As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m known at the gym as the French Hawaiian because I moved here a few years ago. But when it comes to MMA, I'm used to fighting on foreign soil.
I actually started training quite late. I started training at 25 in China. My boss at the time left China without any notice and all of a sudden, our whole company didn’t have a job. So that’s how I started to fight professionally.
I never had any amateur fights; #SuperFightLeague in India was my first MMA fighter ever.
At that time, SFL was quite cool, and that first experience was crazy. I shared the card with Todd Duffee, Ikuhisa Minowa, and Alexander Shlemenko. There were a lot of famous fighters for my first fight, it was a very nice organization.
For fighters in the U.S., they have to train for a long time to receive such opportunities. But in India, I fought in an outdoor stadium with 10,000 people. It was live on YouTube and was covered by all the MMA media. That experience was amazing, and it’s something I want to get back to.
My second fight in Super Fight League wasn’t the same. It was a different kind of organization the second time, mainly because I was fighting a guy who was sponsored by the promotion.
On the day of weigh ins, the promoters basically did everything to make me weaker, mainly because I was a foreigner in Asia -- stuff like that happens sometimes because they just want to see a foreigner get beat up.
After weigh ins, when were supposed to eat and rehydrate, all the SFL-sponsored fighters got on one bus, and the rest of us were put on another and sent off into three hours of Mumbai traffic. We were on the way to the hospital, but when we arrived, the doctors had already left.
I had to go back to the hospital the day of the event, and they took three big tubes of blood just hours before the fight. My opponent did his medicals three weeks before.
SFL just seemed a lot less professional the second time around. I heard they lost their investors, so maybe that has something to do with it.
After my experience in India, I did have a chance to fight in China, and in my experience, the biggest difference between fighting in Asia and the west is the stadium.
In China, the stadiums are huge. You go in a small city (maybe 10-million people), and the stadium is full. The crowd is big, the production is big, but it’s not broadcast abroad. You can actually be very successful in China, but nobody outside of China will know about you.
But after a few years in China, I decided to give Hawaii a try. And, it’s a great place to live and train.
These days, I’m still working out with Max, Yancy Medeiros, Russell Doane, Louis Smolka, and Lowen Tynanes at Gracie Technics and Hawaii Elite MMA. I’m in the gym everyday, but I also work full time as an account manager for a creative agency. There’s not a lot of people who do what I do and fight, so it’s rewarding.
Everyday, I’m in meetings talking about marketing strategy, but afterward I go in the gym and I train as a professional fighter. I’m quite happy that I can balance both, even though I would love to only be a full-time fighter.
Who knows, maybe I’ll fight in Sacramento in January. There’s an event I’d like to fight on. But for now, I’ll continue in the gym with Max and the rest of the guys. That UFC belt can be a real motivation.