(Photos courtesy of Chi-town MMAniacs)
If you missed part 1 of “The Travel Chronicles,” click here to catch up.
By Elias Cepeda
I remember asking longtime heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko a question about his pre-fight routine once on a conference call. I’d heard rumors from people that had been around him backstage before fights that he didn’t warm up, but instead went from playing cards with his team to standing up and walking out to the ring to fight, cold.
If he didn’t warm up intensely before fighting this would have been further evidence of Fedor’s otherworldly talent. Getting one’s muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons (to say nothing of one’s mind) warmed up before fighting by doing drills with your coaches that simulate fighting is considered the essential final preparation to competing.
It may seem strange to the uninitiated, but fighters ideally want to walk into the cage or ring already sweating so that they don’t start slowly or get injured from suddenly exerting themselves during the fight. When I posed the question to Fedor he chuckled before humbly demurring, as he often does.
No, it wasn’t quite like that, he said. He had to warm up like everyone else. Still, he didn’t offer specifics, and the people I knew still swore they didn’t see him do so much as a jumping jack before walking out and demolishing an opponent in total calm.
My coaches Said Hatim and Lyndon Viteri were taking no chances that I’d be capable of doing anything like Fedor, so they set to warm me up vigorously before my fight. I had just accepted a last-minute change of opponents about a half-hour before I was set to walk out to the United Combat League cage late last May.
I grappled with my cousin and teammate Gerardo, practicing moving from a front head lock to taking his back because Lyndon was sure that he would shoot in on me for a takedown. Said held Thai pads for me so that I could work my own jab-cross combo as well as countering his lead left jab.
I began to sweat and feel tired. But fatigue during warm-ups, even during the beginning of fights themselves, is a deception.