Hopscotch across the country – UFC 238, trained w/ my fav fighter, family

My cousin Adele has a remarkable story. She had various health problems for a long time. She had overcome a lot already before she was diagnosed with breast cancer (which runs rampant in the family) and I really respect her for her strength in fighting it. I feel so bad for the hand she was dealt in life! The day she found out about her cancer, she found out she was pregnant! Despite simultaneous chemo, she had a beautiful healthy baby boy! She beat the cancer for a while. Then it came back.

The year 2012, with Adele

I feel like we are all in rowboats paddling down a river. We can’t see too far ahead because the river bends and winds. We often get jostled, and water gets in our boat. Eventually everybody’s boat gets holes and sinks, but until then, we have to just keep paddling and doing our best. The river has no mercy. The river stops for no one. Adele kept getting thrown from her boat, but kept climbing back in.

Her boat finally sank a week ago. She had just turned 40 years old. Adele was such a kind woman who did a lot for people in this world. She was a devout Christian who volunteered at her church. I once had the honor of helping her at a food pantry. She was a Physician Assistant and took care of sick people. My aunt and other cousin Alison told me that the turnout at the funeral and wake was overwhelming. <3

At one point during a conversation with Tino (her son), Cousin Alison said, “Seven was your mom’s favorite number!” Tino, with a smile, playfully climbing on her lap, said, “Mommy’s in Heaven!”

That’s a great way to explain it to kids, but it still broke my heart. It was rough, but I’m glad I went back to NJ and could support my family.

Tino loves playing the piano, just like his mother did, and grandmother
Cousin Alison, Francisco, Pia-Rose

I enjoyed spending time with Alison, her hubby and Kempo Master (literally) Francisco Vigouroux, and the adorable Pia-Rose. I’m glad that my fight wasn’t imminent, so I could attend without stressing too much about training, although I did calisthenics in the park near my aunt’s house, and I also visited Silver Fox Jiujitsu Academy, a Renzo Gracie association. I really enjoyed that training session. The teacher was Enrique Galarza. He seemed young (25 actually!) but was super knowledgeable. I learned some great, essential details in the fundamental class!

It was my dream to someday train with Matt Serra. He’s my favorite fighter, and was on the first UFC card I ever watched back in the year 2001! I’ve met him before and was so excited, and star-struck. 😀 His gym is about an hour and a half drive from my aunt’s house, which is doable, but I figured that I’d rather spend that time with my family, so I chose Silverfox, which was only about 20 minutes away. Some day….. *dream*

I stayed in New Jersey Wednesday and Thursday. Early Friday morning I got up before the crack of dawn and flew to Chicago to support and corner JoJo for her fight on UFC 238.

I took a 6 AM flight and arrived around 8 AM. JoJo had just successfully weighed in. I was heading up to her hotel room when I ran into Matt Serra in the hotel lobby. Apparently one if his guys was fighting.

OMG! He’s here! I’m sure he’d be too busy to train. He’s busy with his fighter. What if he’s not? What if he’s just sitting in his hotel room bored? What if he’d be happy to give me a private lesson in the work out room? Did he have his gi? I have my gi. Always bring your gi. Jiujitsu people understand me. I shouldn’t bother him……

I instagram-messaged him, politely inquiring if maybe at some point over the next few days, if he had an hour could he consider giving me a lesson? What was his lesson rate….but I didn’t want to bother him….

He wrote back, SURE, how about IN AN HOUR?!?

What?! NOW?!? COOL

He taught me a few things and we rolled a lot. I’m so so grateful for your time, Matt. I’ve been a fan for so long. It was such an honor! We share a love of BJJ, also Star Wars and geeky things.

I was so happy! 😀

Later on I did Lorenzo’s strength training assignment in the fitness center, so I got good training that day.

JoJo looked great! She seemed ready and excited for her fight against Katlyn Chookagian on Saturday. Her mom came in and we hung out, and also went to a fancy steak restaurant that evening. I was so excited for JoJo. She looked really sharp.

She was the first fight on the card, so our report time was early – 2:30, for a 5:30 start time. On Saturday, I woke up and did my normal jogging with sprints, yoga, stairs, and random weight-training. Before we knew it, it was fight time.

I helped her warm up, in addition to her hitting pads with John.

JoJo fought so hard and so well. I was actually impressed that Katlyn had a better performance than her last fight. However, I still think JoJo won. She landed more strikes. It was certainly a close one, though, and unfortunately, the judges gave it to Katlyn. What a bummer! 🙁 Man….

We left the arena early and went back to the hotel to watch the fights on the hotel TV. I went to bed early, so I could wake up at 4 AM to catch the 5 AM shuttle bus to the airport. I got back to Vegas in the mid-morning and spent Sunday doing chores, yoga, and wrapping up lose ends on various things.

Sometimes you can do everything right and still lose a fight. The fight game is harsh and merciless. I feel so bad for JoJo because I felt like she had a great camp, was ready, strong, out-struck her opponent, AND took her down.

What do I know, though?

Well, I’m looking forward to getting back to my normal routine.

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