Wayguk Fighter – DEEP Opponent Change for Fryia
It’s been quite a while since I last checked in with Top MMA News with an update on my training and fighting in Asia. This isn’t because there has not been anything going on. On the contrary, every time I sat down to write a blog post something happened that drastically changed what I had to write about. The last two months have been a rollercoaster, in terms of fighting and in personal terms. Preparing for a fight always has its physical and emotional ups and downs, but this month has been particularly unpredictable
The last time I checked in, I let everyone know that I would be fighting DJ Taiki at DEEP 49. It was definitely a big fight against a world ranked opponent. I was lucky enough to watch Taiki fight Mitsuhiro Ishida at DREAM 15 before our fight. He lost a unanimous decision after getting thoroughly out-wrestled and out-grappled, which definitely was comforting to me. Shortly after watching Dream 15, I found out that my opponent would be changed because Taiki was injured. No big deal, it happens all the time. My new opponent would be Katsunori Tsuda; not nearly as big a name as Taiki, but still an undefeated (3-0-1) fighter and a tough match up for me style wise. In preparing for Taiki, the strategy was clear; weather the storm of strikes to put him on his back and pound away. With Tsuda it’s a very different story as he seems to have much stronger wrestling and jiu jitsu than Taiki, but he is not in the same league as far as stand up skills. The focus of my training shifted a great deal, but was going well.
Then I got fired.
A typical teaching contract in Korea includes a one month bonus and airfare home for the teacher when they complete their contract. Every once in a while you hear of teachers being fired in the 11th month of their contract so that sketchy school directors can save the cost of airfare and bonus money. Guess what happened to me? Altogether our boss was trying to stiff me and my girlfriend out of a combined 12 thousand dollars. Not exactly chump change.
In the meantime, my girlfriend and I had already booked and paid for a 9 day vacation to the Philippines. Not the best time to have just dropped a big load of money but at least it was already paid for and provided some stress relief from our situation. As every fighter knows, no vacation is complete without checking out the local gyms and training opportunities. Before leaving for the Philippines, I was lucky enough to get in touch with some guys who train at one of the best jiu jitsu/mma clubs in the country. The club was run by Alvin Aguilar, the first Filipino BJJ black belt. I was able to get two days of boxing /kickboxing in when we first arrived in Manila and another two days of Jiu Jitsu before we left.
Alvin Aguilar also runs URCC, the Philippines biggest MMA organization. As it turns out the URCC was having their biggest show of the year on the day of my arrival in Manila. The fights were very well produced and the event was extremely well run. As for the fighters, there were some good jiu jitsu players, some decent wrestlers and lots of good kickboxers but there were not a lot of fighters who looked like they had done lots of cross training. All in all it was a very entertaining night of fights.
In between our days in Manilla, we made our way to the Island of Boracay. I can not do the place enough justice, it was simply incredible. A few days of laying on the beach, snorkelling and generally lazing around in a tropical paradise was just what the doctor ordered.
With my vacation over, I returned to Korea to finish preparing for my MMA fight and continue my legal battle against my boss. I will not get into details but I will say that we were ruthless in our approach to the legal battle. We wanted to make a clear statement that all foreigners are not pushovers and school directors can not simply break the law and expect them to roll over and go home without a fight. We exerted pressure on our boss through legal the legal system, through the labour and pension board, and through a lawyer. We also exerted some less than legal pressure through numerous social avenues that made life difficult for our boss. With the help of my Korean friends from Daegu MMA, we brought a lot more heat on my boss than I think she was ready for. It took over a month and a half but our boss finally tapped. She had enough and decided to settle out of our court instead of fighting a battle that she did not expect to be in. It was a huge relief after one of the most stressful things I have ever been through.
Being able to physically address a problem is much more my style than filling out papers for the labour board. The day to day grind at Daegu MMA was just what the doctor ordered as far as stress relief from the other part of my life. It was also a good time to be training as there were a few young fighters with amateur fights coming up as well as Un Sik Song who would fight a pro kickboxing fight two weeks before me and an MMA bout shortly after my fight. Some hard training and a focused diet helped me drop some pounds and lean out to a weight that I have not seen in a long time. I always said that given a big opportunity I would drop from 145 to 135. Getting my natural weight down to 148 lbs made the remaining cut look easy. After a hard workout, I was usually weighing 142 lbs. My fight was scheduled to be at 63 kg (138 lbs), which would be no problem. And then that changed too.
Last Tuesday, I was informed that my fight was now going to be at 70 kg. There was no explanation as to why and there was no discussion of a possible catch weight. I was simply told that my fight was being moved up two full weight classes. While I am not happy about it, I can not say that I am shocked. I have heard all of the rumours about how foreign fighters get treated in Japan and how the promotions are disorganized and leave details to the last minute. I was half expecting something like this to happen, but still… 16 pounds difference is a LOT.
This week and the few days after the fight are going to be chaotic. I fly to Japan on the 26th of August, fight on the 27th and fly back to Korea on the 29th where I will teach for two days before flying back to Canada on Sept. 1st. Arriving in Toronto on the evening of the 1st, I have to quickly drive the 8 hours back to Sault Ste. Marie to start my Highschool teaching job on the 2nd. Yikes!
My Korean experience has been a great one. It’s been full of lots of ups and downs in both my fighting life and my personal life. I’m really looking forward to going out on a high note on Aug. 27th in DEEP.