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“Pain is merely weakness leaving the body”

     About 50 miles north of Sand Diego on Highway 15, right in the middle of Southern California’s wine country, is a non descript building next door to a ballet studio.  This is Team Quest’s California MMA Training center and on any given day you are likely to find several of the most talented fighters in the world here.

     As I enter the Team Quest gym I am greeted by a cacophony of grunts, shouts and exhalations as fighters go about their workouts.   The sound of a huge man hitting the biggest tire that I have ever seen with a 20 pound sledgehammer thumps heavily through the air.   The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Snowis barely discernable on the gym’s sound system over the noise. 

     Where did they get a tire that big? I wonder.

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Inside the World of the MFS Elite

By: Donovan Craig

Angles. The quick, rhythmic pop, pop, pop of punches hitting mitts echoes through Pat Miletich’s training center in Bettendorf, Iowa. UFC fighting legend and master trainer Pat Miletich is working the pads with one of his students. Pat begins to mix it up, circling, trying to get the guy used to movement. The old fighter’s physical grace emerges as the ex welterweight champ smoothly feints and circles, jukes and jives his student. It becomes a sort of dance, with Miletich giving the guy angles and the tall blonde fighter trying to cut off his coach. The object of the exercise is not power, but speed, fluidity, and footwork. Pat is teaching the guy how to move his feet so that he can throw his punches and kicks from deceptive angles.

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On Subtlety and Violence Header

Sometimes it’s something a fighter doesn’t do as much as what the other guy does do that gets him beat. These omissions can be tiny, almost invisible to an untrained eye. A right hand held an inch too low, a posture a bit too forward in an opponent’s guard, a slip or parry mistimed by a fraction of a second, a momentary lack of concentration.

Was it Rashad Evan’s Hail Mary right hand, or the fact that a frustrated Chuck Liddell was chasing him around the ring with his hands a fraction too low that put The Iceman to sleep in their 2008 match? When Rampage Jackson KO’d Wanderlei Silva in their third match it was with a haymaker over a right hand that Wandy left out a second too long. Would Gabriel Gonzaga’s slow-arching head kick have ruined the career of Mirko Cro Cop if the Croatian had the proper respect and kept his distance from the Brazilian? Randy Couture’s head movement is just a fraction too stiff, causing him to be bedeviled by an opportune punch throughout his hall–of-fame career.

Victory or defeat is often secured in such tiny spaces and brief flashes of time. Fighters are constantly trying to create such mistakes on the part of their opponents or lull them into a false sense of security before going in for the kill. When fighters get knocked out, especially when it is suddenly by one punch, they will often shrug and say, “I got caught,” as if they got careless and fell into a hunter’s trap.

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“It’s called the Mongolian Attack…”

I am watching Greg Jackson as he instructs Keith Jardine and Tait Fletcher on one of Jackson’s famously arcane mixed martial arts techniques before they begin a sparring session at Jackson’s New Mexico gym.

“What the Mongolians would do is rush in with their cavalry,” says Jackson from outside the ring, his eyes wide with the excitement of a kid revealing the plot to the next Harry Potter. “Then, when the knights would charge out to confront them, the Mongolians would turn around and appear to retreat. Then suddenly they would turn in their saddles, fire their bows over their shoulders, and decimate the knights with their arrows…” Jardine and Fletcher hang on Jackson’s every word.

“The point is, even though it looked like they were retreating,” Jackson pauses to be sure they get the point, “they were actually drawing you in.”

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