Everyone has heard the phrase "it's not what you know, but who you know." The older I get, the more true this is, as I realize that most of the cool things that come about in life happen not because of my own knowledge, but because of friends and who those friends know and so on. This weekend was just such an occasion.
About a week ago I realized I hadn't talked to my buddy Henning in a while, so I decided to get in touch with him and see what he was up to. Good timing on my part. He told me that his good friends Mark and Lisa Twight were coming to town to support an MMA fighter that Lisa had been training. Mark is a former professional alpine climber who I had been hearing about for years through a mutual friend, and now he and his wife are the brains behind Gym Jones. The genius of which can be seen here and here, for starters.
Through a strange connection to the movie 300, Lisa came to be the conditioning coach for Rob MacDonald (UFC fighter and cast member of the reality show TUF 2). Rob came down to Colorado from his native Toronto to fight in the Ring of Fire cage mach held in Broomfield, for the light heavyweight title held by Elliot Marshall. Through an even more round-a-bout connection, I came to be sitting at Rob MacDonald's VIP table for the fight.
What a blast. Rob is a tremendously nice guy who was nothing but generous the entire time. As he was the main event of the night, his was the last fight. He sat and talked with us up until one fight left before his own while I sat and thought "isn't this guy fighting tonight?" Then he just said, "well, I guess it's smashin' time," and headed for the locker room. I figured he was either really, really confident and in "the zone" already, or he was completely unprepared. Lucky for us -- and especially him -- it was the former.
I'm not really sure if Eliot Marshall was looking at Rob as a stepping stone to get to the UFC, or if he was just completely overwhelmed in the fight, or both. At any rate, it truly was "smashin' time" for Rob, as he laid the beat down on his opponent. After numerous slams to the canvas, and a number of blows to the face, the ref stopped the fight shortly into the second round. As Eliot was the hometown boy, our table was the only group in the whole arena cheering. I think most people were stunned at the one-sided victory, including "team silicone" sitting behind us. I'm not sure they even knew who was who anyway, to be honest.
This is in no way a slam against Eliot Marshall, as he showed nothing but pure class in his loss, even coming to the press conference after the fight. His camp seemed very professional, and hopefully I will have an opportunity to train with them, seeing as how they are here in town.
But to the victor go the spoils, as they say, and it was truly awesome to be apart of something like that. Even though I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I somehow ended up in the octagon when the fight was over, whooping it up with everyone else. I was given one of the cameras for the fight to take pictures, but I have a feeling that most of them turned out pretty blurry as it is apparently really difficult to cheer and photograph at the same time. Luckily, a professional had it covered, and her pics can be viewed here (I especially like this one. I'm such a ham).
In the end, I am grateful to Rob and his camp for letting be a part of this event. Though I may never be a champion of any kind myself, it is quite an inspiration to see people who dedicate themselves wholly and completely to something that takes so much effort and sacrifice to even compete, let alone win. These are lessons we can all apply to our lives in many regards, and my training intensity will certainly raise to a new level thanks to what I witnessed that night (plus I now have an invite to train at Gym Jones, which I am more than just a little excited about).
And one final note, I would especially like to thank Rob for his sense of humor; while most guys are coming in the arena to songs by 50 Cent and the like, the good man Maximus had the foresight to play "You're the Best," the theme song to the Karate Kid. Which, as everyone who is anyone knows, won an Oscar for the best movie ever made. Ever. Plus it's stuck in my head now, so I've got that going for me.