I won my second amateur fight last night. I was sick as a dog all week and hadn’t been able to practice since Monday. Flu-like symptoms, literally.
Just tough up and do it, I told myself. I felt terrible and sluggish going into the fight. I was still sick and just wanted to get out of there.
Two minutes before I stepped into the cage, Ben got a call. His fiancée had fainted and he had to head home. He was my primary corner man, I was now on my own. Doesn’t matter, I told myself.
I took my opponent down right away and got his back. I looked for a rear naked choke and pounded on his lower ribs. He turtled up on the ground. Had this been a professional fight, I would have been able to rain blows down on his head. It would have been a lot easier.
The next two rounds were essentially the same. My nose was runny and I had to blow it between rounds. On our feet in the third round, he caught me with a hard punch square in the left eye. Blood splattered all over and I couldn’t see. I felt it swell up right away. I staggered back against the cage, in a daze.
He had me on the ropes, or chain links, and smelled the blood. He came at me with flying fists. I stumbled. I was in survival mode, no time to think.
I fell back to my instincts and lowered my level. I lunged in and snatched a double leg takedown and planted him down. I wanted to see if I was bleeding bad, so I wiped my face against his chest and sure enough there was a bright red smear. I clung on and finished the period on top.
I won the fight, but I felt horrible. I blew my nose; blood and mucous poured out. My eye was swollen and bloody. I was tired and sick. I went home and Ben cleaned my cuts out. In the morning there was blood all over my new white pillow case.
I went down to Starbucks.
“Buenos días, Miguel,” said the barista. I was a regular now and she knew my name. Only, she didn’t know my real name, she knew my alias.
At Starbucks, they ask for your name so they can write it on the cup. I hate the hassle of spelling out R-o-l-l-i-e, so I never use my real name. It would be especially difficult in Spanish. In New York, I used to use the name Joe. I would bring coffees back to the desk and my coworkers would ask, “Who’s Joe?” I don’t really like Jose as a Spanish alias though, it reminds me of Jose Canseco. So I use Miguel.
I was self-conscious of my swollen eye and I saw one of the guys behind the counter staring at it. I gave him a big smile. “Eres un peleador?” he asked. Yes, I am a fighter, I told him.
We talked for a few minutes and all the baristas gazed in wide wonder. I was now Miguel the Fighter.