Working for the UFC: behind the scenes
When I first met Burt Watson, I was getting set to fight in the UFC TUF Finale. He was all in my face, checking my weight three days in a row before actual weigh ins, telling me not to take pain killers or supplements, making me wear a padded sports bra, and then screaming “We’re rolling!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs walking me out. It stressed me out so bad.
I was a little apprehensive finding out I had to work with him this trip as a translator, but as I met him in different circumstances then before, I found out that Burt is actually a GENIUS MASTERMIND. Oh my goodness! I think no one in the entire world can do a better job than he. He is so amazing. I basically became his apprentice, which is such a huge honor, and came to appreciate his extreme attention to detail to stuff I never knew was an ISSUE because he clipped it in the bud before a problem developed. This has come from over 25 years of doing this job. I dunno what the UFC would do without him.
Amber, me, Yoko Takahashi, Donna, and Burt.
For example, everything was set up in the Hilton Tokyo hotel. We had a conference room as an office, and there were workout rooms on either side of us. He set up tables with water and towls against the walls that we shared. He said he put the tables there because if fighters want to work wall-techniques, they pick up mats and lean them against the walls. If the wall is shared by the office, the staff will be hearing *Thud! Thud! BAM!* all day long. But the table forces the fighters to lean the mats aginst a different wall.
I was like, wow. Good thinking.
Also with dressing room choices. There were a certain number of rooms, different sizes. Some had bathrooms, some didn’t. The Japanese fighters managed by the same manager were all together. We had to make sure the girls had easy access to a lady:s bathroom, and we had to make sure opponents weren’t going through each other’s rooms to get to the bathroom. Burt’s system for figuring all that out was MASTERFUL. I can’t even describe it well. We walked through taking notes, and then looking at the fight card.
I had no idea so much thought went into that. I’m thinking back and realizing that in my Invicta fight, I was together with Tamada and Megumi, and we were both managed by Shu, plus we were all former training partners, so I felt comfortable. I’m sure that’s not a coincidence. And I was with Stephanie Eggink, and her corner was Shayna Baszler, and we’re good friends. Was that a cooincidence, too?
Burt is so amazing. It was truly an honor to work with him and the team. I loved the guys. I wasn’t just his pesonal translator, but I was adopted into the Asian Fighter Relations Team.
I arrived on Sunday but my job started Monday. Our first task, me and five or six others, was to find 300 white towels, three boxes of latex gloves, and 300 or more small bottles of water. Um…okay. So we rented a van and drove to the Don Quixote superstore where I got to talk to the staff in Japanese and aquire the stuff. It was so funny seeing the look on the short skinny staff guy’s face when I told him to go into his storage room and bring up every single box of water bottles from EVER BRAND that they had. Hahahaha!
It wasn’t enough so we emptied the shelves, too! We completely wiped them out of water!! We could only find 35 towels, so we ended up buying some online.
I helped organize gloves, and put wrist bands on people and watch Burt size people for gloves, etc.
Some of the bad parts were that I had to follow up on fighters when I didn’t really want to. For example, if a fighter was late to some scheduled thing, I had to call their room and politely ask them to get their butts down here. I frequently had to go to their personal cell phone or manager because nobody answered the room phone. A few times, there was plenty of time left before the schedule thing ended, but our team wanted them done with early, so we could do a lot of other tasks. As a fighter, I didn’t want to bother them, but I was ordred to, so I had to call them and beg them to come early.
Another time I had to ask a fighter to take a pee drug test, but they had just lost and were crying. I didn’t want to bother them, but my bosses were like, “No, you have to go ask the person NOW.” I got snapped at by the fighter’s camp. OF COURSE. If I was upset after having JUST lost in the UFC, I would be like, go screw yourself, too! -.-
I got to be one of the people that stood behind the scenes and weighins and when their name was called, I said, Okay go out there! One of my teammates was teaching me about what to do on fight day. My teammates were so nice and patient!! <3 If I was assigned to a room, I'd have to make sure everyone had enough water and towels and ice, and nobody was eating in the lockerroom. He was telling me about how to walk someone to the cage, but I was thinking, "There's no way in hell I'm walking anyone to the cage! I don't know where to go! when I fight, I always follow someone. I'm not ready to be 'that guy.'" lol I didnt have to, though. I got to be there to support my former teammates and that was super cool. (Michinori Tanaka and Masanori Kanehara) Kanehara-san won! Poor Noripi lost a tough match but I think he got performance bonus?
All in all, I learned SO much about how the UFC works. The Fighter Relations team had to be the sticky glue that holds other departments together (media, production, etc) but also lubricant that lets the gears turn smoothly and gets fighters to where they need to be. There’s SO many details and SO much stuff to manage. …Details