Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mighty Mouse Retains His Title And Rampage Goes Out On His Shield At UFC On Fox 6!

I will admit that I underestimated Lamas and Pettis last night.  Nonetheless, I was correct in calling the main and co-main events.  Here is my reaction to each fight:

Koch vs. Lamas: After seeing Lamas cut Koch open while stacking and then pound him into oblivion with elbows in Round 2, it became clear that he is a top featherweight contender.  I still don't think that he will defeat the winner of Aldo vs. Edgar, but he will certainly put up a valiant effort if he gets a title shot.

Cerrone vs. Pettis: I thought that "Cowboy" would put an end to "Showtime" after he kneed Pettis during that cartwheel kick.  However, it later became apparent that there was a method to Pettis' madness.  He stunned Cerrone with a kick to the torso near the cage, then got him with a matrix-style knee strike after rebounding off the cage.  Then he caught Cerrone with a brutal liver kick, followed up with a hard left, and finished him on the ground, giving "Cowboy" his first career loss by KO.  The winner of Henderson vs. Melendez is definitely going to have their hands full with this guy. 

Jackson vs. Teixiera: Rampage went out like a man, slugging it out with Texiera, but ultimately succumbing to the Brazilian's superior wrestling and better technique.  In retrospect, the fact that Rampage made weight foreshadowed that he was going to do his best in his last outing in the UFC.  I was hoping that he would go out with a win, but six takedowns later, it became apparent that it just wasn't meant to be.  Texiera won a well-earned unanimous decision after mounting and pummeling Rampage in the final round.  After the comments that Rampage has made about the UFC brass in the media, I'm not surprised that his final interview wasn't aired.  Nonetheless, I do wish that the higher road had been taken and that we got to hear his final words from the octagon.

As far as Texiera goes, he is definitely a contender in the light heavyweight division.  That being said, I don't think he is ready for Jones just yet.  He should take on a top five opponent before he gets a title shot. 

Johnson vs. Dodson: We use the Muay Thai clinch a lot in Krav Maga, and now I see why!  The tide turned in the match in Round 4, when Johnson got Dodson in the clinch against the cage and hammered him with knees.  Up until that point, I thought that the match was pretty even.  Even though "Mighty Mouse" took down "The Magician" for the first time in his career, Dodson rocked the champion twice with powerful lefts.  In Round 4 and 5, that changed and Johnson clearly earned the decision to retain his title, ending the last round with more knees from the clinch.

Regarding that illegal knee that everyone was talking about, it looked like Dodson had lifted up his hand before taking that knee to the face on the replay.  That being said, I understand why the refereee would like to err on the side of caution.  In my opinion, that rule is dumb, anyway (along with the 12-6 elbow rule), but hey, it is what it is. 

At any rate, the matches were great and hopefully, it will get more casual fans to take MMA more seriously.  Now it's time to look forward to the match that will determine who is the best fighter below the welterweight division: Aldo vs. Edgar!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My UFC On Fox Predictions

Another weekend, another stacked UFC on Fox card!  Tonight is going to be awesome!  It will help me forget the beating which I took in Krav Maga class earlier today, haha!  Here are my predictions for tonight's fights:

Koch vs. Lamas: Both of these fighters look pretty even, but my gut tells me that Koch will win by decision.  I don't envy the winner though, because they will probably get the victor of Aldo vs. Edgar.  Ouch.   

Winner:  Koch via split decision.

Pettis vs. Cerrone: The best part about being a professional fighter is that, if you have a beef with one of your coworkers, you can settle it man-to-man.  Tonight, rivals Pettis and Cerrone get to prove who's truly the better man in the cage.  I hate to go against a guy who has beaten Joe Lauzon, Jeremy Stephens, and knocked out Benson Henderson with a matrix-style kick.  Nonetheless, "Cowboy" will probably be too tough for "Showtime", not even considering the ring rust.

Winner: Cerrone by unanimous decision.

Jackson vs. Texiera: I am a huge Rampage fan and want him to end his tenure at the UFC with a win.  That being said, his heart doesn't seem to be in MMA anymore.  He definitely has the skillset to defeat Texiera, but skills mean nothing at this level if you don't have the will.  Texiera is fearsome and hungry, and, being his early thirties, he knows that his time is limited, so I see him pulling the upset here.

Winner: Glover Texiera by KO in Round 3.

