By: Ulysses Gomez
So I was going to make this a three-part series but this blog is longer than I expected so I’m going to have to make this a four-part series. In this blog I’ll talk about what I did on the day of the fight and in the fight in general. In the fourth blog I’ll talk about what happened after the fight, handling the loss, getting released by the UFC and what my plans are for the future.
I woke up pretty early this morning, right around 7:30 a.m. I thought that I was going to be able to get a good night’s sleep but I didn’t. Well I slept for about eight hours, but it felt like my mind was up most of the night, thinking, no not thinking, more like racing.
I remember having random thoughts during my sleep, and of course a few times I dreamt about my fight. I don’t exactly remember what I dreamt about regarding my fight but I know that I had a few dreams about my fight.
Anyways I woke up and headed to breakfast with Gil and Dave. We ate at the hotel and I had my breakfast bowl, the same breakfast that I’ve had all week. After breakfast I headed back to my hotel room to hang out and rest my body.
It’s a very weird feeling knowing that you are going to get in a fight today. No, scratch that, it’s a very scary feeling knowing that you are going to walk into a cage half-naked to beat up or get beat up by another half-naked guy in front of 16,000 people — not counting the hundreds of thousands of people watching online and on TV.
The reason why it’s scary is not because you can get hurt, I mean let’s be honest in this sport the whole premises is to hurt your opponent and you know that you are going to get hurt in the process as well.
I’m totally comfortable with that aspect of the fight, I know that this is a hurt business and I plan on hurting Phil and he plans on hurting me. I don’t have to hate him to hurt him; this is my job so I can emotionally detach myself from that aspect of the game.
What I can’t emotionally detach myself from and what scares me the most about tonight is the possibly of having to admit that another man/fighter is better than me. This is the ultimate sport, it’s not a team sport so you don’t have anyone to blame if you lose, all the blame is squarely on your shoulders.
On top of that if this was a sport like golf or tennis you could always tell yourself that regardless of the outcome you could have “whooped” him if it came down to it. That isn’t the case with this sport, the whole idea of this sport is to beat your opponent and ultimately prove who the better man is.
Maybe it’s machismo and what not but I find it very difficult to accept that someone is better than me. Even now when people find out I fight and they ask me my record I hate having to tell them 9-3. I mean, I’m more embarrassed about my three losses than I am proud about my nine wins. I hate having to admit that three fighters were better than me instead of boasting how I conquered nine of my opponents.
I hung out in my room for most of the morning, just listening to podcasts and telling jokes and talking with Gil and Dave. Every fighter is different, some fighters like to be alone the day of the fight and others like to have people around them. I go through cycles, sometimes I like to be myself with my thoughts and at other times my thoughts scare me so I like to be around people so I don’t have to think about them.
Thoughts like losing go through every fighters mind, I think it’s natural. I think it’s more natural after you’ve lost before than it is when you’re undefeated. When you’re undefeated you can’t think of anyone beating you, but once you’ve lost you realize you have a chink in your armor that was exposed and can be exposed again.
You’re not invincible anymore. You try not to think about the fight but the more you try not to think about it the more you end up thinking about it. The only thing that helps is motion, “Motion creates Emotion” and I end up doing a light stretch in my room. I don’t know why, but that helps calm my nerves. After my stretch I take a quick shower and get my things ready to head to the venue.
We arrive to the venue a little bit after 3:15, so roughly two hours before I have to step into the cage. I do my drug test real fast than head back to my locker room to get my hands wrapped. After getting my hands wrapped I just hang out and listen to music with my team until it’s time for Gil to tell me to warm up.
All day you have little moments where you question yourself, “Am I ready? Did I train hard enough? I’m a fully recovered?” All those thoughts go through your head, but once I start to warm up they immediately go away.After the first five minutes of warming up you realize that you are ready and that there is nothing that Phil will do/throw that you haven’t already seen. First round of the warming up is done and you feel a little tired but as the second round starts you feel ready.
Second round of warming up is just as intense as the first and you can’t wait for the third round. The more rounds I get in my warm up the more comfortable I feel and the more I realize that this is my time.
I am ready! Burt Watson tells us is its show time. He walks us out to the curtain and you have to wait a minute before they queue your music and it’s time to walk out. Even though it’s only a minute it feels like forever.
While I’m waiting for my music I remind myself that I put in 10 weeks of hard training. Hundreds of hours spent in the gym all for less than 15 minutes. You could have been perfect your whole camp, trained right, kept the perfect diet, but it doesn’t matter. All that matters now is these next 15 minutes. You have to be perfect now!
My music starts and it’s time to walk out to the cage. Walking to the cage and getting announced to fight feels like forever when you’re watching on TV but that’s not the case when it’s you doing the walking. By the time you walk out, take you clothes off, get greased up and get announced to fight it feels like a blink of an eye.
