clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Keyboard to the Cage: A journalist’s journey to pro MMA

New, 12 comments

Check out this teaser video for Bloody Elbow’s own Eddie Mercado’s upcoming pro MMA debut vlog series.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Not many journalists get a chance to professionally compete in the sport that they cover. Any journalist who says they have never fantasized about getting in there is probably either lying to you, or lying to themselves. So on January 31, 2020 I, Eddie Mercado, will be stepping into a cage at Spartyka Fight League 42 to compete in a professional MMA match at 185-pounds. I will be documenting this adventure in a video series called ‘Keyboard to the Cage,’ so the audience can come along each episode as I prepare for battle.

Oh, and there will be betting odds for this fight, courtesy of BetOnline.AG.

Can you fully appreciate a sport if you have never actually done it yourself? Sure, but the perspective, and maybe more importantly the appreciation for the people who actually dedicate their lives to their craft, might be better understood if a mile is walked in their shoes. That’s why I have so much respect for guys like Herb Dean and Frank Trigg, who are referees, but have also stepped in the cage and know what it’s like to compete in a mixed martial arts fight.

I have spent countless hours covering the sport of MMA, from doing play-by-play, podcasts, results post, fighter interviews, etc. At age 34, I feel like it’s time for me to step in there and see what it’s like to go through the whole process of an MMA bout before I get to an age where it’s outside of the realm of possibilities. From wrestling to BJJ, and from striking to strength and conditioning, I want to endure all of it and put what I learn to the test in one single moment.


I want a deeper appreciation for both the sport I love to cover so much, and the athletes that risk their lives for their dreams. It’s easy to sit here and critique and ridicule fighters for bad performances or lapses in fight judgement. I believe competing in an MMA bout myself will give me a better understanding of what they have to go through, both in preparation and inside the arena. I gained a little bit of insight in December of 2019 when I traveled to Thailand to train at Tiger Muay Thai and compete in a pro Muay Thai bout out there. It was truly eye opening, but striking is just one facet of MMA. I feel like I need to get a mixed martial arts fight under my belt to curb my curiosity.

Another important ‘why’ for me is that I never want to live with the regret of never trying, or sitting in a rocking chair when I’m 80 years old saying I could have, I should have, or I would have. I want to look back and say I did that. Tomorrow is never promised. This is a fact. I want to do my best to live life to the fullest, and what better way than knucking in a cage? If I happen to inspire at least one person to pursue their dreams in the process, well then it’ll be totally worth it.

Also, I have a lot of little tiny humans looking up to me in the form of six nieces and two nephews. I want to prove to them that anything is possible if you drop the excuses, silence the fears, and put forth your best efforts. It’s easy to be afraid of failure, but easy doesn’t equate to fulfillment. The truth is, I’m just a regular dude without any special talents. The good news is that you don’t need talent to work hard or have an unwavering passion. I want to be proof of that. Inspiring humans is my ‘why.’

Why not? (Excuses):

  • None.

The match:

  • Eddie Mercado (0-0-0) vs. Will Holtzclaw (0-0-0): Middleweight
  • Three five-minute rounds
  • SFL 42 on January 31, 2020 in Norfolk, Virginia

Training regimen:

  • Jiu-Jitsu with Diego Bispo - 6x world black belt champion
  • Muay Thai with Harvey Grasse - Duke Roufus product
  • Wrestling with Seldon Wright - Old Dominion University product
  • Strength & conditioning with Andrew Delcarmen - Certified monster

How to watch:

  • The video series can be seen on Bloody Elbow in article form, along with their and MMA Mania’s Facebook page.
  • The fight itself will be available on in PPV form. If you happen to be in Norfolk, Virginia on January 31, 2020 then you can come watch live at the Chartway Arena across from Old Dominion University.

Making this possible:

SFL 42 fightcard:

Main card: (Pro)

Mitch Aguiar vs. Mumia Abu Deyali: Welterweight

Kedrick Harris vs. Kaine Tomlinson Sr: Welterweight

Thomas Blair vs. Elias Briley: Featherweight

Alan Stephenson vs. Sam Eure: 165 pounds

Ryan Parker vs. Ricky Thompson: 190 pounds

Eddie Mercado vs. William Holtzclaw: Middleweight

Prelims: (Amateur)

Evan Stephens vs. Zion Tomlinson: Light Heavyweight title

Pierre Ba vs. Matt Hicks: Bantamweight title

Adrian Soto-Perez vs. Joseph Huggins: Lightweight title

Justin Spyres vs. Brandon Eldridge: Welterweight title

Alistair Patterson vs. Jeffrey Summers: Lightweight

Manny Fernandez vs. Emanuel Thompson: Featherweight

Kaine Tomlinson Jr vs. Kyle Hall: Welterweight