I’ve never been the best at doing any one thing. However, I learned since childhood that if I prepared well, I could do many hard things. That’s why I got good grades in school. I studied hard and started projects well in advance – I never procrastinated. One of my father’s mottos is, “Do it. Do it now! NEXT!” I remember him jokingly almost shouting this advice in a booming voice in reply to a question one day of whether I should do the thing now or later. It stuck with me. “JUST DO IT NOW!” I could always summon his voice when I needed motivation to not procrastinate on something.
You guys should have seen how well-prepared I was for this event… you might even say over prepared, but I ended up utilizing every single iota of preparation.
I was worried about the long 20-hour trip with three flights, getting food without sodium on the trip, and water retention effecting my weight cut. I interviewed about five different friends and teammates who’ve fought or cornered in Russia or in a foreign country and got their opinions and advice. Cory Hendricks said he packed little baggies of meat and veggies, so that’s exactly what I did. I have a cloth insulated lunch box so I boiled plain, bland chicken breast and put them in baggies, next to ice cubes in baggies. It melted slowly but lasted almost the entire trip! I also brought raw carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.
Heather (Jo Clark) sold me on the benefit of bringing a mini hot plate and pan to cook my meat in the hotel so I wouldn’t have to worry about communicating in Russian, which I happen to NOT speak. For my weight cut, I water load and salt cut, so I’m not allowed to have sodium in my food starting the Monday leading up to my weigh-in on Friday.
It was a real challenge to find a small, light-weight single burner hot electric hot plate. I looked in Walmart, online and finally found the perfect one at Fry’s Electronics in Vegas! I got a six dollar mini pot at Walmart. I also bought the smallest, light-weight scale I could find, so I could wake up and weigh myself in my hotel room. I brought a mini-wheely suitcase that I thought would be easy to handle and checked it with those items.
Going back to the language thing, I felt I needed to communicate just in case, so I studied the Cryllic alphabet – the Russian characters. THEY ARE SO COOL, btw. Well, I’m a linguist, so although my task was daunting, I told myself, “Roxy, if any fighter was going to learn the foreign language of the country they were going to, it’s YOU. You have a college degree in linguistics.” lol I memorized about 80% of the symbols and still forgot some here and there just because …well, I could have made more of an effort I suppose, but I’ve been SO busy with other prep and training and stuff. I prepared a paper with phrases written phonetically and in cryllic. I got my Ukranian friend G to teach me some things and I practiced my pronunciation.
I took my sheet in to Syndicate and practiced on the mother of my one of my students, who is Russian and doesn’t speak English. She complimented my pronunciation. I had a hard time memorizing long sentences but I remembered how to say “spaiceba Sanct peterburg! Spaiceba” in the Octagon (Thank you, St. Petersburg!”) at least. I also remembered ‘Sol!” when tying to buy salt in the grocery store, and various other things. Oh, reading stuff on signs and on menus, I could see something was the exit, the elevator, female vs male, St. Petersburg, hotel, etc. 😀 I could read most loaner words. (like toilet, it was pronounced “toy-lett”) kind of.
I wrote down a bunch of conversions for the money rubles so I could easily whip it out and know how much things cost.
I found out what Reebok clothes I would receive in Russia so I only needed to pack certain items from home, minimizing the amount of clothing I’d have to lug. I bought an electrical outlet converter for European plugs. I bought six one-pound bags of Epsom salt to cut weight and distributed them through my luggage, just in case we couldn’t purchase any in Russia. I know that Japan doesn’t really sell Epsom salt, and I needed it for weight cut. Guess what. THEY DIDN’T. So good thing I bought some! (And got Mike to carry a few.)
I found coverage for teaching my kids class by speaking to Serena and Bethany, and also writing down the schedule and giving it to the front desk people at Syndicate. I heard everything went smoothly.
