Over my career as a professional MMA fighter in Peru, I had some amazing moments. Here are some of the most memorable photos from my journey, alongside quotes from my book.
He cocked his fist back and caught me in the mouth with an uppercut. When the punch landed, I knew it was hard. I knew it was supposed to hurt, but I was surprised that it didn’t. It was as if I was watching someone else get punched.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t Peruvian; I was a member of the Pitbull gym. I had won it for them as much as me.
As I was bringing my fist back, I left a gap open and he smashed his right fist into my face. Everything went black for a second and I felt a sharp pain radiate from my right eye and pulse outward through my face. Blood spattered across my field of vision. My eye instantly swelled up. I stumbled backwards in a daze.
Sometimes Ben would miss the pocket of fluid on his first try and had to poke the needle around my cauliflower ear. Other times, the needle would sink into the cartilage, and when he pulled the plunger back, nothing came out. I would buy needles by the dozen from the pharmacist.
The nervous energy began to drift away as my fight approached. I clenched my teeth around my mouth guard. This was why I had come down here.
The judges ruled a unanimous decision in my favor, and I got my hand raised. I was happy that it was over. I had done what I had come here to do.
I reached up and felt my right ear. The entire thing was squishy like a water balloon and it was swollen shut. For the first time, I noticed that I couldn’t hear anything out of it.
I sat down as Ben filled the entire 5mL tube with dark crimson blood.
The night before the weigh-ins, I barely slept. When I awoke, my mouth was completely dry and my stomach empty. Every movement, no matter how small, required my full mental exertion. And I still had four more pounds to lose.
As if the pressure of fighting my second professional fight wasn’t enough, I would be fighting in front of one of my idols. I had heard the rumors for a while, but a few weeks before the fight, Ivan confirmed that Jon “Bones” Jones was coming to Lima.
Before a fight, the world becomes a different place, seen with different eyes.
I sprinted across the cage and jumped in the air. I aimed at his head with a flying kick.
I didn’t want to win that way… The ring girls came out and we snapped a photo, but I wasn’t smiling.
See Part 2: Paracas, Huacachina, and Puno
If you want to hear more about my adventures, check out my book, The Cage: Escaping the American Dream.