Ozzies do Kansas City – Invicta FC Weigh Ins, BBQ and Celebrities
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Two thirds of the Aussie fight team:
Fiona (next to Alex) is fighting Cyborg, stepped up on short notice. What a warrior!
Fighting professionally is surely a stark learning experience if anything. Coaching fighters is another art in itself and every trip to the USA is a learning experience for me.
For those of you who don’t know me, I made my first trip to the USA on my own when I was 17, where the UG forum hooked me up with the amazing Andreh Anderson. He kindly showed me a world I’d only dreamed of, from Beverly Hills Jiu Jitsu Club to Gokor’s club where I was repeatedly heel hooked by a younger fellow named Karo, neck cranked by the endearing Gene Lebelle, and caught ring worm at Renzo’s old academy near Queens (and scared to death by crack-heads in the basement).
Every trip since has been a magical experience where I’ve learned to appreciate the great country with its warts and all. Now in my 30’s I’m starting to understand it a little better.
The weigh-ins at Invicta was an interesting experience to say the least. Big John gets up there are goes through the rules in the way he’s done a thousand times before but still manages to inject some life and humor into it. He truly is the best there is, was and ever will be.
As Australian media I’ve covered multiple Australian and American UFC events but Invicta FC, although very professionally run, still has that exciting indie feel to it. The media attention is almost on par with the UFC but the WMMA premium event has its own bunch of traveling groupies that woo from the audience.
The fighters are not just fighting for themselves but they carry the weight of women’s MMA on their shoulders; there can be no boring fights. It is exciting times for both coaches like me and fighters like Astro Girl.
Simply it’s a dream come true.
For the Aussie fighters, it’s also a weird culture shock. They are suddenly being thrust amongst the girls they have looked up to on TV for years. Someone like Alex, who now has a name in Japan, is almost completely unknown by the USA fighters. There are rumors she is a Jiu Jitsu Champion, while others have heard she is a kickboxing champion. Most people don’t even notice her sneaking about. Mostly she comes off as a drooling fan boy (girl?) when around the girls she looks up to, even though she has a lot more experience than some of them.
Glen is having a ball…
Alex is a natural Atomweight, 105, which got a good laugh out of Sarah Kaufman when she asked how much she was cutting as we dressed her up like a snowman in her sweats. She’s fought as high as 120 Lbs just to get a fight, as there is a real drought of lady fighters in Oz. When we told Sarah 2lb she almost keeled over laughing. Alex glared at me so I told her to get back to work. Needless to say she easily lost the 2lbs and I put up with the ill looks. Needless to say Sarah was cool as hell and offered some great tips on cutting and training.
Which brings me to the topic of taking photos. Wow, I didn’t realize how strung up on anti-fanboy culture us Aussies were. Pseudo-celebrity Jamie Kennedy once complained that Australian’s were pretentious dicks because we pretend that we don’t care about celebrities even though we are clearly wowed. Whilst he was pretty transparent with his silly statement, there may be some truth there. Sitting this morning in the lobby I was meters from Tito Ortiz, Pat Barry, Kieth Jardine and a bunch of other UFC fighters. I looked at my crew wide eyed and then we sighed, realizing that we’d been brought up to despise the paparazzi culture/Fan craze culture. It’s a deep seated shame ensued by our parents from birth.
Admittedly I did quietly approached Keith Jardine and mumbled something to him out of shame, which ultimately positioned me as more of a creep. That being said Alex is fighting his fiancée so he was really cool about it and happily took one.
Before I forget, Pat Barry is as cool as you think he is. A genuinely funny guy, that’s happy to chat. The problem is I’ve told him six times now I’m not going to hassle him for an autograph/photo till later in the week, to the point where he probably wants to just stick the pen in my eye and get it over with. He had some funny stories about fan intrusions, which further made us sink into our aussie guilt. American fans can be rough! I also managed to apologize to Tito for even thinking of asking him. He told me to stop apologizing, to which I apologized again.
The news guys have been pretty funny, they were complaining they couldn’t even find Alex on Twitter. We were like “Twitter? Does anyone use that?”. People were shocked. So we’re googling hashtags right now. One could say Astro Girl is the counter-aussie to our infamous Bec Hyatt, a marketing genius. (Check out the Willy Bum Bum hype up video if you don’t understand, even I’m super excited to see that fight now). She is quiet, reserved and lives eats and breaths the Budo Way. Which is better? Who knows, in the end it’s all about what the fans like.
Back to culture shocks, honestly there is not much to do in Kansas, though it’s not a particularly bad city by any means, it’s just a little quiet. We’ve taken to obsessively sampling BBQ and rating them in a mock Man Vs Food program. So far man has lost every bout. Today we secretly snuck some Gates BBQ into my room while Alex was cutting weight, fearing reprimand of the hungry she witch. We dove into a brisket sandwich each whilst sharing a burnt end roll. They didn’t even pay lipservice to the vegetable side of things. Although I have to rate the sauce highly, the overall experience was a 5/10. Jack Stacks still sits at the top so far, with a solid 8/10.
People have no concept of meal timing here, rather it seems like they base it on an indulgence-based system… Eat whatever you want whenever you want. BBQ joints are full at 10 am, pancake joints are full at all times of the day, pizza is served at breakfast. I felt like my visa came with colon cancer.
We ended up eating Mormon cereal in the supermarket fight day.
The big day is here and the little big fighter is calling, hope you are all cheering for Astro Girl. As one of my favorite US presidents once said “Walk softly but carry a big kick”…or something of the sort.
See you guys after the fight.
Part 4 - Next up:
•New York with Marcelo Garcia, Bernard Faria and John Danaher!
•Its time for Alex to let out the inner Fat Albert.
•Can Glen find a wife in NYC?
MMA gear now available at the UG Store