Part of the start

Smurf Keyring

Part of the start. It links in.

I moved to Manchester and a school in Clayton, East Manchester, from a rural part of Sweden, turning up for my first day at Seymour Rd school with spikey hair, a funny accent, a lisp and a smurf keyring attached to my trousers. Yep.

On the playground it got snapped off by the ‘cock’ of the year above.

Of course it did.

I got upset, we had a school boy fight. I hated school from there on, because it became a running theme. New boy, different to a lot of the others, stuck out for attention for the lads in the years who liked a fight, wouldn’t/couldn’t give in as a matter of principle. I didn’t want it. I wasn’t sure who or what I was supposed to be like. I was athletic, and relished competition. Not a fight though!? I wanted to be alright with everyone, but seemed that if you’re not aggressive, someone wants to fight with you.

I wasn’t bullied, but did hang myself out to dry to a degree.

I wasn’t an angel either, just didn’t get this.

MMA, and importantly the people I’ve met in the sport, helped figure a few things out. Gave me the confidence to be who I wanted, and now the chance to work to be in a position to do what I’m passionate about.

So back to it.

About 4 weeks ago, for about a week, I was in the place it seems isn’t that uncommon in MMA.

The following 2 felt better and better, as has been the case each time for me, thankfully.

The week before, I feel ready. I feel the best I’ve felt in 7 weeks. The last sparring session is a good one. I feel focused and confident. Something I feel I have to work hard at to feel. Putting myself amongst training partners I hold in the highest regard. Heavy sparring sessions are a necessary evil for me. I think it’s an individual thing, and I wouldn’t choose to put myself in with the people I do so often without reason, but it works for me, being forced to be brighter, sharper, fitter and tougher than I’d normally be.

I’ve been training Muay Thai privately 1-2 times per week, working on my conditioning there too. Strength work done on my own, starting with improving strength, moving through to power from weeks 10 to 4, then having to stop so that my weight will come down.

I do the occasional long slow fasted run to utilise body fat, and weekly hot yoga at the yogalife studio in WIlmslow.

Training MMA, wrestling, BJJ, kickboxing and sparring, at Viva and Predators.

Honestly, the two gyms work. There’s coaches with what seems like, endless subject knowledge, experience, integrity, personality and all brought over without any edge at all. Humble can be a word used loosely I feel, as with many others, but being around these people is an amazing refreshing eye opener, every day, and ultimate lessons in life, not just MMA.

There’s no ego, no sensei, no posturing, just class.

Now I’m being asked, ‘are you ready’?

I am, but can’t really let myself be yet because there’s still the weight cut to do.

After weeks of steady but still tough dieting, there’s more to do to get to 70kg;

5 days water loading from (for me), 10 litres Monday to 0.25 on Friday (Saturday weigh in)

Less than 50g of carbs a day for 5 days, coming mainly  from vegetables.

No salt, checking everything I eat to look for any added.

Limited red meat.

A natural laxative.

Epsom salt baths as hot as I can stand them.

Steam rooms, and a finishing sauna.

Then, all going back in the order it comes out.

1 litre of water per hour, 6 with dioralylte added over the next 24 hours spent awake to replace lost fluid and minerals.

Lay in room temperature bath water, the same I’ve cut in (usually, but not this particular fight).

Carbs(sugars) at a 4:1 ratio for my first meal.

Added salt to meals.

5 mg of Creatine mono hydrate added to some meals.

Now I feel more ready.

This time though, my opponent first requests a video weigh in, which was ok by me, but then wants to weigh in at a different weight on the day of the fight. This upsets the whole cut and weighing in process a bit. I don’t think it’s professional at all on his part, but suppose it’s part of the game.

Fight day. Again, as I have done each fight, I wake up happy and excited, which isn’t really me when I think about the fight on the whole over the weeks.

Facebook and text  messages come through. I’m excited and grateful for the support. The pressure I feel most now, is the one of not performing. I really want to perform well, ultimately for me, but also, coaches and training partners, as I feel my performance reflects on the quality of those i’m around the most. Then, for family, friends and any other on lookers. I want them to see what I do, and know why I do.

I’m not the best. I’m not the best in the sport, in my weight division or in sparring sessions.

I’ve got to be the best I can be though. This is the toughest part for me.

I’m in a ‘warm up room’ with around 10 coaches and training partners, a who’s who of who’s quality in person and MMA. The same coaches and training partners I train with and under. This gives me confidence.

After a few unusual interactions from my opponent, I go on edge a bit. I get a bit more nervous, and after hitting pads well, moving light and confidently, I start to feel empty, weak and missing a beat in my step.

I have to slow the warm up down to let my brain catch up. I think to myself  that if I want to be better, then I’ve got to deal with the unexpected.

I come back around after a short while and begin to feel like I should before I go out.

So I do. I walk out to The Gambler. Poignant and favourite of mine and a group of fantastic mates.

I hear the support I have, but look straight ahead always, frightened to get excited or nervous. I feel like everything flatlines. I feel as though I go on auto pilot, completely trusting the past.

The fight goes well, finishing relatively early with an arm triangle.

I feel immense relief, from a very eventful 2014. I do offer to shake hands with my opponent, but not an embrace like I have in every other fight, because I didn’t feel full respect for him, due to a few issues in the build up, but do respect him.

I step out, see my brother, hug him, see my friends and look forward to having a drink and a good night with them, then my Dad. I hug him. He was a sportsman for a living, but still understand it must be hard seeing his son go into such a situation.

I really appreciate everything from everyone that goes into me, and others. I feel it more than anything.

Then, I look forward to spending time socialising with my family and friends.

Then, eating without pressure, then training again within a few days, then heading off to see family in Florida, and taking the opportunity to experience training there and Central America.

My favourite things, good, solid, happy people, travelling, and training..

-Jamie Lester