Saturday. It was the day of JD’s debut MMA fight, the fight he’s spent months preparing for, and the fight I’d spent months dreading. There was a weird tension between us most of the day. An outsider might have thought we were bickering, but we weren’t. We were just quiet, lost in our own thoughts and nerves.
I was surprisingly okay up until the fights started. We had plenty of friends and family at the event to chat with and keep me distracted (the 2 beers I had probably helped too), but once the fights started, any calm left within me disappeared. JD was the second fight, and although I watched the first fight, I don’t really remember any of it. All I knew is that every second that ticked away in those 3 rounds brought us closer to JD’s fight. By the time JD was introduced and did his walk-out, I was so nervous I wanted to throw up.
It only got worse when his opponent came out. JD’s original opponent had broken his arm and was forced to back out of the fight. They matched JD up with a new guy who, although he was in JD’s weight class, was 6’6” to JD’s 5’10”. We all knew that his incredible reach advantage would be a problem.
JD entered the ring and I felt something shift within me. That peace-loving hippie I usually am took a back seat to the fighter wife, the woman who realizes that once her husband is in that ring, it’s either him or the other guy. I lost care for anything other than JD keeping himself safe and winning. With his grandmother sitting next to me, I shouted, “F*ck him up, JD!” as he circled the ring, waiting for the fight to start. (Sorry, Carol, it seemed like an appropriate time for cursing.)
JD held his own in the first round. He landed some good punches and kicks, and battled through some rough blows to the face. As suspected, the reach advantage played a huge role and when the bell rang signaling the end of the first round, I think we were all a little nervous for him. I took a deep breath and thought to myself I can’t believe we have 2 more rounds of this.
But JD being JD, he didn’t back down. He didn’t give up mentally or physically. He was determined to finish the fight on his own terms. My friend’s mom equated him to a pit bull. “Yeah, the pit bull and the great dane,” I laughed.
The bell rang for the second round. JD and his opponent danced around each other, throwing the occasional kick or punch. But then…. JD found his opening.
He was able to back him up against the cage and get a good knee to his ribs. His opponent’s limbs were super long, but JD managed to get underneath him and get him on the ground. Then, he was able to get past his guard so that he found himself defenseless and get some good punches in. After a few seconds of that, his opponent tapped out and the ref came in and stopped the fight.
Not to sound cliché, but the crowd went wild. Visually, JD had been the underdog from the beginning, so to see him get the come- from-behind victory was exhilarating. I, and everyone else who’d come out to support him, were jumping up and down and screaming. I wanted to run into the cage and jump on top of him. I can’t even explain how proud of him I was.