What was probably my last sparring class is now in the books for this training camp, meaning that barring a tremendous freak accident, I have survived. Just surviving is huge. Most people think that getting into a cage and fighting another trained man until one of you quits or needs to be rescued by the referee is a dangerous thing. And it is. But the potential for injury is so much higher in training. Even though training is controlled and you are never trying to hurt your partner, it is intense. Even toned down versions of a fight, once repeated for multiple rounds a night, four nights a week for eight weeks, is likely to lead to injury. Long time readers will recall last year that I suffered a serious rib injury just 17 days before the fight. The injury was so severe that if I had taken a good shot to that side on fight day I surely would have lost.
This time around though, there are no significant injuries. Not only am I uninjured, I am in probably the best shape I have ever been for a fight. Not only am I in the best shape I've ever been for a fight, I am in the best mental place I have ever been in for a fight. The guys on my team at Universal MMA have been in fight camp mode since I finished with the WSOP, as there were two fight cards back in September and two again here in November. When I got back from the WSOP to train with the guys I was slow, out of shape and just generally shitty at fighting. But for the last four months I have taken my lumps, gotten totally dialed in on my health and nutrition and couldn't feel better. I train with a diverse group of fighters who all bring different things to the table, so even if I don't know much about my opponent -- I don't even know if I am fighting a left or right handed guy -- I feel as though I am prepared for anything.
I feel sharp. I feel I am as good a fighter as I have ever been, and I am going into this fight with very bad intentions. I think anyone who knows me knows that I am not the cliché of a chest-beating, trash-talking, overconfident fighter. Thirteen years of poker have taught me about variance and that just about anything can happen in a chaotic world. And I know that every fight and every fighter is dangerous. And still I cannot picture in my head any outcome other than me walking into the Battlefield cage next Saturday and winning in an overwhelmingly dominant fashion. In eight days, I will think about every punch I've eaten, every kick I've absorbed, every takedown that's slammed me on my back, and every time I've tapped to a submission. And I will take them all out on this man by delivering him a hellacious beating. I can picture no other result.