Victor Bachmann

June 25, 2010

Picking Fights and Building a Career

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Professor @ 12:38 pm

In university, one of my first wrestling matches was against Junior Pan Am champ Jeff Adamson. I had wrestled for 3 months, maybe less. It was one of the easiest matches I’ve had; he pinned me before I realized the match had started. That’s the way it was with wrestling. You wrestled the guys you drew, even if they had 8 years on you.

When I was getting ready for my first fight, and next few fights, my coaches would come to me with different opponents. “This guy from this club. He’s good at this. Has such and such record. What do you think?” Sure, whatever. I had spent the last few years wrestling who ever was in front of me, why would MMA be any different.

I’d see team mates turn down opponents, opponents would turn me down, guys would want fights against guys with losing records or assured wins. It all seemed odd to me. I didn’t care who I fought, I would just train the best I could and fight my best. If I lost, learn. Do better next time.

Smart fighters, who want to build a career, will be more decisive in picking opponents. Most sports have a season over which a team can develop skills, athletic ability, mindset, etc. The aim is playoffs or championships at the end of the season. No team is going to play championship level every game. It’s not how you develop any athelete or team.

In MMA there is no season. So deciding on a career plan is left to the fighter, or their management. Each fight and opponent is important to challenge and train a fighter against specific skills, type of fights, training needs, etc. One fight might be against a technical boxer, and they would have to train to defeat against those challenges. The next might be a tireless brawler.

Most successful fighters have a only a few truly challenging fights over the course of a career. Some will have a few tough fights in a row, then have a ‘warm up’ fight after a break.

The trick is picking fights that will challenge a fighter in ways they need it. I’ve known a few fighters build a winning record without challenging and building their skills. They can either go unrecognized, or make it to the big show ill-prepared and get washed out.

June 1, 2010

The Off Season

Filed under: Training — The Professor @ 11:41 am

I’m taking some time off from fighting. Not too long, but the earliest I’d be fighting is August. There’s no actual off season in MMA. In Edmonton, there’s at least one event every month. Often 2 or 3. It’s easy to get a lot of cage experience in a short amount of time.

Taking a break by climbing a mountain.

Like every athlete, a fighter needs to take a break and slow things down. It’s an opportunity to let injuries heal fully and properly, let the body fully recover, take care of any relationships at home, and focus on things they let slide during a training camp.

A training camp is stressful. Everyday, you are pushing yourself through grueling practices, dieting, focusing on your game plan, and looking a head to the fight. It takes a toll on your mental state, putting pressure on yourself to perform in practice every day and playing over the fight in your head. Makes for a grumpy fighter. Putting some time between fights can get you back in a good head space, and make you a much saner person.

More importantly, it’s an opportunity for a fighter to improve technically and athletically. During a fight camp, the focus is taking the skills and physical abilities a fighter already has and using that to defeat their opponent. There’s time taken to fill in glaring holes (like terrible footwork or a tendency keep hands down) and skill mismatches (I’d probably work on my submission defense if I were to fight Marcelo Garcia). But that training isn’t going get a fighter his black belt in BJJ.

With out the pressure a fight, a fighter can dedicate time to get proficient in areas they lack and master the skills they are already proficient in. Athletes who get to the top, get there because they aren’t satisfied with where they are at. Mastery takes time and countless repetitions. Athletic ability takes just as much effort.

There are many fighters who don’t do any training unless they have a fight coming up. They spend months away from the gym. It puts them at a great disadvantage. The skills a person has fades quickly when they aren’t used; use it or lose it. When they start a camp, they start with less technical proficiency that they have to make up for. The physical abilities have also diminished; they are weaker, slower, less explosive, and less enduring.

Big opportunities rarely come at opportune times. Many tickets to the Big Show come when someone gets injured and a call goes out to find a short notice replacement. For most fighters, the chance comes only once and is impossible to turn down. They’ll take the fight, whether they’ve been training or not. If they haven’t, the only thing they can do is train their cardio and hope to get a quick knock out. If they’re lucky, they’ll fight a can and it’ll look like a sloppy toughman fight. If the fighter has been training, a last minute call can make a career or give a second chance.

Of course, the biggest reason a fighter trains is because he loves it (unless you’re this guy). I did everyday this week because I can.

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