(Mike Russow lands the decisive blow on Todd Duffee’s chin.)
I can tell you what’s going to happen in a fight before it happens. Sometimes I can tell you the day the fight is made. Other times I can tell you when the fighters touch gloves. Periodically I can tell you seconds before it happens. Am I psychic? Maybe. Show me the match-up and I will tell you if fighter A will score takedowns for 15 minuets of lay and pray. I can tell you if two wrestlers will stand and bang for 15 minutes. Occasionally I can tell you what a fighter is thinking, when he is about to quit or when he is about to turn the tide. This ability makes me pretty good at MMA gambling but not too much fun to watch fights with. The fact of the matter is that I don’t have ESP. What I do have is experience. Since UFC 1, I have probably watched hundreds of events and thousands of fights from a variety of different vantage points: live or television, nosebleeds or cageside, from the warm-up room or from the corner. Add to that the number of rounds of training I have seen and participated in the last 12 years you get, well, A LOT of MMA.
I began watching fights as a pure fan. I remember when the UFC first started and I could sit on my couch and yell “punch him in the face” and “stop laying on each other” all the while thinking, I could beat these guys. The early MMA events always seemed to have an air of “circus side show” to me, and I LOVED every minute. As I have evolved from pure fan to coach the way I view fights has changed as well. Of course on occasion I still like to get a few beers in me and yell like an idiot. Especially when a friend is fighting, I am the loudest guy in the room. However the majority of my current fight viewing is done almost entirely from an analytical stand point. Think of it as fight homework. This fight homework has developed my seemingly psychic abilities.
Last week I watched a good friend and former student fight on his first UFC main card. I could feel all the normal nerves and butterflies I have when close friends fight. As the fight moved through Round One I started to go from screaming fan to concerned coach. Mistakes started to appear and I questioned the game planning his team had come up with. I started feeling he was going to get KO’d. In the second round, another dominant one for my friend, I became even more nervous. I mentally begged his corner to make the proper changes and for him to listen prior to Round Three. Half way into Round Three I watched in stunned (but not surprised) silence as my friend got knocked out. I tried to watch the rest of the card as a fan but I was way too depressed. Watching a friend get knocked out is still too much for me to handle.
Adam Singer is the owner of The HardCore Gym/American Top Team of Athens in Athens, Ga.