As the New Year turned, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. Moving to a new place, tattooing in a new town, training at a new gym, To my pleasant surprise though, all of these transitions have went very smoothly & the change of scenery seems to be sparking new motivation and focus!
The most unfamiliar of all of these changes has been the change in gyms. However, it has been a very pleasant transition. I've been training for the past few years at Ultimate Fitness with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento and have come to know pretty much everyone in the gym to some point. From the TAM "Varsity Squad" to the regular Joe that comes for a few classes. To go from that familiarity and comfort, to being the "new guy" at an established gym/fight camp can be an intimidating thing to face. Especially when that gym already houses one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world who is the champion of a division he is clearing out at a promotion that is as close to the top of the MMA food chain as you're gonna get (Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez), as well as a few other fighters on the UFC roster (Jake Shields, Daniel Roberts). Especially when you're going into that gym not knowing a single person there.
Even with those points of consideration in the process, the switch in gyms has been no less than great. From the 1st day I walked in the gym, caught Gil at the counter & introduced myself and got some straight-talk from The Champ on training at his gym, to every training session I've had there, I've received nothing but good energy in that building. The grappling there is top-shelf, as is the stand-up work overseen by Wooden Man Muay Thai & the practice and sparring sessions leave no room for complacency. When I left Sac, I knew I was leaving a gym that had it all under one roof, with great training partners & instructors as well as a high work ethic. So I researched all of the gyms in and around the Bay Area, and felt that El Nino Training Center would be a good place to drop my anchor. I am more than glad that I have done so. I'm already picking up new tools & addressing weaknesses in a building where everyone is humble and just ready to work while pushing you to do the same.
This couldn't have come at a better time as I am fighting what I feel is the most important fight of my career so far when I face Gladiator Challenge Light Heavyweight Champ "Mad" Mike Gonzalez in a middleweight bought on the main card for King Of The Cage: All In at Gold Country Casino on April 21st. This fight presents many challenges for me, but I fully believe that I am in the right building & working with the right people to overcome those challenges..... Come watch the fight (tix at www.goldcountrycasino.com) and I'll be able to show you better than I can tell you. If you can't make it, it will be tape delay televised, stay tuned to the Events page for info on telecast.
Big thanks and appreciation to my boxing coach, Eric Regan, my jits instructor at El Nino, Dan Marks, my strength & conditioning coach at Rise Above Gym in belmont, Doug Fioranelli & last but not least, the champ, El Nino himself for giving me a training home and for being involved. In any fight, I can't guarantee a victory. But, I can guarantee that as long as the fight is in progress I will be doing everything I can to win and make you all proud in the process!