Flashing lights, TV screens, ring girls clamoring for your jockstrap; the world of fighting seems quite enjoyable from this particular angle. But we live in a three dimensional world where we sometimes have to look at things from all angles, even, at times, the ugly ones. I decided this month to dig down and inspect both the positive and negative aspects of being a professional mixed martial artist. Not that it’s a far journey for me; I don’t have to follow anybody around for a week documenting everything he does and how he feels at each moment. Well in a way, I suppose I do. So here goes my attempt at listing the best and worst parts of being a fighter.
GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS
Oh man, your teenage desires may all be met, if you are lucky and hardworking enough to become a popular MMAer. Hell, even if you don’t fight, you can ride the poon-tang wave caused by your buddy who made it into the fight game. Ask my friends, now that I’ve shacked up with my ol’ lady. Back in the day, I was the only fighter in my hood, so I was the fighter, until some local tools figured out that they too could get some booty by saying things like, “Yeah, I’m a blue belt. It’s kind of a big deal.” My lines were much more subtle, like “I’m sorry, what was your name, I get punched in the head for a living.” Girls are as dumb and horny as you are, so it is possible you could be in for a wild ride if you play your cards right.
If it wasn’t for Triumph United (www.triumphunited.com), Pro-elite, and Osiris shoes, I would have been either panhandling or hookin’ on
“Here Mayhem, I got this one.” I respond, “Okay,” without even pretending to reach for my wallet. Where were all these nice people when I was starving between training sessions? Ah well, best not to ask too many questions and just soak up the limelight while I can, until I have to buy my own over-priced filet mignon. “Dude, Mayhem, I just want to give you a t-shirt.” I respond, “Duh, okay,” adding another one to the ever-expanding pile in the back of my truck. If I would’ve known that at my age I would be running a goodwill donation center that specializes in fi ght fashion, I would’ve bought a bigger truck. I have enough skull printed fabric back there to decorate a haunted mansion for a decade.
Going in the same vein as free dinners from people you hardly know is the common fan love. The Mayhem Monkeys are well documented and will basically go bananas (pun intended) whenever I show up at an MMA-related event, but sometimes I get a high five simply walking through Wal-Mart’s parking lot. “Hey, you’re that guy!” Yeah, I’m that guy, I guess. “Dude, Mayhem I saw that video you did on YouTube, with the guy, and you had a funny hat on, ha! You rock!” Thanks. Now, do I need this constant ego stroking? No, not at all. I believe I have surpassed that point in my life and no longer feel insecure with myself where I need the validation of strangers to make me feel good. But any fighter is lying if he says he doesn’t appreciate signing autographs, giving hugs to fans and the like (see Girls Girls Girls). I’m getting paid for doing what I love.
Did I mention I get paid to kick ass?
Besides the fact that I get to wear whatever clothes I feel like every morning when I wake up, I am able to make beautiful dollars to punch, kick, and choke another grown man, free of prosecution. Of course this is a given, so I could have neglected to even put it in this article, but then I may come under fire from the editors of FIGHT! Magazine. Then I may have a problem running into prosecution with the whiny little sissies, and they will refuse to pay me, until I pound them into the pavement outside of their offices, as they scream and call the cops, girly-men that they are.
Writing articles for FIGHT!
Um, about that last paragraph, I was just a bit flustered, and that wasn’t about the editors, that was about something else. I mean, I just got off the phone with my girl, and I’ve been training really hard. Anyway the point is, I really enjoy getting to write for FIGHT! Magazine, it is awesome, and by far the best magazine, with the manliest editors of all time. I really feel like I have fulfilled a childhood dream to have people read what I write down, even if it isn’t in a video game or skateboarding magazine. It definitely ranks up there with the best things about being a fighter.
Girls Girls Girls
Remember when I said all of your teenage fantasies may come true? Well, they may, but remember, there is no free lunch, and those carnal desires come at a price. I could leave it there, but I think you should wrap your mind around how ruthless, conniving, and what an overall liability that young women can be. When I was seventeen, I would spar with the pro boxers at my local gym, and constantly get my ass kicked by an older boxer called “Boo Boo”. One night, after a particularly brutal beating, Boo Boo leaned over to me and said through his gold teeth, “Jason, man, stay away from women.” I laughed at the time, but now almost ten years later, I know exactly what the hell he is talking about. Freaky women tend to carry social diseases and that can lead to pissing razor blades. But that can be the least of your worries. Let one of those harpies become inseminated by you and see what happens. Boo Boo had baby mama drama, and while I luckily avoided that (to the best of my knowledge), I had plenty of dating this girl and that girl drama. Girls getting drunk and crashing my car, girls getting me shot at, girls threatening other girls that I was “dating” (read: banging). The dumb ones are attracted to the fame and desire to shine in your spotlight, and the longer it takes to realize it, the worse off you will ultimately end up.
Along the same lines as the crazy girls come the fake friends. I still know a few fighters that haven’t quite figured out that they have the same kind of friends Vanilla Ice had, the same ones that milked him of every last cent, hung at his overpriced
Remember the fan love I hold so dear to my heart? Well, there comes a line that a few deranged individuals may be all too happy to cross. It can be great to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the home of your favorite fighter, but it isn’t so great to be waiting at the steps to his apartment complex with a nine-millimeter and a string of doll heads, wearing a wifebeater with his name and a heart scrawled out in your own blood. The line of reality is quite blurred for some fans, especially when I have unwittingly become the spokesperson for the crazy people that happen to watch fights. All I ask is that no matter how much you love me, please don’t murder me and wear my skin as clothes. That’s no way to honor a cult leader. Thanks.
I love to train. It is one of the joys of my life to be able to do what I love for a living. That being said, I could kill Dr. Ryan Parsons when he wakes me up at the asscrack of dawn to run sprints on a muddy soccer field, Sokoudjou slinging mud from his brand new Nikes as he charges out in front of me, birds cheerily mocking me, and old people, lots of old people. What the hell are old people doing walking around at this time of day? Why? Is there some type of sale on ED pills that is only available to the seniors that wake up with the sun? Is that why they look at me so strange, or is it the pinstripe of wet mud that runs down my face and on to my Triumph hoodie? I’m going back to bed.
Worse than deviating from my night-owl schedule is having the misfortune of being injured. One of my few positive traits is being pretty durable, so this has happened very rarely, but the times it has are some of the most disheartening in life. Remember when you were a kid, and got in trouble at recess for throwing a softball at Amanda Do-Gooder’s head, and had to sit and watch everyone play? Well I do, and it sucked. Getting injured is the adult version of that. You have to sit your ass on the sidelines and watch all your friends laugh and play. I recently broke my hand during a fight, and just my luck, some of the best guys in the world came through Team Quest, where I watched my friends wrestle with future Olympian Mo LaWall, and grappling champion Marcelo Garcia. Enough to melt my cast with tears.
The Politics of the Fight Game
Say the wrong things, piss off the wrong people, and flush your career. I’ve said too much already.
Well that’s that. I think the positives well outweigh the negatives, especially since I’m kind of past the pay my dues stage of my career. Every day is a struggle, but I’d much rather be struggling at practice, with sponsors, and with fight promoters than struggling with traffic, cubicles, and bosses who micromanage me. I’ll happily sprint down the hallway, avoiding groupies, risking being John Lennon-ed by a guy who thinks I’m talking to him in my interviews, and weed my mayhem garden of plastic friends to be able to go on this wild ride of mixed martial arts. Traveling the world and getting paid for my first true love is worth it, even if it occasionally means catching the early bird special with somebody’s Nana.