TRAINING preparation was right on point, as well! Both my coaches John and Mike were saying that literally everything we trained, I ended up doing at one point in the fight. We worked a lot of splits (she throws a straight or jab, and I slip my head to one side so her punch flies past my head, while my punch goes to the other side), split shots, movement to not stand directly in front of her, what to do if she clinches, body locks, single- and double leg take-downs out in the open, take-downs off the cage, cage wrestling, passing half guard, sweeps from guard, ground and pound from top, trapping the bottom leg once I have them against the cage, head pressure against the cage, blocking her snap kicks to my face, etc!! Everything we thought she’d do she did, and I was ready for it.
I rewatched the fight against last night. As always, my perception and the reality were different. I felt I was winning the whole fight, but it looked a lot closer from the outside. I think that’s because her punches didn’t stop me. They were REALLY strong when they nailed me, but they didn’t rock me, so I just kept marching forward. I got the take-downs and dominated positions on the ground, on the cage, and also had good cage control. I momentarily freaked out when I heard it going to split decision, but glad I got the nod. I’m glad I didn’t settle in the last thirty seconds of the fight. I considered just stalling out, holding her on the cage. In the sports world, if I could keep her there and she didn’t land a freak knee and KO me, I would probably win, I thought. Then the warrior part of me thought, “If you lose a decision and realized that you could have put one more bit of effort into a take-down here to win you the fight, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life. ALWAYS SPRINT TO THE FINISH-LINE!” So I did that, and got her down in the last few seconds.
It was a great fight! I felt a little sloppy on my feet at times, but it didn’t look it at all, I think. I think it’s cuz what I threw didn’t land completely sometimes, but then again, as Serena reminded me, she’s a multi-time muay thai champion. I would never compete at Muay Thai… this is why I do MIXED martial arts. I’m really pleased with my performance.
So Mike Pyle, my grappling coach, and I left Vegas on Monday morning. We flew to Detroit, then flew to Paris, THEN flew to Russia, arriving Tuesday afternoon. There was some computer error in Paris at the gate and they almost didn’t let me get on the plane! I started freaking out cuz everybody had boarded and the plane was waiting. “Sorry, the computer is not accepting your visa,” the French attendant was saying. WHAAAAT?! It’s legit, I swear! She got on the phone with her boss. omg. Finally they used another computer and it worked. Thank goodness!
The hotel was legit! Beautiful rooms, amazing underground workout labyrinth, underground spa with like 5 pools, 5 different kinds of hot tubs of different temperatures, all for free! The restaurant wasn’t expensive. It was crazy how good it was! It was almost like a vacation! I thought I was going to spend a ton of money but I think I only spent $500. (For comparison, I spent around $900 on my New York trip just with eating out and paying for me and my two coaches for 4 days at New York restaurants, plus purchasing supplies.) The UFC gives us per diem food money, and it totally covered all my expenses this time! YAY! #frugality
My whole experience was one of a life-time! I’m so glad I was able to go and come home with the win, first and foremost. The support I got from my team, fans, and friends has been amazing, as always! Thanks to everyone who donated to my camp by sending me stuff from my amazon wish list, and for those who sent me their energy across the globe for me to use in my fight!
People in the stadium cheered for Shevchenko, but that’s okay, they’re supposed to, since she’s the home-town girl. She got extra media and open workouts and all, but again, makes sense.
My weigh-ins were cool. OKAY, so I ordered a silver wig but it came all flat!
The picture was false advertising! I tried to buy hair glue and style it myself, but failed miserably, so I couldn’t take it to the next level. Luckily, blue was powered up enough! I hadn’t been able to prove my victory last time, so this is perfect!
So I was determined to learn from failures of the past. When I fought in Cage Warriors in London in 2010 (whoa that’s 8 years ago) I went sightseeing all day for like two days, and then cut weight, and then fought. I was soooooo exhausted. On Wednesday I told myself three hours MAX, and planned a walking tour. John was en route so it was just Mike and I! I enjoyed our time together seeing cool things!
