For the next day on the itinerary was registration. There were a lot of countries there, and while 101 countries had notified IFMA that they’d be in attendance, we had another 47 countries show up unannounced and ready to fight. So needless to say the registration team was a bit overwhelmed.
So what do you do?…you grab a chair and hang out with some really cool people on your team, and make it a good time with some laughs. We finally got the team paid for and registered, after some confusion. And once again it was head back to the hotel. This time we got out and enjoyed the beach a little bit, went for a run, hit pads and trained with some awesome people. Getting to hit pads again felt great, but I could tell my body still wasn’t awake from the trip yet.
The next day was weigh-ins and due to the large amount of combatants, the initial weigh-ins was split between two days. Obviously we wanted to have that second day as a rest day. Equally overwhelmed was the medical and weigh-in teams, due to the unexpected high volume of last minute show ups. Finally we got everything sorted and it was time to relax… a little. We ate dinner and had a couple of laughs, and went to bed.
The first day of competition, and everyone made weight like champions. Sam and one of the juniors were up to bat, however due to a reshuffle we all were reseated in our brackets. Come to find out a group of 4-5 competitors didn’t check the brackets the night before, and thought that they were weren’t supposed to fight that day and didn’t weigh in. so these guys were booted for failure to make weight.
Fortunately, we had a Team coordinator (Cheryl) and coach (Thiago) that were diligent in monitoring the brackets for change. They would be up at 12-1am to watch the bracket’s, only to wake up at 5-6am to start getting ready for a day that didn’t end until 10-11pm.
It was nice to have the first day off, it gave us a day to just watch the fights and see how things were going to be run. We had a blast cheering and watching some good fights.
The days started to blur together, and it didn’t matter. We had such a great team of individuals, that we just had fun and made the best of everything.
Finally the day was upon us; Ethan fought first and did a great job. He put on a great fight but was unable to score enough rounds to win the decision. However, he did get to show off his combos, and foot work. You have to give him props for jumping in the deep end and swimming with the sharks.
Next up was me; I was fighting someone from the home town team, Malaysia. My opponent, far more experienced than I was, came out fighting a slickster kick style. I took the first round to study his game a bit while working a kick game. The following round, my corner-man/team coach (Thiago Azeredo), figured out his weakness and had me start working my footwork and counters, and then applying pressure… sure enough we started to see the cracks appear in in that second round, as we took that round. Third round came up and my corner had me pour the heat on more, and as he started to weather I saw my opportunity, and force him to place his hand and landed it… a right elbow, spot on the button. I felt the elbow go through like butter, as all my kinetic energy was delivered. I saw him fall back and his eyes roll back into his head. So I knew he was out. Walking back to my corner, I knew he wasn’t getting back up… but my corner called for me to go to neutral corner anyways. The ref just walks up and took my opponent’s mouth piece out and called for the doctor. While standing in the neutral corner, I realized that he hadn’t really moved yet, and then I started to worry. Once he started to stand up, I felt a lot more relieved that he was ok. We’ve all been knocked out, and that pretty much what we both are trying to do… but you know, you don’t want to be responsible for someone’s death or ending their career. I have to give him a lot of respect; he was a tough and smart guy. He fought hard and earned his country a lot of respect.
Afterwards, several people came up and said that that was the highlight reel KO of the event… I don’t know. Anyhow, it was a good fight. It was technical… not wild and sloppy. And getting the opportunity to fight like that was amazing and an honor. After the win there was no time for excitement, as the rest of the team was still coming up to bat the next day and I was looking down the barrel of fighting Algeria/France.