Johnson vs. Dodson: After seeing Johnson's war against Benavidez at UFC 152, I really think that Dodson is in over his head in this bout.  Although the bout was close, Johnson had amazing speed and grappling in that PPV.  I don't think that "The Magician" will go down without a fight, but I do feel that "Mighty Mouse" is going to outwrestle and submit him in Round 3 to remain the flyweight king.

Winner: Johnson via submission in Round 3. 

Let's see if I am right!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Two For Four At UFC On FX!

Alright, so I correctly guessed the winners of two out of the four main card bouts last night.  It's impossible to always predict the future, since prophets no longer exist.  At the same time, I think that I can improve my ratio to 70-80% with some additional research. 

At any rate, I am ecstatic that Vitor Belfort won, especially after finding out that Michael Bisping told him that "there's no Jesus" in one inappropriate verbal jab (see link below).  Not only does that statement fly in the face of historical fact (ask Pliny the Minor or Tacitus if you don't believe me), but taking a dig at someone's faith is pretty low.  I consider it even lower than trashing someone's family or country a la Chael Sonnen.  I'm glad that "The Phenom" taught "The Count" a lesson in manners during their bout.

You can see the comment which incurred Belfort's wrath at Chris Hall's article on Bloody Elbow:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My UFC On FX Predictions

I normally don't make predictions for UFC events which I can't watch (the only TV in the house that has FX has been claimed for a marathon of "The Big Bang Theory").  Nonetheless, my favorite fighter, Vitor Belfort, is fighting Michael Bisping, who is my second favorite mixed martial artist, so I'm going to make an exception. 

Tavares vs. Nurmagomedov: Nurmagomedov wins by decision.

Gonzaga vs. Rothwell: Rothwell wins by KO.

Sarafian vs. Dollaway: Sarafian wins by decision.

Belfort vs. Bisping: Belfort wins by KO.

I'm going to root for Belfort, but I'll be happy if either man wins.  If Belfort wins, he gets another notable win in his record.  If Bisping wins, he gets a title shot. 

Let's see if I'm right. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

CM Punk: A Guy I Can Relate To

I was a huge fan of pro wrestling growing up and still watch it once in a while.  That being said, it has gotten a bit stale, to be honest.  This is probably because WWE has no real competition and thus, no reason to up the ante anymore.  Not to mention that they have oversaturated the market.  Who can honestly sit through three hours of live wrestling every week?  Nonetheless, I love watching the documentaries, and one of my favorites to date is "CM Punk: Best In The World."

What I really like about him is that he doesn't buy into the "Cult of Positivity" culture that America has fallen prey to over the past decade.  He is brutally honest about how he feels, from overcoming a less than ideal family situation, to not fitting in at school, to being snubbed over and over when he finally makes it to the WWE, even as a champion.  He shows that being yourself has a price, but that, with a lot of hard work and determination, it is possible to succeed without selling out.  One of my favorite parts is when he writes up weeks of material for himself to perform, puts it on Vince McMahon's desk, and tells him that that's what he is going to do.  Vince is so impressed that he had the balls to do that that he lets him get away with it.  I also like that CM Punk is willing to listen to reason, too.  When he plans to quit the WWE after dealing with all of the politics and bullcrap, Joey Mercury convinces him to stay by saying that he can't change anything from his couch.  That is my favorite part of the documentary, because it shows that sometimes, we have to persevere through awful circumstances order to change things for the better. 

I can really relate to CM Punk on a lot of levels.  Like him, I don't want to be something that I not.  I want to be the unique individual that I was born to be, even if it rubs some people the wrong way.  I also want to change the world for the better.  At the same time, like CM Punk, I don't want to waste time feeling sorry for myself if things don't go my way.  I want to get up and persevere until I succeed, in the same manner that he did.  Like him, I also believe that family members should be responsible in their interactions with each other, and that they need to be held accountable for their deeds.  I know that people will constantly try to force me to be what they want me to be, in the same manner that the WWE creative team constantly tried to force him into a certain mold.  Fortunately, he had the courage to tear up their scripts and do things his way.  Likewise, I will figuratively tear up the "life scripts" that people try to force me into and do things my way.  If I work as hard as CM Punk, I know that I will succeed. 

Becoming A Veghead, More Progress On "A Valiant Effort"

I have lost eight and a half pounds on my new diet.  Basically, I decided to become a vegetarian for the first month of the New Year.  This is because I normally eat lots of beef and noticed that I was starting to feel sluggish and lazy.  Now that I am a vegetarian, I have more energy and feel much better.  I won't stay one forever, but I am definitely going to cut back on my meat intake.  I'll primarily stick to chicken and fish, saving red meat for when I go out to see UFC events.  At any rate, vegetables and fruit will remain a larger part of my diet.

