By the time you get round to reading this, I will have arrived in Montreal, Canada ahead of the final portion of my training camp. The travelling, from Indiana to Florida and then to Montreal, is all geared towards one thing – defeating my next opponent, Michael McDonald, on April 21st at UFC 145.
Thankfully, despite many flights, I never, ever suffer from jet lag, because the first thing I do when I land is hit the gym and break a sweat, so my body quickly acclimatises. I'll spend an hour or two in the gym, work up a nice sweat, get a good meal in just before bed and then sleep just as I would when at home. I'll then sleep right through the night and wake up as if I'm still back in Indiana. No jet lag whatsoever, I promise you. I should write a book on this stuff.
I love Montreal. It's an awesome place. The only thing that gets me down from time to time is the cold. That's one thing I could do without while staying here. Still, I've traveled to a lot of countries during my 14-year mixed martial arts career, and I can safely say Montreal boasts some of the best women and the best food. The only thing it seems to lack is Mexican food – which is a great benefit to my diet, truth be told – and a bit more heat. If they could sort those two things out, it would be as close to a perfect city as you can get.
I've been training for the past six weeks now. The first two weeks were spent at my gym in Indiana - working on pre-conditioning and just getting in shape – and after that I went across to Florida to train with the Blackzilians Team and work with Mike Van Arsdale and the rest of the guys. I've been training out of there for the past three weeks and I'm now ready to begin the final chunk of camp in Montreal at the TriStar gym.
It's exciting to start this final stage, as I really get a kick out of working with Firas Zahabi and the TriStar crew. Firas took me in at a low point during my career and I owe him a lot for doing that. While others might have turned a blind eye, he revamped me and helped bring me back to where I was supposed to be. Not only that, he allowed me to stay at his house when I first hooked up with the TriStar gym.
There are also a ton of training partners waiting for me in Montreal. We've got Ivan Menjivar, John Makdessi and Yves Jabouin, as well as a ton of other guys, amateur and pro, that will help push me to the limit in the next few weeks.
Interestingly, although I tend to split training between separate camps, my two coaches both have the same ideas and attitude towards my career. They know the emphasis is placed on dominating my opponent, never letting up and doing all I can to get that win.
We all share this same mentality going into a fight, and that makes for a really good synergy. It's quite funny actually, because I'll often go from camp to camp and find myself being critiqued on exactly the same thing by two different coaches. We're talking real subtle stuff here, as well. Maybe I should have got the hint first time around and made the alteration before coach number two spotted it. Regardless, it's great to be working with coaches that are both on the same page and both completely dedicated to bringing me back to where I want to be – on top of the bantamweight division.
The reason for ending my camp in Montreal is simple really – it's far easier to make weight out here. I don't have the comfort of home foods in Montreal. It's tough to find tacos out here. The good thing about Florida, on the other hand, is that there is a heavy focus on wrestling, which used to be one of my main weaknesses a couple of years ago. Van Arsdale has me working on wrestling every day in Florida, and that kind of repetition and attention to detail has been a Godsend for me.
My striking has also come on leaps and bounds due to working with Henry Hooft. He trains some of the best strikers in the world and is an awesome striker in his own right. Henry also has a philosophy on striking and a pressure style that falls right in line with what I've been trying to do in the fourteen years I've been involved with this sport. I couldn't be happier with where I'm at now, both in terms of wrestling and striking.
In all honesty, the only problem I have with training is the fact it takes me away from my daughter. It kills me to have to leave her and know I won't be seeing her face for weeks on end. I miss taking her to school and picking her up afterwards, then asking her how her day went. When I'm home, she's with me all day, every day, and that simply isn't the case when I'm away training. You go from one extreme to the other, and it takes some adjusting to.
It's a sacrifice I have to make, though. The money I get from fighting goes towards her future, and the belts I win in this sport act as mementos I can proudly show her when she gets older. I can tell her, 'This is why daddy had to spend so long away from home – this is what he won'...
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