Have you ever watched a martial arts movie and thought, “That looks like fun, I could totally roundhouse Chuck Norris in the face!”? Or sat with friends on a Saturday night watching mixed martial arts fights and said, “I bet I would knock you out in the first round” to your buddy? Or at the very least thought it would be fun to give it a try? Maybe it’s my adrenaline addiction, or the excitement, or the challenge … or maybe it’s all three, but I found myself thinking some of these thoughts the other night.
Now, I have trained a little bit in some martial arts and MMA over the years but I have no delusions that I am a fighter of the same caliber as these professional mixed martial artists. Luckily, my good friend Eli runs Gravity Fitness in Bettendorf, Iowa, which is home to Militech Fighting Systems (MFS). MFS has produced 15 world champions, so what better place to go find myself a sparring partner? Sparring is where the fighters put on gloves and shin pads and go back and forth like they would in a real fight, but usually not with the intention of actually knocking the other person out or submitting them, thus ending it… usually. So I called up Eli and ran the idea by him and he said he knew just the guy for me to spar with: Zack Micklewright… Hold on Eli, THE Zack Micklewright, like the dude I used to watch fight on TV when he was fighting in World Extreme Cagefighting? Eli: “Yep that Zack.” You see, unlike myself, Zack IS a professional mixed martial artist, and a very good one at that. He is what is known in the industry as a “knockout artist,” with an impressive record of 12 wins and only 2 losses with most of his wins by way of knockout. I am still not really sure why this seemed like a great idea other than I thought it would at least be interesting for my readers to read about me getting beaten up! Eli assured me that we would only “spar at roughly 50%.” It should be noted that my 50% and Zack’s are indeed not equal. At any point in this sparring session, Zack could have ended the fight with a beautiful highlight-reel knockout, but he humored me for the sake of you, my readers. Zack and I agreed on three three-minute rounds of kick-boxing and the rest, well, the rest is history (one that I vaguely remember … man I’m glad we made a video).
When the first round started, I had a plan in my head: stay on the outside and try and shoot in with a few quick punches and kicks and circle away from Zack before he could land too many shots. That plan quickly went out the window as Zack connected with punch after punch. He quickly landed a few body shots that took away any cardio I might have thought I had. I felt those shots in a bad way. Zack then started landing what I can only describe as a laser-guided missile of a leg kick that landed hard on the exact same spot on my right thigh over and over in the first round. It seemed like every time I would swing or land a shot I would pay for it with either a flurry of punches or a crippling leg kick. Right when I thought I would survive to the end of the first, round the bell rang as Zack landed a head kick that dropped me. Well, that sucked. On to round two. I came out in round two determined to move in and out and land more shots. My aggression earned me a round much like the first, except this time I was winded from the start. Zack’s body shots and leg kicks were brutal. I got dropped multiple times in the second round from body punches, leg kicks, and two big head kicks that I partially blocked. There were a few times I wasn’t sure I would be able to get up off the mat. Luckily, my good friends Eli and Brianne and Bryan were there to heckle/encourage me. Thanks guys! The second round was brutal. Going in to the third, I was beaten up and exhausted with three more long minutes to go. During round three, I ate a few hard flurries and then got dropped by a head kick. At this point, my right leg was a mess and every kick to it buckled my leg. I caught a good kick to the mouth that, had it landed clean instead of grazing, would have meant lights out. The body shots had taken their toll and I was exhausted. Zack landed another clean body punch and I was on the mat again. At this point I didn’t think I had the energy to get back up, but I somehow staggered to my feet. We touched gloves and Zack lighted me up with a flurry of shots. Then I ate an uppercut… I only know this because I watched it on the video. My head snapped back and I was dazed, the partially blocked head kick that followed dropped me. Somehow yet again, I crawled back to my feet. At this point I was dazed and exhausted as I ate another flurry of punches that ended with a hard body shot. I hit the mat. This time I was not getting back up; there was nothing left in the tank. I spit out my mouth piece as the bell rang. And it was all over! What’s that Eli? What am I writing, a tragedy? Haha, very funny.
It was a great experience to share the mat with Zack. He is a world class fighter and a really cool dude. Please check out the pictures and video and enjoy!
Thanks to Eli and Gravity Fitness for making it all possible. A special thanks to Zack for taking the time out of his training to spar with me… and for the black eye!
If you are interested in mixed martial arts, I would recommend starting in the beginner’s class where you hit pads that don’t hit back! Gravity Fitness offers a free 3-day trial to anyone interested in the gym, fitness classes, cross fit or MMA classes! Stop in or check out the website here: http://www.gravityqc.com/ or call 563.355.3360 and be sure to mention this article! As always, don’t forget to vote on next month’s adventure where I will either thumb wrestle a kitten or challenge a sparrow to a staring contest… just kidding. But seriously, vote. You know you want to; everyone else is doing it!