It’s kind of ironic that waiting to walkout feels like forever but the whole fight goes by so fast. I remind myself that no matter what, if the fight lasts one minute or 15 minutes it will be over before I know it so enjoy it while I can.
The fight starts and I immediately go to the game plan that Gil gave me for this fight. Keep proper distance and use my leg kicks to slow him down. Phil is heavy on his lead leg so the plan was to attack it with my leg kicks.
Because the way Phil has his stance it would make it difficult for him to check my kicks so it would allow me time to throw my leg kick and move before he countered. I threw an inside leg kick and it hit him in the groin, not very hard but still in the groin none the less.
I hadn’t figured out my range yet so I went to pawing with my jab. It didn’t take me very long to figure out my range from here on out. Once I got my range I started to attack his lead leg. Inside legs kicks, a few outside legs kicks mixed in there as well.
I threw a jab followed by an inside leg kick as we walked in and hit him in the nuts again. Wasn’t my fault since he walked into it but regardless that was the second low blow of the fight so the ref warned me. From here I abandoned my inside leg kick. I didn’t want to throw another one and hit him low and get a point taken away.
I went to throwing outside leg kicks and he caught one of them and put me on my back, from here he hit me with two punches but nothing really hard or anything. He didn’t want to go in my guard so he let me up, probably the smart thing to do since I’m known as a submission guy.
For the rest of the round I used my jab and outside leg kick to keep him at a good distance. I threw a few inside leg kicks as well to keep him honest but I was still leery throwing them since I didn’t want to hit him low again.
At the very end of the round I shot in and he went for a hip throw, as we landed I came on top. I felt that I won that round hands down. I headed back to my corner and they told me the same thing, they also told me to look for the knee since he was open for it.
The second round starts and I got back to my original game plan, attack his lead leg. I started to add a little bit more punches this time around instead of just using my jab. I would throw my jab, left hook, outside leg kick or I would throw my jab, inside leg kick followed by a right hand.
Phil also added a few things this round also, he started to attack my legs as well with his own leg kicks. He hit me with a few good leg kicks but his best punch by far was a straight right to my body. He hit me pretty flush with it and it hurt. Ha-ha I was glad that I didn’t over eat this morning or I might have had an accident in the middle of the cage.
We traded a few punches but nothing really significant from either guy. I shot in but he defended the takedown. For the most part I did good job in keeping my distance and not allowing him to back me into the corner/cage.
Towards the end of the round I felt that he was doing a good job in catching my outside leg kick so I faked a leg kick and caught him with a flying knee. The round ended and when I headed back to my corner they told me that I was up 2-0.
The third round started and I did a better job in backing him up this round. Gil told me between rounds that he was going to yell “takedown” but he didn’t want me to take him down, he wanted me to throw combinations when he yelled that.
Every time I heard Gil yell that I would lower my level then throw a double jab or a jab followed by a left hook. Since Phil was doing a good job in timing my outside leg kick I started to mix in flying knees and front kicks as well.Phil ended up catching me with a left hook that cut my cheek open in the middle of the round, I didn’t feel it land so I don’t know if that was because of my adrenaline or it was a glancing blow and I got caught with the seam of the glove, I wasn’t sure.
Anyways Phil started to come forward more so I kept pumping my jab and using my footwork to make sure that I wasn’t against the cage. I ended up throwing a leg kick and he caught it while I was off balance and I fell on my butt but I got back up pretty quick.
The last minute of the fight Phil did a good job in keeping the pressure on me and he started to land a little bit more with his punches. The round ended with both of us on our feet and I felt that he won that round.
As the round ended I walked back to my corner and the crowd gave Phil and I a good round of applause. That felt pretty good considering the fact I didn’t get the best reception walking into the cage. I walked to my corner and Gil told me I won the fight two rounds to one.
The cut man checked my cut but it wasn’t anything too serious to worry about. The fight lasted 15 minutes and it felt like it lasted 15 seconds. Now I had to wait for the official decision which probably only took two minutes to get but it felt like two hours. I couldn’t wait to officially get my first UFC win.
They read the score cards, 30-27 was the first score and I remember thinking that I couldn’t believe one judge gave me all three rounds. The second score was 29-28 and I remember thinking “that seems more right.” And finally another score for 30-27, “hmm okay I won 3-0 again” and the winner by unanimous decision ……..Phil Harris…..?
Now check out Part 4: Ulysses Gomez: My journey to UFC on Fuel TV 7 in London and beyond – Part 4
In case you missed Part 1: Ulysses Gomez: My Journey to UFC on Fuel TV 7 in London and Beyond – Part 1
In case you missed Part 2: Ulysses Gomez: My Journey to UFC on Fuel TV 7 in London and Beyond – Part 2