This past weekend I attended Claudio Franca's 4th annual American Cup in San Jose, CA. Quickly becoming one of the largest tournaments in California this spring tourney brought over 800 competitors to Independence High School, which reminded me more of a compound with its endless cookie cutter buildings. 800 competitors over two days on six mats.... and it was quite possibly the smoothest tournament I have yet to attend.
I was not scheduled to fight until 5:30pm and was staying an hour away in San Fran with my cousin. I was a bit worried about my weight, but I had trained hard all week and had not touched a beer in two weeks prior so when Friday rolled around I got one last roll in and came down to 201.5! I have not weighed 201 in over 15 years at least!
Big shout out to my coach Brian for getting on the mat with me on Friday mid day before I caught my flight, and for all his help in preparation for this fight. I respect you as a brother, and love you like a father.
Also big thanks to Matt and Scotty. Both showed up on Friday and thoroughly kicked my ass. You two have become two of the best training partners and I am grateful!
Back to the tourney...
So I wanted to ensure I had plenty of time to get there and get changed and relaxed etc. etc. so I left the Mission around 3pm-ish. Traffic was perfect and it was beautiful all the way down to San Jose. Just short of an hour the bitch-in-a-box (AKA a GPS) told me I was arriving to the location on my left.
NOTE: ALWAYS use a GPS! This was not easy to find and was in a very industrial area of town. No signs, no nothing. Make sure you know where you are going and never assume they will have tons of signs and put these events in obvious places!
First things first... weight. Found the check scale and jumped on to see how their scale was weighing today. 205.8 with my clothes on. Looking solid! Good. Next get the lay of the land, eat a little, start to make sure I hydrate but not too much.
Overall the rings were run smoothly. I saw one or two down at any given time, but they were quickly filled with fighters. Divisions all were starting on time, or damn close to it! They called my division about 20 minutes late, which in Brazilian time is actually a half hour early. I stepped off the scales at 205.5 with my OTM 420 RSC 4# gi on. Had about a two pound window... damn near perfect!
So the ref called me and my opponent onto the mat. I shook his hand, and then shook my opponents hand and wished him luck. The ref actually took the time to explain his role, what he expected, and made sure we were clear on the terms and verbage he was going to use. While I do not agree that Portuguese terms should be used outside of Brazil (and Portugal), if they are going to be then the time and effort to explain them and what they mean is greatly appreciated!
Once again I am struck by the adrenaline memory eraser and even worse is that I did not have a single person to hold a video camera for me, so I am left with my Holy Grail hazed mind to piece together the match. I have gone through the fight two thousand times over the past 72 hours and still do not have answers to some of my questions. Amazingly, at first, I even forgot that I had my opponent in a triangle!
Standing he scored 2 points off the bat with a take down. I am not sure where the take down was, but I guess since he kind of stumbled and fell in my general direction HE took ME down!? Fortuitously he took me down right onto my hooks and I started to work my sweep ensuring his posture would stay down with a kimura grip on his right arm and my right arm holding his belt keep his head down. Needless to say his base was solid and I was not sweeping him anywhere, so I guarded up and started to work my guard game.
I must admit this is where I am happiest about an otherwise poor showing. I am, finally, in the right weight division at heavy 207.5>. I easily broke down my opponents posture and held him down, and in general I felt very strong. Stronger than I ever have in tournaments. Unfortunately I just could not get him to give me an arm, nor get a sweep working. I could tell I was tiring him as every time I broke him down he exhale with a sigh, but he defended everything I threw at him! Mad props!
So the clock is around 2 minutes and I need to start working for either a sub or sweep, or back out and move to another position. I am down 2. Working my entangled arm (and this is what I forgot immediately following the match when I went outside to cool down and get some air) I noticed he was starting to get lazy with his free arm, and while the triangle is not one of my go to moves (for the exact reason you are about to see) I saw the opportunity, and for a fleeting moment I swore I heard Brian's voice in the gym yelling "Triangle! Triangle!"
I am pretty sure he passed me on my right side which makes sense since I normally entangle their right arm, but overall this is all foggy at best. The little bugger squirmed out of my triangle. I under hooked his leg as he stood, he came back back and I worked to get his sleeve with my under hook arm. From there on out all I remember is a scramble with him ending in my 1/2 guard for a quick second, then transitioning to mount where he scored his final 9-0 blow. The clock rang about 8 seconds after he got the points.
A lot of the time and details I am not sure of, and I think that is the worst part! Not knowing! I was surprisingly gassed afterwards. Really sucking air. I fought hard and gave everything to the end, but I thought I was in better shape than that!? Perhaps my body adjusting to fighting at the new weight.
Overall I have a lot to process, and I am probably boring the shit out of you by now. It does not look positive in the piggy bank for the worlds next month, so I am not sure when my next fight will be. Frustrating working so hard and coming back with nothing. This is the best shape I have ever been in and certainly the most prepared I have ever been for any fight in my life. I was hoping to put in a better showing this time around.
The rest of my stay in San Fran was no less hazy, but a lot more relaxing! It was nice to finally eat a burger and beer! Thanks to all who helped me prepare, especially Dana!
Train Hard. Train Smart.