they would be blocked and on top of that there would be a price to pay for being in kicking range. For this fight my game plan was to literally kick as hard as I possibly could and test him in the clinch…and that’s exactly what I did. Anytime I got hit, I hit back twice as hard, this fight was the biggest test I have had and was actually the first time I had fun while fighting.
The first round went my way; I went back to the corner thinking “YES! Fight like that and I’ve got this!!” 2nd round started and the experience factor kicked in, my opponent having had 12 total fights vs. my 5 knew how to adjust and this is where it got a little nuts! Tit for tat we exchanged in and out of the pocket, going in and out of the clinch… then came the groin strikes. After 2-3 groin strikes I had a point deducted, it was really strange because that never happens, but it did and well, it is what it is. I thought at the end of the 2nd I had still done enough to win the round, it was also in this round that I realized that he wasn’t going down and I was in it for the long haul.
3rd round was definitely his round, I don’t know if I just got tired, started to coast, or if he just figured me out…either way he won that round and did a really good job at dictating the pace and establishing where we fought. End of 3, fights over…or so we thought.
After the 3 rounds we congratulated each other and instantly forged a friendship with mutual respect of each other for what we had just endured, the announcer takes us to the center…” and this bout is a DRAW!” Immediately my heart sank! I couldn’t help but think about that damn point deduction and my poor performance in the 3rd round than all of a sudden the announcer yells “THIS FIGHT IS GOING TO A 4TH ROUND!”
Immediately I thought “WHAT?!” Then I said to myself, ok I have to take this round! In retrospect having to go to a 4th round was really strange because I had already dropped the “fight zone” after the 3rd round and then had to muster everything in me to get it going again for a 4th round, really funny how we fighters have programmed our bodies to react to these types of situations like a simple on and off button. I guess it’s not too hard when you know the other guy is trying to knock your block off!! 4th Round starts and we pick up right where we left off…Except this time I feel fresh and am chopping with huge kicks, with both of us trying to take space in the ring from one another. In the last 10 seconds we end up in the clinch so I try to hit big knees to close out the round but James did a great job at limiting them. 2 seconds left, and I got dumped…DING! Rounds over.
I went back to my corner thinking ok, I did it! I won that round! Pushed myself as hard as I could and I got this fight! Turns out the judges thought otherwise…Initially I was pissed, but then I thought about it… I fought my ass off and left it all in the ring. I felt I won, but I didn’t so that’s the outcome and even though it’s a loss it’s still a win in my eyes because of how I performed and how much better taking that fight is going to make me. This is now my second loss and I’m sure it will not be my last, but the last time I lost it changed me for the better and that’s all I can see with this defeat. Congratulations to James London for a hard fought win, wish nothing but success for you in your career! As for me, I’ll be correcting the mistakes I made in this fight and come Nov. 1 at the StriKing tournament I will be victorious!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for all the support from my friends, family, and team mates. Hope you enjoy the fight and until next time, remember to live your dreams out to the fullest! Hard work trumps all obstacles!
– Uriel “Crazy” Figueroa