At the regional level, defending a belt is basically just another fight. It doesn't have the high stakes like when you are fighting for a title in the UFC or Bellator, but having a regional belt still means something, and I wasn't going to go into my first CXF title defense without taking it seriously.
My opponent, Blake Troop, was talking a lot of crap before the fight, which I thought was pretty dumb because I had the belt — he didn't. Plus he was coming off a loss and I am undefeated. Regardless, I didn't think much about him before the fight (except maybe once when I showed him what I was doing with the belt he was coming for).
I don't think he liked that very much.
The game plan going into the fight was to just stand right in front of him and be the bigger man. My coach (Brady Fink) wanted me to use every tool I had to defeat him. I just wanted to get out there and counter everything he had. I really just wanted to hit him hard.
And that's exactly what I did.
For two-and-a-half rounds I laid into him. For the first round, I basically just measured him up. I figured out what his plan was and I landed my punches with bad intentions — I wanted him to respect my power right off the bat so I waited for him to strike and I countered bigger.
I expected him to come out strong in the first because all of his wins were in the first round, but I knew that if I got him into the second and third rounds he'd wither away.
The second round was a fun round.
Before it started, my cornermen told me he was slowing down and his punches had no power. That had me grounded. I found my rhythm in the second round and that's where most of the damage occurred.
I kept the punches coming, I never let up on him. He tried for a takedown, but couldn't get it, so he pulled guard and took me down. It was from that position that I opened up his face with my elbow. Blood was everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE.
People told me later that the officials sitting around the cage were joking that blood was spraying everywhere like the Shamu soak zone. I'm gonna have to hand out ponchos at my next fight.
When I see blood on my opponent it's kind of like a visual confirmation that I'm winning. It's like a weird boost of energy, it kinda gives me a second wind, an extra boost of motivation. Blood is good as long as it's not yours.
When the third round began, I knew I had him in my hands. I knew he was tired, I could see defeat on his face. I'm the opposite of him — I do better in the later rounds.
When the bell rang I ran out towards him and I slipped on the canvas. Not going to lie, it was kind of embarrassing and it ruined my plan but I laughed inside, and then carried on.
Less than a minute into the last round I had him in a triangle choke and was squeezing so hard I could see the blood gushing out of the cut I had made in the last round, so I just squeezed harder. It was like a horror movie.
I felt his body go limp, but I guess he wasn't out because the referee, Frank Trigg, didn't stop the fight. So I finished him off with some ground-and-pound to end the fight at 1:09 in round three.
And with that, I successfully defended my California Xtreme Fighting (CXF) middleweight title.
After the fight, the drama from before faded away. We both showed respect, we had just fought a bloody war.
Now I just can't wait to fight again, and I'm willing to fight anyone.
More Exclusive Photos from my Fight:
All photos by Amy Kaplan