First we taxied to the Kazan Cathedral and the cute taxi driver didn’t charge me because he recognized me! He just wanted a pictured! Thank you, Sir. I can’t really pronounce your name! 😀
It was soooo beautiful! We weren’t supposed to take pictures, so I did only a few stealthy ones sparingly. I learned that the flash damages old paintings over time, and I didn’t want to be rude, but everybody else was taking pics. It was built prior to the war with Nepolean and became an original memorial to that event. The unique icon of “Our Lady Kazan” is kept there, and a famous Russian commander in chief is burried there.
We walked past the House of Books, a bunch of museums, and came to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Beautiful colorful building!
Then Mike and I had a ten minute conversation about which way to go, but ended up finding The Hermitage, Dvortsovaya Square in Palace Square.
We also stopped in a few gift shops on the way. It had taken us about 2 hours and 45 minutes to see this stuff, and we got a taxi (which ripped me off!) taking us back to the hotel in three hours. BAM, good timing, good preparation! If there’s one thing I boast of it’s my ability to estimate time and make plans come together. 🙂 We saw everything on my list and more along the way! 😀
Then I had media day!
My weight cut was not fun and easy, but my coaches said I made it look easy with my good preparation. The weight came off when I needed it to, and I weighed in and rehydrated, so I felt great to fight the next day.
My strength trainer Lorenzo Pavlica had put me on a strength and power program since my last fight ended in November, until a month or so before my fight, when I switched to endurance. I think it’s finally showing! I’m not a natural athlete by any means, but I think for the first time in my life, I look more muscular than my opponent. I’ve never really cared about looks at all. I only look in the mirror if I have something in my eye, and don’t flex too show off much. I know Serena tells me all the time, “If you work hard for it, show it off!” This is why we have friends to remind us of these things, so I’m gonna allow myself to give myself credit for all my hard work. I dislike physical training, but I dedicate myself to it hardcore every week, and I love Lorenzo. btw the fight announcers said something about me training at the UFC Performance Institute and that annoyed me, because I have never said that. They won’t let Lorenzo train me there (being an outside trainer), so I’m not going to train there. I’m very loyal to him.
Her kicks were beautiful! None of them hurt me, though. Well, that ONE thigh kick…I’m still feeling that sucker.
A few breezed by my face, but my movement, distancing, or blocking nullified that. John was throwing them in our mitt sessions, and I got JoJo to in sparring, as well. Now her punches hurt, bouncing off my forehead, but nothing rocked me. I thought I was outside her range a few times, and then BAM. I need more head movement, I guess! I thought I was. But it’s funny how I can’t move the same in a fight as I do in training simply because I’m not as relaxed. Plus kickboxing IS her world, being a multi-time Muay Thai Champion. She better be able to hit me, honestly. Just like I better be able to hold her down and get mount, since I’ve been training jiujitsu as long as she’s been doing kickboxing. That’s what made this an interesting fight! I am a complete mixed martial artist.
It was such a relief to get the win. Not only did I accomplish my goals as a martial artist, which are to grow and do techniques in the fight that I’ve been training to do, but I secured myself a spot in the UFC rankings, and more fights in the UFC! It’s my dream to fight in the UFC! I’m literally living my dream! And it wasn’t handed to me. I fought, struggled, cried, sweat, and bled so hard for 15 years to get here. I have little natural talent.
I can’t thank my trainers and team enough for helping me reach my goals. John Wood is the best MMA coach in the world. Mike Pyle’s grappling instruction is incredible and has upped my game. (shoutout to Rene and Taylor and Evan at Dunham’s jiujitsu as well) John’s wrestling for MMA is top notch. I can’t get a better strength and conditioning coach in Lorenzo. And TEAM SYNDICATE!!!! All the training partners who sparring with me and stood southpaw for me, thank you! Adam “The Smiling Assassin” Cook visiting from Tasmania who took time out of his schedule to help me with private sessions and help me teach my kids classes so I could rest, thank you! All the men and women of team Syndicate, Mama Wood behind the scenes, thank you! Teri Wallace, the best massage therapist in the world, THANK YOU for keeping me pain-free! My quality of life and training is amazing thanks to you!
‘Merica! *insert eagle screeching*
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