The following is Phil Baroni's guest blog post, where he talks about the lead up to his DREAM 18 - GLORY 4 bout against Hayato Sakurai on New Year's Eve. If you missed the earlier editions, you can check it out here - Part 1: It's now or never for me, and I sure don't like the sound of 'never'. | Part 2: Black Eyes, Injuries, and a Solo Flight to Japan
I'm feeling pretty good. I have aches and pains but they are from working hard and that's to be expected. The physical work is just about done. I have some pads to kick and a few rounds to roll, but it's all pretty much by feel now. It's time to listen and protect my body. I'm not going to get in much better shape these last 2 weeks. I have to maintain and make sure I feel good.
My trainer Greg Surat has really helped me with my stand up and I've learned a lot over the past 8 weeks. He has put a lot of work in training me. We have done 10 rounds on the Thai pads and 5 minute MMA rounds with the occasional sprawl thrown in.
I'm usually a sparring-based fighter. I get most of my conditioning and confidence by sparring hard rounds 3 times a week, but not this time. I sparred, but not thrice a week for 8 weeks. I did much more pad work, and although it is technical, it's hard and exhausting. That way I can't pace and find positions to rest, which I am a master of.
I'm headed over to AKA now to do some more pads. I'll probably roll with the jits class after, and jump in a few rounds on their no gi marathon roll.
I've been on the phone a bunch with Mark Coleman. He is giving me a lot of inspiration. He brought me back from the dead once before, giving me a new life and a new start start to my career over in Japan. I'll always be thankful to him for that.
Talking with him instils confidence in me. The guy's a hall-of-famer, a UFC and PRIDE champion, and The Godfather of Ground and Pound. If he believes in you, how can you not believe in yourself?
A lot goes into the mental of training for a fight. It's the people around you and the environment you're in that makes a big difference. It's not just how strong you are, or how much you know when the bell rings. It's a lot more than that.
I was finishing this up when i realized I was late for my last session with Greg...
Okay, I just got back from breakfast with him. Earlier, we did another 10 rounds on the pads, with a few rounds on boxing, a few on Thai boxing, and closed out on the leg kick pad.
F*ck, I've never been so tired. I really exhausted myself, more than sparring, more than wrestling, more than any mit work. I really got pushed today. No matter how much I bitched, there was always a pad in my face to punch or kick.
It's great having a trainer. I need to be pushed.
There are lots of big fights going on at the gym and the guys are getting ready. The intensity in the room is great and the pressure is on, but I'm not a high man on the totem pole these days, and my fight brings with it a fraction of the money or prestige of the others coming up.
It is what it is. This is a business. Yeah, it's the hurt business, but still a business. It's the flesh trade, and things aren't fair, nor are they supposed to be. Nobody's making what they deserve, and the guys promoting the fights are making the lions share. It is what it is, but like I said, it's the flesh trade and anything dealing with flesh is a dirty business.
Ronda Rousey touched on it a bit in an interview she did about the Olympics. She is new to the hurt business, and once she has a few bad showings, her opinions on fighting will soon change. I wish her the best though, and I hope she is never in a place where I find myself, with the large majority of fighters trading health for dollars.
Back to to my blog, my fight, and more positive opinions: I'm going to Japan. F*ck, the work just got completed. I should be happy!
I just listened to Wanderlei Silva's video about going back to Japan and fighting Brian Stann. The thing I admire about Silva the most, is that he is always very positive. I remember speaking to him at Randy Couture's gym in Vegas. We were both about to shower and he was talking positively about turning 33. We are the same age, and I was kinda down about it at that moment but he was saying this is the best. He says he's still young, had tons of experience, and this was going to be his prime years. He felt great and was happy. He was in the UFC. We both were at the time, and he said he was going to do great. Everything was great! And now, here he is, still going strong, and headlining a UFC event in Japan, his old stomping grounds. It's amazing, really. It's all in your head. It's all in your mind.
Most of it anyways.
There are guys who burn out, there are guys who fade away, and there are guys like him. Wanderlei calls himself a phoenix. He is reborn, and a KO in Japan would do just that for him and give him another run in the UFC. Think about Vitor Belfort and remember his lows, like getting beat standing by Sakaraba in Japan and not looking good at all. Here he is today fighting for titles in the UFC. Yeah he is a great athlete and skilled fighter, but the important thing is that he never believed his bad press. He, like Silva, didn't listen to all the negativity and they're still rolling in the biggest promotion, headlining huge cards.
It's an inspiration to me. Who knows, maybe Glory picks up steam, and I find myself regularly heading to Japan again to fight on huge cards. Maybe ONE FC is the new Asian super-power, and I find myself in title contention.
You have to be in it to win it, and I'm still rolling. That's what Coleman told me. He's proud of me for never giving up, not listening to the bullshit, and getting myself on these huge cards.
He told me I'm a 'star' and I'll catch a break if I just keep going. He said he wishes he could be out in Japan with me. I also wish he could be here, but he has his girls and it's the holidays.
I just feel I need to keep training hard. I have a new coach, and my stand up is improving a lot. I'm in a new environment, with the cream of the crop talent-wise to train with and learn from everyday. I'm only going to keep getting better. Things are good. Life is good. I still have a chance to accomplish my goals, and not many people have that opportunity in life. I'm blessed.
Who knows, I'm a premiere executive on United Airlines, and I might even be upgraded to business class on this trip.
I'm taking off Dec 25, and I'm going to Japan to pick up my present -- a victory against a Japanese fighting legend in Hayato Sakurai. I'm going to start the new year off right, with a BANG! Fuck, I should, because I'm going to Japan for one reason, and that's to take care of business.
I'd like to thank facialabuse.com, Future Legend, and the fans for supporting me all these years.
-NYBA, Phil Baroni