In an effort to increase the interactiveness of the site for our readers, we will be running a “From the Trenches” story from a member of the Potato Nation every week. If you have a story to share about a fight you had, a douchebag you met who claimed to be a fighter or an experience you had meeting a real fighter — anything you think your CP brethren would like to read about, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we use your tale, we’ll send you a devil horns shirt so you can rep us at the office, your niece’s Christening or your grandmother’s funeral.
I have been a correctional officer for five years now, and it would be an understatement to say that I’ve seen some crazy shit.
The institution I work at, which shall remain nameless, specializes in mental health. Think half psych-ward, half prison. There are inmates and patients who eat their shit, throw their shit, and smear their shit. Once an inmate shoved a pencil in his pee hole and about half way down the shaft, poked it out through the top and ripped it out, slitting his unit up the middle so it looked like a micro-waved hot dog. There is a patient who, every month or so will bash his head on the wall to get Satan to stop talking to him. His forehead looks like that old In Living Color skit where the family had asses on their heads… and they couldn’t figure out where the whistling was coming from on the roller coaster…. You don’t remember that one? Trust me it happened. So yeah like I said, crazy shit.
For every nut job, there are roughly 7.8 inmates who are just plain stupid. Now before any ex-cons out there get all over my case about stereotyping, I’m not saying everyone who is in, or has been in prison is stupid. I’m just saying there is a reoccurring theme of a lack of common sense that a lot of them share.
Anyway, the subject of MMA will come up from time to time if someone comes up to my desk and sees me reading a magazine or reading the live round by round updates on Cage Potato since I work every weekend. The conversation usually starts the same but can take two very different paths. They ask it I like UFC, I say “yes” but never tell them that I used to fight, because then I’d just be ,“That fighter C.O.” and I’d have a target on my back. The inmate, obviously behind on current standings, will ask about who the champs are, and who’s fighting whom. Most of the time they know somebody who fights on the local circuit, and a lot of times I know said person as well, so we talk about that. This is the point, however, where a normal conversation can take a drastic turn to the absurd. In an attempt to either intimidate or impress me, around one in every five of these jokers has to take it to the next level and tell me that they, “used to do UFC.” This phrase instantly sets off any educated fan’s bullshit detector. If he isn’t savvy enough to call it mixed martial arts, the odds are he has never stepped foot in the cage.
In my time in this profession I have seen a handful of legit fighters come through the doors, including a UFC vet, a few guys I knew from the local circuit — even a past opponent. Do you know what they all had in common? None of them went around bragging about being fighters! Doing so would put a pretty sizeable target on their backs, even more so than it would to me if I let it slip that I used to fight. Hell, I dropped a decision to the aforementioned former opponent, which would be the ultimate bragging right for most inmates, but he never mentioned it.
So what do I do in this situation? Do I immediately call bullshit? Shit no! Where’s the fun in that? I do what I’m pretty sure most of you would do in the same situation: I ask questions and see just how far they will dig that hole until they realize I’m just messing with them. I’ll ask them where they train, what their records are, and what shows they’ve fought on — the basic stuff. The crazy thing is none of these guys have ever lost!!
I’ll ask if they like to stand and bang or if they prefer the ground game, and to my surprise, they are all knockout artists. Knockout artists who are shockingly utterly unfamiliar with boxing and muay thai techniques and terminology. The last guy I had one of these conversations with told me that his favorite move was, and I quote, “the one where you grab the guy’s head and put your knee in his face,” also known as, the thai clinch. Talking to him made me miss talking to the dude who talks to Satan. I shouldn’t have been surprised; the same guy once told me that he had football and basketball scholarships to LSU that he would have taken if he hadn’t gotten locked up. Tough break for LSU. Maybe he would have been the difference against Bama.
So, are the baddest men on the planet behind bars? I’m going to have to go with no. No need to stop watching all the big boys and start YouTubing prison fights. Although I do recommend it if you’re bored. I’m sure we’ve all had someone tell us that they’re a fighter, only to have no clue what they are talking about when pressed about the finer details of the sport. I say have fun with it. Ask questions and make them think you are buying every word they say, then tell all your friends what a tool the guy is, or, if you’re at a party or a bar, make a game out of cock-blocking the shit out of him all night. With the inmates, I like to walk by their cells later on and tell their cellmates (who are usually much bigger than they are), “Don’t mess with this guy; he’s one of those UFC guys.” You should see the look on the “UFC guys’” faces… priceless. I’ve only gotten one guy raped so far, so that’s not too bad.
That’s a joke. Nobody was raped. Although there may have been some consensual finger play.