From an early age, my father instilled in me the need to fight.
Some of the lessons were worth retaining, but most were examples of how not to live your life. There was a time I looked up to him more than anyone, but looking back, it was for all the wrong reasons. Standing at 6-feet-4-inches tall (probably 6-foot-5 on Tinder), he believed strength and intimidation were the best qualities in life. It is better to be feared than loved, and most conflict could be solved by being the largest person or loudest mouth in the room.
This didn’t help me much growing up as a 110-pound kid in high school trying to navigate through conflict armed with the knowledge that the most intimidating person in the room makes the rules. I didn’t have an outlet to vent either, oftentimes being told the solution to my problem was to punch the other kid in the mouth.
I somehow navigated high school, learning my own life lessons on the way, but there was not enough time or energy left over to plan for my future or learn who I really was as a person. With no plan or transferable skills, I did what any other 17 year old would do in that situation … I made a decision between jail or the military. Unfortunately, I chose wrong and shipped off to boot camp. Part of me believes I enlisted to prove I could be as tough as my father expected me to be. I’m still not sure which of us I needed to prove this to most.
Upon arrival, I quickly learned that I was not built like the other kids surrounding me. I was not going to make it through this test using brute strength and unwavering courage. I was simply going to have to survive the beating. After 13 weeks of beatings, I was a Marine. I had earned that title, but I did not feel connected to others around me.
Then, life stepped in and gave me the only favor it has ever seemingly given me: I was being stationed in Hawaii. This magical land of enchantment quickly helped me hone this newfound toughness and grit and balance it with restraint and self-discipline. Shortly after my arrival in Hawaii, I was introduced to another Marine who had trained Jiu-Jitsu under Relson Gracie in Oahu.
I knew nothing of martial arts at the time. There was nothing artistic about what my father taught me about fighting. But from the very first time I hit the mat, I was addicted. Finally, a fight that gave me a chance to win without simply intimidating and overpowering my opponent. A chess match that requires nothing other than patience, restraint and respect of your opponent.
The time had come to leave the island to visit my family. A family I no longer felt connected to and had grown apart from. My father quickly wanted to test what the Marine Corps had taught me. He wanted to see if the Marine Corps had taught me what he could not. He unleashed his other son. The son that made the “6-foot club” and had relied on brute strength to make it to this point.
He charged me like a baby rhinoceros, lifted me off my feet immediately, and just as gravity brought me back to earth, I was able to focus and utilize my new fighting skills. Before my back hit the ground, I had wrapped my brother up in a triangle choke. Within 10 seconds of the fight beginning, I was able to end it without “punching him in the mouth.”
Long Story Shortt, I was enamored with what martial arts had to offer me to this point. I was ready to absorb every bit of information I could get my hands on. I only wish that this lesson in conflict resolution translated to relationships and gave me the ability to save a marriage.
Throughout this column series, I will share my experiences and journey to becoming a mixed martial arts superfan and how just as quickly as life handed me this incredible new outlet, it punched me in the mouth. I will also provide analysis and advice if you’re interested in having any stakes in the fight yourself.
UFC 264: Connor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier 3
The next major fight, as I’m sure most of the world is aware, is the rubber match between Connor McGregor and Dustin Poirier on Saturday, July 10. Both fighters own a first-round stoppage over the other and both have huge animosity toward the other.
Despite having the blueprint to defeat McGregor in the first fight on Sept. 27, 2014, Poirier was clearly surprised by the diversity of striking on display from McGregor and the power behind each strike. Once Poirier was “punched in the mouth,” his game-plan was abandoned faster than my father abandoned his “6-foot club” son who I had just dismantled. Just kidding … sort of. McGregor was the winner by first-round technical knockout.
In the second fight, nearly 7 years later on Jan 21, Poirier went back to the exact same game plan. Attack the legs and remain patient. Avoid McGregor’s power and don’t allow him to get inside your head to make the fight an emotional one. McGregor tipped his hand in the first fight after each leg kick landed, spending an unnecessary amount of time trying to convince Poirier that his leg kicks were ineffective.
Like the classic play penned by world-famous author Old Dirty Bastard points out … “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” After wearing McGregor down with leg kicks in the second fight, Poirier was able to stop McGregor by first-round knockout, evening the score.
This third fight will require the same patience from Poirier and the exact same game plan. Sweep the leg.
Don’t count out Connor McGregor, though. He is one of the best in the world at adjusting to his opponents and making each and every fight a personal one. If Dustin Poirier goes into this fight with the intention of “shutting up” the Notorious One and making this fight an emotional one, he will quickly find himself waking up to bright lights asking himself the same question all of us do when life hits us in the mouth … “what the hell just happened?”
“Now the night is coming to an end … The sun will rise and we will try again.” – Twenty One Pilots
Thank you for allowing me to share this. @3rdandShortt