I've reached the part where my Kosraean host family starts punishing me for joining the Baptist church.  To this day, it's the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened to me.  I'll save the details for the book.  Suffice it to say that some people don't grow up; they simply grow older.  One of my friends, Victor, once told me that the difference between fiction and real life is that fiction has to make sense.  My life during Peace Corps is proof of that.  I can't wait to share my story with others, in the hope that they will see how Jesus can save you from the most outrageous situations.    

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Part II of "A Valiant Effort" Complete!

I finished typing up the second part of my memoir today.  I originally wrote it freehand, so it is in three notebooks.  I start typing up the third notebook tomorrow and will probably be done by the end of the month.  After that, I can do a grammar edit, print out a master copy, and then send off some other ones to my family and friends. 

I'm at the part where I got permission from my host father to attend the Baptist church.  I only did this as a formality: I would have gone whether I was granted permission or not.  Nonetheless, I wanted to be gracious and respectful, so I asked him anyway.  There really wasn't much he could do about it: according to Peace Corps policy, a volunteer can practice whatever faith they want, as long as they don't proselytize.  At any rate, he gave me permission, but later, he started to get upset about it.  Not everyone felt the way that he did.  Alokoa, the temporary host father of one of my clustermates, still treated me with a lot of kindness, as did my vice principal, Mixon, and Pomeroy.  That being said, they weren't the ones who I was living with.

This particular situation proved that people don't always say what they mean or how they feel.  In their culture, they don't say "no" because they don't want to hurt someone's feelings.  In fact, many people in America believe that, too, much to my annoyance.  At any rate, instead of saying "no" outright, they use the "qualified yes" on Kosrae.  Basically, if they don't want to do something, they still say yes, but then they give a long spiel on all the reasons why they really mean "no."  They aren't the only culture in which this is prevalent, just the one which I am the most familiar with.  In this case, my host father gave a long speech on church conflict on the island, ending by politely saying that as long as I went to a church that believed in God, he didn't care.  I naively thought that I was in the clear, but figured out in the thirteenth hour that he meant "Heck No!"

The whole "qualified yes" thing confuses me to this very day.  I'm a pretty direct guy, and usually say what I mean and mean what I say.  For that reason, I normally take people at their word.  Now I know better, and not just because of this incident.  Other lessons from the School of Hard Knocks have taught me to look at people's actions and body language before I trust anything that they say.  This doesn't mean that I go around stiff-arming everybody.  It only means that I stay alert to possible red flags.

Krav Maga Rocks And Triangle Chokes Hurt!

I recently got a job as a Krav Maga instructor and I absolutely love it.  The martial art is simple and effective, not least because it focuses on attacks to the groin.  The inside joke among Kravists is "no groin, no Krav Maga."  Today, we had more belt tests and everybody did pretty well.  However, the true standout was a girl in her midteens who earned her brown belt.  She's a kind and soft-spoken young lady who may weigh 110 lbs. soaking wet.  However, when she fights, she turns into a freaking valkyrie!  If I didn't have protective gear, I wouldn't have my nuts or my eyeballs.  You know a martial art is effective if it can teach a young girl to hold her own against a 27-year-old karate black belt.  

My fellow instructor, Mr. Brian, had his purple belt test today.  He's in excellent shape, not even considering that he is in his fifties.  He's a highly intelligent fighter, always making sure that his technique is spot on and constantly looking at how he can improve his moves.  He was like a machine today, manhandling me and another instructor, Mr. Alan, nearly every time that we tried to attack him.  Later during the test, he was joined by Clay, who is a tall, athletic man in his thirties. 

I'm not a particularly strong guy, but with seven years of martial arts training and four years of high school wrestling team under my belt, I thought that I should do my best to give Clay a challenge.  I even lifted him up when I was in his guard, just to test how he would react.  He kept his cool and didn't release his guard, choosing to go for a triangle choke as soon as I put him back on the ground.  When he adjusted his position to get his legs around my neck and arm, I felt like I was trapped in an iron vice!  I tapped immediately because I knew that, if I didn't, Clay would make me "go to sleep."

