How I Started Mixed Martial Arts
I began training with Rodrigo Vaghi in the late 90’s. Several fighters were training there at the time including Mike Rogers, Todd Fox, Steve Berger and Hal Goodman. It was natural for me to transition into MMA with all these fighters around me. We had epic battles in our gym. Our matches were all no time limit and on several occasions we fought for hours with the same person. Berger and I had an epic 3 hour battle one day. This was around the time he had fights with Jeremy Horn and Shonie Carter. Best friends outside of the gym, each of us was so competitive we would despise losing to the other.
After 2 MMA fights, I took a fight with Adrian Serrano. At the time, Serrano had 56 fights and just fought in the UFC 1 month earlier. I can remember many people telling me I shouldn’t take the fight and that he was too experienced. I knew I had the style to beat him and wasn’t intimidated. I trained with Rodrigo Vaghi and I knew Serrano could do nothing to me that I hadn’t seen already.
Fighting in the SFC in Illinois we never weighed in and the shows were unregulated. The promoter would say, “You are about this weight and he will be about this weight, so let’s fight!”. Also, we would pick the length of the fight for each match in the rules meeting. Rodrigo and I picked 5 rounds because I was accustomed to fighting for hours. We settled on 3 rounds. The rule also stated that the outcome would be an automatic draw if there was not a knockout or a tapout.
My strategy with Serrano was simple. Out box him the first 2 rounds and take him down and submit him in the third. By not showing my wrestling until the 3rd, I would make him think I was going to strike with him the whole time.
The strategy went perfect and I was able to win most exchanges in the first 2 rounds. He did take me down once and surprise me but I took him down twice in the 3rd with dominant wrestling.
Had it gone to the scorecards it would have been a close fight but ultimately it ended in a draw. I had moved from a nobody to potential UFC contender in that fight in August of 2000.
Click here for more stories.