Welcome to the fourth episode of Keyboard to the Cage: A journalist’s journey to pro MMA! This video series will document my journey through a fight camp in preparation for my professional MMA debut at SFL 42 on January 31, 2020.
Episode 1 explored exactly what I’m doing here, and also introduced my coaches and teammates. In Episode 2, I went and supported some of my guys as they had some MMA matches of their own, and captured some of what goes on behind the scenes. For Episode 3, I got in some sparring rounds, endured some hellacious pad work, and also discuss with my teammates some of the common fears associated with getting into a fight. Episode 4 saw me run through the ample distractions I’m facing, and how words of wisdom from Dustin Poirier helps me combat them.
In this video, it’s fight week! Watch me get in some solid ground and pound work, discuss weight cutting with 6-0 undefeated amateur MMA fighter, Craig Jason Willingham, and then hit the weigh-ins to step on the scale.
Online gambling site BetOnline.AG has betting lines for my SFL 42 fight. I started out as a -260 betting favorite, before dropping as low as -180. My line has puffed back up to -260 since then. As for my opponent, Will Holtzclaw, his moneyline began with an underdog tag of +200. It fell to the +150 mark before rebounding to its initial offering.
I want a deeper appreciation for both the sport I love to cover so much, and the athletes that risk their lives for their dreams. It’s easy to sit here and critique and ridicule fighters for bad performances or lapses in fight judgement. I believe competing in an MMA bout myself will give me a better understanding of what they have to go through, both in preparation and inside the arena. I gained a little bit of insight in December of 2019 when I traveled to Thailand to train at Tiger Muay Thai and compete in a pro Muay Thai bout out there. It was truly eye opening, but striking is just one facet of MMA. I feel like I need to get a mixed martial arts fight under my belt to curb my curiosity.
Another important ‘why’ for me is that I never want to live with the regret of never trying, or sitting in a rocking chair when I’m 80 years old saying I could have, I should have, or I would have. I want to look back and say I did that. Tomorrow is never promised. This is a fact. I want to do my best to live life to the fullest, and what better way than knucking in a cage? If I happen to inspire at least one person to pursue their dreams in the process, well then it’ll be totally worth it.
Also, I have a lot of little tiny humans looking up to me in the form of six nieces and two nephews. I want to prove to them that anything is possible if you drop the excuses, silence the fears, and put forth your best efforts. It’s easy to be afraid of failure, but easy doesn’t equate to fulfillment. The truth is, I’m just a regular dude without any special talents. The good news is that you don’t need talent to work hard or have an unwavering passion. I want to be proof of that. Inspiring humans is my ‘why.’
- Eddie Mercado (0-0-0) vs. Will Holtzclaw (0-0-0): Middleweight
- Three five-minute rounds
- SFL 42 on January 31, 2020 in Norfolk, Virginia
- Jiu-Jitsu with Diego Bispo – 6x world black belt champion
- Muay Thai with Harvey Grasse – Duke Roufus product
- Wrestling with Seldon Wright – Old Dominion University product
- Strength & conditioning with Andrew Delcarmen – Certified monster
- The video series can be seen on Bloody Elbow in article form, along with their and MMA Mania’s Facebook page.
- The fight itself will be available on fite.tv in PPV form. Click the link to purchase. If you happen to be in Norfolk, Virginia on January 31, 2020 then you can come watch live at the Chartway Arena across from Old Dominion University.
Main card: (Pro)
Mitch Aguiar vs. Mumia Abu Deyali: Welterweight
Kedrick Harris vs. Kaine Tomlinson Sr: Welterweight
Thomas Blair vs. Elias Briley: Featherweight
Alan Stephenson vs. Sam Eure: 165 pounds
Ryan Parker vs. Ricky Thompson: 190 pounds
Eddie Mercado vs. William Holtzclaw: Middleweight
Evan Stephens vs. Zion Tomlinson: Light Heavyweight title
Pierre Ba vs. Matt Hicks: Bantamweight title
Adrian Soto-Perez vs. Joseph Huggins: Lightweight title
Justin Spyres vs. Brandon Eldridge: Welterweight title
Alistair Patterson vs. Jeffrey Summers: Lightweight
Manny Fernandez vs. Emanuel Thompson: Featherweight
Seldon Wright vs. Conor Mosby: Welterweight
Kaine Tomlinson Jr vs. Kyle Hall: Welterweight