Fighters, Al Bernstein, Tommy Toe Hold & Kid Nate tell what they're most thankful for

I thought it would be a fun idea to speak to some of my fighter buddies and folks that I know in the combat sports bubble to find out what they're most thankful for this year, and what type of holiday traditions they might participate in.

Growing up in my house in NY was quite the experience at Thanksgiving. Being half Sicilian and half Irish, the family holiday mix was a festival of love, food, booze, and bocce ball. There was always the guarantee that a scuffle would break out over who was better, the Yankees or the Mets, and someone would invariably leave pissed off. Looking back, I think the thing I was most grateful for was that I got to see all my cousins and got to eat from a spread that rivaled a banquet thrown by Henry VIII.

These days, now that I've grown up (for the most part), I'm thankful for other things. Family, friends, the fact that I am gainfully employed and live comfortably. I am also grateful that spiders don't have wings, that my cats can't tell people what I talk to them about or that my neighbors don't know that I throw away their horrible rendition of Starbuck's cranberry spice cake.

I thought it would be a fun idea to speak to some of my fighter buddies and folks that I know in the combat sports bubble to find out what they're most thankful for this year, and what type of holiday traditions they might participate in. I was positively delighted that I got such a great response from them, and am happy to bring their Thanksgiving thoughts to our readers.

Phil Baroni:

I'm most thankful for my hot ass wife and my family. And Jack Daniels.

Our tradition will go a little something like this; we'll go to the casino buffet and eat like fat f*cks. I'll get shit faced drunk and probably gamble away a bunch of money. By then, we'll be arguing and we'll leave in separate taxis. I'll be sleeping on the couch with the dog when it's all said and done. [Laughs heartily]

My favorite food is whatever is on the buffet and whatever free drinks they're bringing me at the Blackjack table.

Cub Swanson:

I'm most grateful for being able to still chase my dreams. Spending time with my family in my down time is also very important to me.

As far as tradition goes, me and my brothers, we've got quite a big family, so for all the holidays, our tradition is to bounce around from family to family. It's about how many parties we can get to in a day [laughs]. We'll eat two or three times, but if it's a busy day, it can be five times that we'll eat. I can pretend I'll only gain a couple of pounds, but it could end up being five or six pounds.

Tommy Toe Hold:

I'm thankful for grey shirts, bad judges, Jessica Rabbit, and all the goofy ass people involved with MMA that I get to make fun of every week. And by all the goofy ass people I mean the same five or six fighters week after week whether they have a fighting coming up or not...or they're retired.

At the Toe Hold Thanksgiving everybody gets drunk before noon, I cut the turkey with my beard, and things usually end up at a strip club because everyone deserves to have a little turkey on Thanksgiving. After that we head back home and everyone watches Jack and Jill and we go around saying why we're grateful we're not Adam Sandler.

Daniel Cormier:

The things I'm thankful for, first and foremost, is having a healthy family. I've got a beautiful girlfriend, two healthy kids, my mom just celebrated her 72nd birthday, I'm glad for all that. I'm also thankful for the success we've had this year, and the ability to provide for them the life that I think they should have.

Family tradition goes like this; we'll get up in the morning and meet at my mom's house and have the first meal there. Then me and my siblings all pack into our cars and start house hopping to cousins, aunts, the time we're done, we've eaten three or four times.

Somebody is always unlucky enough to have to be the designated driver, and they end up not having as good a Thanksgiving as the rest of us. There is definitely a lot of alcohol. My family enjoys their liquors.

My favorite dish is dirty rice. It's white rice with roux (flour and butter simmered until it's brown), liver and ground beef. It's the best. It's the rice dish of choice down here in Louisiana. My next fight will be at 205, so this is my last time to really get my food in. My plate will have dirty rice, turkey, ham, macaroni, green bean casserole. [Laughs] My plate is just going to be brutal tomorrow.

Cung Le:

I'm most thankful for my family, being healthy again, being part of TUF China, and my new movie, Certain Justice.

Our tradition is like many others. We go around and eat with family. Between my family and my wife's family, there's going to be a lot of eating [laughs].

My favorite dish is probably the turkey.

Julie Kedzie:

You know what, I'm most thankful for my team.

Right before I fought Amanda Buckner, it was my first Thanksgiving all alone, because I didn't want to go to any family gatherings and be around the temptation to eat, so I ended up staying in bed and watching movies all day long. Since then, anytime I have a fight near a holiday like that, I just use it as my rest day and I lay in bed all day, and it's awesome. The only movement I make is to change the channel. There's a bunch of us fighting the same weekend, so I'm gonna go in to the gym for a little bit, and then I'm going home to lay in bed and not do shit.

Isaac Vallie-Flagg:

I'm definitely most thankful for my dad's recovery and beating his cancer.

My tradition will be with Cub (Swanson). I found out we're hitting four or five family parties tomorrow. I'm driving out to Palm Springs to do the family away from family thing. It will be a good time with Cub and Steve and their family. I know Cub said we'll put on five or six pounds, but I'm thinking it will be more like eight pounds [laughs].

My favorite dish is pecan pie, for sure.

Al Bernstein:

On a personal basis, I'm thankful for the health of my family, which of course, most people are, but in my case, my wife is a breast cancer survivor, so I'm very thankful she has had another great, healthy year.

In the sport of boxing, that I cover, I'm grateful for the very best year the sport has had in almost 25 years. The product that boxing has put out this year has been so spectacular, that I believe it's the best it's been for the last quarter century.

For us, Thanksgiving is always spent at home with a small gathering of relatives-maybe the biggest group is six or seven, max-and we spend a very quiet holiday. We'll watch the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, which is always a staple, and then we'll watch a little football and have turkey. Maybe we'll play some games. We're just very big on celebrating at our house with family and a few friends, and making it a reflective and fun day.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish...hmmm, I love stuffing. Not inside the turkey, but outside. I also love green bean almondine.

Nick Newell:

I'm just very thankful to be alive and to be able to do what I love for a living. I'm grateful to be able to pursue my dreams and to be able to grow as a human being. It's very validating knowing that people care about when you fight and what you do. I'm so glad that I live in a country that allows me to do something like be a professional fighter. Not everywhere has such freedoms and opportunities as we have in the United States, and I'm so thankful for that, as well. I feel like I'm such a lucky guy.

I have a very informal family, so we usually just eat a quiet dinner. We don't have a big celebration, and everyone kind of does their own thing. It's always different each year.

Demetrious Johnson:

I'm thankful for a healthy family, me having a successful career in 2013 and just to be alive.

Our tradition is just to spend some time with the family, relax and eat some food.

Lorenz Larkin:

I'm most thankful for a healthy far. [Laughs] I don't want to jinx myself.

I don't really have any Thanksgiving traditions, but my family does. They don't let me touch the food first [laughs]. I know for a fact that by the time I'm done tomorrow, I will have eaten more than four times. I start out at like 1 pm and by the time 6pm rolls around, I'm full, but I still grab plates to take home.

Kid Nate:

I'm most grateful for my family.

My Thanksgiving traditions revolve around a big meal and football, and I love cherry pie.

We here at Bloody Elbow would like to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

As the day progresses, a few of the guys have promised to text me snaps of their Thanksgiving plates, so I'll update the thread with whatever comes in. Julie Kedzie took my advice to grab National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and already sent a picture in.


Isaac Vallie-Flagg's plate:


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