It’s been a while, but I’ve been quite busy preparing for my first full-contact bout. Here in Austria, the ISKA was recently replaced by the WKF (http://www.wkfkickboxing-austria.net/wp/). Rules are a bit different than what I was used to, but that doesn’t matter as I never competed in full-contact fights before anyways.
Since my long-term goals are rather MMA-oriented, I decided I first need to spend a lot of time in the ring. So, I decided to compete in the „austrian newcomer ring-sports championships“ (Österreichische Neulings Meisterschaft im Ringsport). My plan was to fight under lowkick rules, without knee and elbow strikes.
Now I won’t go into great details regarding the event’s organization (which was awful), suffice it to say I was the only competitor in my class (Lowkick, middleweight -75kg). Therefore, I was offered a fight under full-contact rules without lowkicks, as there was another middleweight competitor without an opponent there. Obviously, I accepted the offer and was really looking forward to fighting the guy. Considering he was a wolrd championships starter in light-contact kickboxing who (just like me) decided to switch to full-contact, this promised to be a highly technical fight.
Bad news was the guy told me he wasn’t going to fight like 5 minutes before the bout was about to take place. There I was again, with no opponent. Fate had it that there was another competitor from team ironfist (http://www.ironfist.at/), who stood without a match. Although I’m not sure, I guess that guy was a thaiboxer, as ironfist tends to specialize in that discipline. That guy, however, was a light heavyweight (-81kg), so I now faced a bigger heavier opponent.
There we stood, a lowkicker and a thaiboxer from different weight divisions facing each other in a full-contact bout without lowkicks, knees and elbows. Just about perfect. The bout was scheduled to go on for 3 round á 2 minutes. If you’ve stood in the ring (or on the mat, for that matter) before, you know that those 6 minutes can appear to last an eternity.
Since this was my first full-contact bout, I decided not to have anyone except my trainer Ronny attend the event. Not having spectators with me helped me reduce pressure. I’m convinced that pressure is extremely detrimental to performance. In my first bout in a new discipline, I just wanted to concentrate on fighting the opponent, not the pressure built up by expectations and ego. On a negative note, there was no one to film the bout, so I can’t put up a video here.
In my earlier fights, my main problem was excessive aggressivity which resulted in a lack of control and overview. Therefore, my strategy was to out-smart the other guy, keep my distance and study his style for about half a minute or so before actively participating in the fight. Now half a minute doesn’t sound like much, but if you come to think about it that’s about 25% of the round. One aspect of the idea was to use that time to come up with a strategy for the remainder of the fight. Another aspect was to have the opponent shadow-spar for a while, thus exerting energy which he would miss when the action begins. Lastly, it was meant as a psychological way of driving the guy mad by just ruining his game (which with most thaiboxers is pretty much a matériel battle).
During the first round, after observing the guy for some time and taking up the initiative, I caught him with a spinning back-kick, a spinning backfist and a couple of other kicks and punches. Still, he didn’t go down. On the other hand, I wasn’t hit a single time during that first round.
Although my heart was beating heavily, I was confident when the bell rung for the second round. Indeed, it started just as the first one ended. I drove the other guy into the ropes a couple of times and definitely had an edge over my opponent.
Still, as luck would have it, I was hit – for the only time during the bout – and went down. The hit wasn’t particularly powerful or fast, it just hit the right spot – the very point of my chin. Though I can’t say for sure, I’m pretty convinced that this punch wasn’t planned, it just more or less happened. That’s also what the observers later told me. The other guy was ducking away, swinging wildly, and caught me.
On a count of 6, I managed to come up again, on 8 I put my hands up and engaged my opponent to fight the last seconds of the fight.
Up to this point, I clearly had an advantage in terms of points. Still, there was another round to go, and I was in no condition to last for another round. A couple of years ago, after I was knocked out for the first time, I decided to fight in another discipline on the same day. The whole story ended with me being brought to the hospital due to a brain concussion. Bearing that in mind, Ronny, my trainer, decided to throw the towel and end the fight.
Although I wasn’t all too happy about that just after the fight, the coming days convinced me that the decision was definitely the right one.
So, if you believe in luck, I probably lost the fight due to bad luck. For the average Joe, this answer would most likely suffice. As martial artists, however, we’ve learned to draw our conclusions from the defeats we suffer. Where others see failure, we accept and embrace a chance to learn and grow. For me, this means I have to focus even more on keeping my guard up, to avoid falling victim to lucky punches.
Conclusively, I can say that I’m firmly determined to continue fighting in the ring and engaging in full-contact fights. I’ll probably stick with no-lowkick events for the nearest future, to really hone those boxing skills, but the long-term plans are definately strongly MMA-oriented.
Now, I’ve got some time at my hands, so I should be able to post more frequently in the coming weeks.