The cat is out of the bag. Bisping and I are going to throw some leather one more time. It’s not like you didn’t already know I was going to be his first title defense. He’s looking for redemption, but the only thing he’s going to find is himself, face down on the canvas one more time.
My camp kicked off formally this week, but I did manage to squeeze in a getaway to Lake Havasu with my family. It’s the last family vacation before school starts, so we took the RV out there to blow off some steam. The kids had a blast doing some boating, wakeboarding, tubing and jet skiing. I mostly floated around in the water, had a few beers and managed to get a little darker.
I started following the Olympics while we were out there and listened to the coverage while we were driving back. A lot of my interest in the Olympics is because I was on a couple Olympic teams, but had I not, I’d still find myself a fan, and I’ve been following the games pretty closely since I’ve been back.
The Olympics is such a momentous event, it’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement of it all. When you watch these athletes, and they’re willing to put everything they’ve got into it, risking injury (sometimes sustaining injuries), pushing their bodies to the absolute limit, you just get the feeling that you’re witnessing something truly special.
Obviously, I’m pulling for the USA team and hope they do well in all the sports they’re competing in, but the wrestling events are the ones I’m really invested in (bet you never would've guessed). I’ve been away from wrestling for so long that I’d have to play some serious catch-up to do any coaching on that level. I wouldn’t mind helping out here and there, but I think I’d do a much better job coaching MMA. Hopefully, we get to see that in the Olympics sometime soon.
When you go through the trials to make the Olympic team, you pretty much go through hell, especially as a wrestler. I had to wrestle 13 times in the trials before I made the team the first year, because of the way they had the rules and qualifications. It’s quite a bit more than the way they have it set now. I had to wrestle 3 or 4 guys in a single elimination format, and then 4 guys in a 2-out-of-3 format to make the team.
I see a lot of stuff on the crazy, bohemian atmosphere in the Olympic Village, and from an insider’s perspective, it is kind of a big party. It’s not something that happens all at once, though. It happens in waves. As certain events wind down, and the athletes are done competing, that’s when you see parts of the village really fired up. The journey to get to the games is intense, so once you’ve finished your task, you tend to let loose. It’s just some let loose a lot harder than others. Olympians really know how to unwind, that’s for sure.
When you’re there, you’re in awe of everything, especially if it’s your first trip. You’re trying to soak it all in and still focus on competing. The opening ceremony is kind of surreal and one of the best things about the Olympics. My second time around, for the ’96 team, I weighed in on the day of the opening ceremony, so I missed out on it that time. Both times I competed in the games were just awesome experiences for me.