It occurred to me today just how long I've been a fan, following and
supporting mixed martial arts, in fact, I was at the very first
I was covering the event for 3 magazines around the world. I
interviewed all the
fighters, hung out with them, partied with them. It was a crazy scene.
No one new what to
expect. There I was up against the cage with my camera in awe of the
spectacle unfolding before me…
After Royce won I asked him how it that he was so confident
against the much bigger fighters. Without missing a beat he answered,
"The lion isn't the biggest animal in the jungle, the shark isn't the
biggest fish in the sea…" Very smooth. As we all know, the UFC
continued to draw controversy, but most importantly it had made an
indelible mark on those who were watching.
A couple years later I got a call from Joe Silva. He had pitched me
to SEG as a possible color commentator. I was invited to NYC to
meet with Meyrowitz and team. Joe explained to the owners that he
thought I would be an asset to the color commentary team because of all
my research into reality based training, mind-set and mental
he felt I would be a good bridge between the fights and the TV audience
(who at the time had no idea what they were watching).
I was hired for UFC 10 (I think), billed as: The Ultimate Ultimate.
On the card was Ken Shamrock, Tank Abbott, Don Frye and a bunch of the
other pioneers of that generation UFC. So many things happened behind
the scenes, from drunk/stoned celebrity martial artists in bars, to a
challenge in the basement of the hotel, to a spontaneous
verbal jousting with Tank live backstage after he lost to Don Frye. It
was surreal. It
was an incredible time – except for the color commentary part :-)
Truth is, I was really out of my element with live satellite TV. I
was hired to sit cage-side and just help analyze the action, but on the day of the fight, I was told they
wanted me to be a roaming reporter, to move about and interview
fighters cage-side and backstage. I had worked movies, stunts,
interviews, but nothing prepared me for live satellite TV. To add to my
self-imposed stress, there was no rehearsal, no prep. Armed with my ear
piece & microphone, I was off with new & nervous crew
jabbering away in my ear/head. It was it was quite an experience. [Eg: During an interview
the Don Frye, while I was talking, one of the producers kept yelling in
my ear, "Ask him what his strategy is, what's his strategy for
Tank?…" I couldn't hear myself think and eventually I blurted the
line out. It was so stupid. Don and I had developed
a good rapport during the week and had had many deep talks on mental
prep and training methods. Here we were, live, (all the dressing rooms
had feeds), so we knew Tank was watching, and I just asked him what he
was going to do for the fight…mortified, but quick on my feet, I
immediately made fun of myself and used the Line General Schwartzkoff used during the Gulf War buildup when 'another'
idiot with a mic asked him 'what time the surprise attack was going to
start'…he paused, smiled and said: "We prefer to keep the actual time
the surprise attack a secret." Touche. Don and I laughed live on TV
and he went on to beat Tank in spectacular fashion.
My debut a color commentator was short lived. I'd like to blame it
all on how frenetic the pace was, and how 'new' (disorganized) the production team was, or the many
hiccups and FUBARS leading up to fight night like the role change, and
of course that I had the flu (for real) and I think the sun was in my eyes (not
really), in the end my experimental role of roaming reporter was filled by
Joe Rogan who has grown to be a huge asset, proponent and voice for MMA fighters
& the UFC.
Since that first UFC I have stayed involved with the sport as fan, gear sponsor, consultant and specialty coach. [There's been so many other experiences, I'm going to have to lock myself in a room and write about them one day.] I think the most rewarding and exciting part of this has been that I know I've helped the fighters with fear, with reducing injuries that shorten careers, with mental prep leading up to a fight. I've never taken a penny from a MMA fighter and never sponsored a fighter with HIGH GEAR if that athlete didn't understand what the gear was for.
[Fighter's who've used or are using HIGH GEAR is a veritable list of
'who's Who', superstars like Frank Mir, Rampage Jackson, George St. Pierre, Diego
Sanchez, BJ Penn, Urijah Faber, Joe Lauzon, Randy Couture, Cung Le and
many more have integrated our equipment into their training. Several of the fighter's have even started incorporating aspects of the S.P.E.A.R. System, like most recently, Frank Mir.]
What an experience its been for me and our company, from
UFC 1 to UFC 100. From Denver to Vegas…imagine being in Hilo , HI with BJ, Urijah, Joe Lauzon at the same time and then to Vegas to guest coaching on TUF with Frank Mir. Even though I've had real personal contact with fighters, coaches, management, I'm still a fan first and I cannot believe how this sport has grown. Being a
fly on the wall of the world's most exciting and fastest growing sport
has been an adventure. And the sport is getting bigger and
better…so here's looking to UFC 200!!
Congrats to Dana White for his vision and passion, the Fertita's for supporting the UFC growth, to Joe Silva
who's talent as a matchmaker over the years has been vital to the
sport's growth, and especially to all the fighters, who put it on the line for all
of us protected by the outside of the Octagon. :-)