In spite of that, I gained a love for grappling today!  Even though I wrestled in high school and made the varsity team, I was never particularly good.  I only had four wins in my best year.  This has been a sore spot for me and I have wanted to master a grappling art for a while in order to redeem myself.  The way that I handled myself while testing Mr. Brian and Clay made me feel that, if I really worked hard at it, I would do pretty well.  So I'm going to save up some money in order to cross-train in a grappling art.  I want to try out Pankration first, but no one who has seen a UFC Pay-Per-View can doubt the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  As long as I don't encounter an assailant with the surname "Sakuraba", it should keep me out of trouble on the ground, haha!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Lesson Learned In "A Valiant Effort": Haste Makes Waste

I am almost finished typing up the second notebook of "A Valiant Effort."  After that, there is one more notebook left and then it is time to edit, edit, edit!  Ideally, I will be able to finish the book by June 16, which will be the fourth anniversary of the end of my service.  It is an anniversary that I have yet to celebrate officially.  For one reason or another, plans have always fallen through.  I think that one reason was that the memories were so painful that part of me just wanted to forget that it had ever happened.  One benefit of writing this book is that I can finally deal with the hurt and move on. 

I actually reached a rather humorous part of the novel that occurred in December of 2008.  It is when I first met the missionary who founded the Baptist church that I went to.  He told me about how he led one of the first members of his congregation to Christ.  At first, he rushed him through the sinner's prayer and then, because of that man's compliance, assumed that he was saved.  However, when he brought in the church member's wife to hear his testimony, he was shocked to discover that his "convert" still believed that he was going to heaven because he went to church, did good things, and was baptized.  However, to this missionary's credit, he patiently took a different approach, leading the church member through a detailed Bible study showing mankind's need for a savior, as indicated by the human race's continued failure to obey God in the Old Testament.  Then he taught him how Jesus's life, death, and resurrection in the gospels proved that He was the Savior that mankind needed.  After recognizing from the scriptures that Christ was truly his only means of becoming reconciled to God, this church member finally accepted Jesus into his heart and was born again.

This really stuck out to me because, very often, people assume that they are saved just because they prayed in a particular fashion.  Yes, prayer is the way to communicate with God and yes, salvation involves prayer.  That being said, true repentance must come from the heart.  A person who says the sinner's prayer, but does not place their trust in God in their heart, is not saved.  They are just a church-going parrot.  A true Christian doesn't use the sinner's prayer as a sanitized version of an abracadabra-esque magic incantation.  A true Christian places their entire being into God's hands and it usually takes time to lead someone to this point.  This is why, when it comes to leading people to Christ, haste makes waste.

Got Tweeted By Ronda Rousey!

I got my first ever celebrity tweet today from none other than Ronda Rousey!  It was completely unexpected.  Every other time that I tweet a celebrity, I don't receive a response.  It's probably because they get flooded with so many tweets that they just don't have the time to reply to them all.  In particular, the beautiful women seem to be swamped with flirtacious remarks, marriage proposals, and downright harrassing remarks from their fans (or stalkers).  That's why I always figured my first celebrity tweet would be from a guy.  I thought it would most likely be Urijah Faber, since he seems so down-to-earth.  It could have even been the Rock, since he is famous for being open to his fans.  At any rate, if the inaugural UFC Women's champion decided to send me a tweet, it's clear that the work that I'm putting into building my social media presence is starting to produce results.  See people?  Persistence pays off!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Realizing How Precious Religious Freedom Is After It Is Taken Away

I've reached the point in "A Valiant Effort" where I had to choose whether or not I would please God or man.  On Kosrae, 90% of the people went to the Congregational Church.  Quite frankly, if you weren't Congregational, you weren't Kosraean.  However, I found out a lot about what their particular branch taught and discovered that it did not match what Christ taught in the Bible.  So I had a decision to make:

A) Compromise my faith and keep going to please my community, or

B) Pursue a church which taught the true gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ and suffer whatever social consequences would follow. 

I chose the latter and discovered firsthand what it was like to be persecuted for your faith.  When I came back to America, I had developed a new appreciation for religious freedom.

God gave us free will and, for that reason, no one should be forced to conform to a religion which they don't believe in.  I don't force Christianity on anybody and nobody should force their religious views on me.  I thank God that I live in a country where I can worship wherever I want.  I am also grateful that I know firsthand what it is like to have that freedom taken away so that I can appreciate it more.  One of my hopes is that, through reading my book, people who have freedom of religion in their countries understand just how valuable that right is and never take it for granted.  If they realize just how precious it is, then they will have the resolve to do whatever it takes to keep it.