This afternoon, I arrived at the gym for our 1 p.m. practice and walked into the back room. We have a lounge behind the gym with couches and a TV and eight bunk beds, laid out like a barracks. Some of the fighters live there during the week. In between training sessions, it’s crammed full of people watching television. I usually sit in the back and try to read, since I don’t understand Spanish.
My friend Ben informed me that he was appearing on a gameshow later that afternoon. “You know that Titanes show we watch in the back room all the time?” I remembered the show because I always made fun of it in my head.
In my primitive understanding, it seemed like a mix between a gameshow and a reality show. There are two teams, the Silver Titans and the Gold Titans, and they compete in physical challenges each week. There are both men and women on each team. What makes it amazing is that all the contestants are stunningly attractive. The women are absolutely beautiful and they basically wear sports bras the whole show. I am embarrassed by how much of it I’ve actually watched and how little I know what it involves.
After practice, Ben and I went back to the apartment. He had been on other game shows before, but never this one. I asked what he was going to do on it.
“I think either I’ll be a guest referee for a contest or maybe be an obstacle in one of their courses. Like, whoever gets past me wins or something like that.”
When we got home, Ben got changed and left. I laid down for a nap and when I awoke it was 6 o’clock. I had three hours until the next practice and I needed to eat so I went out to find something. A few blocks away I walked past a Domino’s.
When I first came down here, I was disgusted seeing all the big US chain restaurants. McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Subway. My first day I self-righteously vowed, “I will never go to places like that.” While I didn’t go for a few days, I quickly caved. Not because of convenience or price, but because I genuinely missed American food.
Peruvian food is good enough. It’s very simple. Chicken and rice. Beef and rice. Lots of vegetables. And their fish is good. But goddamnit, I came from New York City. I needed pizza. I’m burning plenty calories and I could handle some more anyway. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Domino’s pizza.
I walked in and ordered a personal pepperoni pizza. It is more like a pizza place than just delivery as it is in the US. There are plenty of tables full of families eating. I sat down with my headphones in and waited. I was listening to The Beatles’ album Revolver, but the giant television above my head was blaring some garbage Peruvian program that overpowered my music.
I was annoyed. Then I recognized a familiar voice and I looked up. Ben’s face was right in the middle of the television. He was wearing a black Team Pitbull MMA shirt and refereeing a match. I didn’t realize it would be live.
They were in an Octagon (standard MMA cage shape) in front of a large audience. Ben was in the middle and there were two scantily-clad girls on either side of him. The Gold Team and the Silver Team. They each wore boxing headgear but it didn’t seem like they were boxing. It was basically like two-on-two wrestling. Ben stood in the middle and occasionally shouted out “Acción!” In the live Twitter feed at the bottom, someone commented about the attractiveness of the Arbitro. I couldn’t discern what their objective was but it didn’t seem to matter.
All five families in Domino’s were on the edge of their seats watching it. Some people even stood up to get closer to the television. Man, I’m going to have to get Ben’s autograph.
Want to hear about more of my adventures? Check out my book about my time as a professional MMA fighter in Peru: The Cage: Escaping the American Dream.