Testing The Waters At 135, Mike Adams Circles His First Major Title Fight
A crispy golden chicken schnitzel dinner was prepared when Mike Adams visited his mom on her birthday. The family dinner was wrapping up on Sunday in Kelowna, British Columbia and Adams’ wife, Carey, went room to room to find a quiet spot to speak about her husband’s approaching championship fight.
The chicken schnitzel dinner sounded mouthwatering, however, the Adams family brought their own meal this evening. Adams, whom is cutting weight, and Carey have been on a path of health, good nutrition and wellness for many years. Now even more so since their two-year-old daughter, Ryley, was diagnosed as celiac, which is gluten intolerance.
The Adams’ strict diet has Carey pretty much preparing all of their food – even one-year-old son, Mason, is on it. Instead of the traditional dinner, Adams’ Austrian step dad has prepared, they have organic chicken stew with sweet potatoes, salad and veggies…and Adams slipped in a tiny bit of the tasty schnitzel as well…which is fine since he’s having little trouble with his second weight cut ever to the 135 pound weight limit for March 23rd’s title fight.
As Carey speaks on the phone, Adams is with his children. He spends a lot of time with them; he’s very hands-on as a father. He works, trains or spends time with his young family. It is only natural that mixed martial arts is a fixture on their home television. Ryley sees the guys fighting and insists daddy is on TV, which flabbergasts Carey, as Ryley has never seen her father fight. Carey thinks her fierce little daughter might follow in her dad’s footsteps as a mixed martial artist one day.
Maybe if some day fierce little Ryley walks down the path of MMA, daddy will introduce her to David Lea, Adams’ Toshido MMA head coach and manager of 14-years. A former MMA fighter, Lea also promoted his own MMA show, Toshido Challenge, later rebranded to World Freestyling Fighting Championships (WFF), it became the first show sanctioned by the Vancouver Athletic Commission.
Lea’s extensive knowledge, mentorship and ability to break everything down to a science have guided Adams’ 14-year journey from cornering him in his first fight in ’02 at WFF to his first major title fight this March 23 with Aggression Fighting Championship (AFC).
Over a decade Adams has been fighting professionally, beginning in the Dark Ages of MMA, the old crazy Wild West days of non-sanctioned vale tudo, to the bloomed sport it is today. Adams feels reinvigorated with the new opportunities the sport now bestows. At the start of his career, finding fights at Bantamweight was tough, nonexistent really, even Featherweight posed problems.
Adams spent the vast majority of his career fighting at ’55 and ’45, above his natural weight class of ‘35. He remembers weighing-in at Lightweight and being under a few pounds…they were the only opportunities for a 35’er at the time…and he won every single one of those bouts, too. For a decade, Adams went undefeated. And ask anyone around Adams, they’ll say it’s about time he got his title shot.
From 2010 to early 2012 he went on a two-year hiatus from pro MMA to get healthy from nagging injuries and he started a family with Carey.
At 35-years-old, Adams’ bled the sacrifice, commitment, emotion and the injuries of a professional fighter. Perhaps nobody can quite identify Adams’ commitment and passion like Carey does. She understands him. She recognizes the physical and mental demand of the sport, the disappointment his blue eyes express when he’s injured, the rigorous stress preparing for a fight, the blood, sweat and tears that are a part of competing at a high level. Particularly while the couple had two children in two years and times were demanding for the young family.
“It was tough because he continued to train and I continued to support that even though we had a young family and we were really busy,” Carey said. “I think it’s really good for him to have that outlet for his energy and for his emotion, it’s just him. It’s part of who he is and it’s something he loves so much that he needs to do that so even though it was tough having two kids and being really busy. He helped me out as much as he could and I also encouraged him to continue training and going to the gym…he needs to fight, it’s part of him, he loves it that much. I remember him at times getting discouraged thinking maybe (he) can’t do this anymore, maybe (he’s) getting too old for this, maybe these injuries are going to bring (him) down and he just kept persevering and I kept encouraging him to follow his dream and to keep going.”
When news of the at long awaited title fight spread, Carey was just as excited as her husband. She’s been at his side, revived him when he needed it. She’s watched all his fights and still gets a bit anxious from time-to-time but when he’s in the cage, in his domain, she becomes one of his loudest screaming fans. The whole family supports him.
Although fighting for a Bantamweight title, Adams has never won a fight in that weight class – his only ‘35 bout being a “very boring” loss to a wrestler from the States. No one I spoke with could remember the fighters name…it was Cory Vombaur. Carey spoke with her husband about the match up before hand and Adams knew the only way he would lose is if he gets tied up. Two rounds of being outwrestled later… Adams stepped up the pressure in the third and almost put him away. The judges favoured Vombaur on the scorecards.
Carey said he did not make excuses for it and knew what he had to do to improve next time. He came back in dominant fashion with a quick submission victory over Roy Bradshaw this past November. It was fought at Featherweight.
Combat sports will give flexibility on title fights. Coach Lea has seen lots of people get title shots even coming off of losses in other categories. He looks at this Bantamweight championship fight as not only significant for Adams’ career but an historic night for all of MMA in Canada. His opponent at AFC 16 in Winnipeg, Manitoba is the hometown’s Curtis Brigham, whom started his pro career in ‘99. Two guys who have been there from the get-go in Canadian mixed martial arts getting their shot. Ironically, Brigham fought at Lea’s WFF 4 event in 2003.
The bigger picture in this title fight isn’t that Adams has not won at Bantamweight or that Brigham has only won a single fight in eight years. Adams says, “fighters like them who have had so much experience in this sport, the amount of time they have put into this sport, all the tough guys they’ve beaten above their weight class makes the title fight vindicated.”
The night itself will make history for AFC being the first MMA promotion hosting two events (AFC 16 & 17) on the same night in different cities (Winnipeg and Edmonton). Adams says this is great for Canadian MMA and its fighters and is excited to be fighting for an inaugural title on such a historic night.
With the history and significance behind the night, Lea says that he remains in constant contact with the big show and they’re curious to see how this fight goes down as well.
“[Adams has] been on the UFC’s radar for a while now,” Lea said. “Our biggest issue was just keeping him busy. It’s been very difficult finding people who want to fight him.”
Lea would describe Adams as a loving family man in one sentence and a relentless pitbull in the following. Adams is hard to shake off once he’s focused on something – he loves to train, loves his family, he practices what he’s not good at, and he’d be in the gym putting in his hours whether he had an imminent title fight or not…but the taste of a championship title definitely makes it a little sweeter for him.