One thing that did transpire was my 31st birthday. As my cousin was quick to point out, that means I'm not just 30, I'm now in my thirties. Coincidentally, I happened to watch the MMA movie "Warrior" on my birthday. The movie contains a scene where the main character, a career journeyman, is told by his trainer, "c'mon, you were barely a .500 fighter when you were on the right side of 30!"
"The right side of 30" clearly implies that I'm now on the wrong side. Ouch. Just like that, I'm officially old? Hey, if Hollywood says it, it must be true. And I suppose there is also that wealth of anecdotal evidence and scientific study that indicates explosiveness, power, and so forth are now on the downswing at my age too.
Nevertheless, I am off to continue my quest for self-improvement in the MMA game by heading off to Phuket, Thailand on Tuesday. Once there, I feel like I'll be able to isolate myself and do nothing but train for a month, ideally working my way up to twice-daily, 6-day-per-week training, as a pro would.
It will be an interesting experience for me. Obviously I have already once set aside a long block where I did essentially nothing but train (the 8 weeks leading up to my fight) but this will be different as I will have no real support network and no tangible goal at the end. This time, the goal is the process itself. If an appropriate MMA or Muay Thai fight does come up during my time there, I will happily take it, but I won't put pressure on myself to do it. I'm fine waiting until spring time in Vancouver to fight again.
People frequently ask how much longer I plan to do the MMA thing, and I think until I am 35 or so seems quite reasonable. The other thing people ask is what I want to achieve. I'm not a big believer in setting very specific goals myself, but I do want to challenge myself, develop the best possible version of me, and see how far I can get in that time. The ultimate goal is to have no regrets and to never wonder what might have been.
Of course, the UFC did today announce it would be opening the 125-pound weight class starting in March. Which of course makes me think thoughts like, "my walking weight is about 137-140 these days, the division isn't so well-developed, and while I utterly lack experience the one upside is that I haven't taken much damage..." And then I realize there's also the part where I'm a 31-year-old with exactly one fight on his record and who still gets tapped out by blue belts. Well, dare to dream, I suppose.
But ultimately it doesn't really matter. All that matters is a little self-improvement, every day. And for my next little dose of self-improvement, I find myself packing my bags for Phuket.