Last week I got to train with not only Ultimate Fighting Championship 155-pound champ B.J. Penn, but also World Extreme Cagefighting 145-pound champ Urijah Faber. I’ve got to be honest, I really can’t complain about spending the week training with two of the best pound-for-pound fighters out there.
This was the first time I had met Urijah, but had seen a bunch of his fights. If you aren’t familiar with "Bam Bam" (that’s his new nickname…. he is getting way too old to still be the "California Kid") then I suggest you start watching more WEC on the Versus channel, because his fights are constantly being shown. If you can’t wait that long then go and do a search on YouTube and check out some video.
Turns out Urijah is fighting Jens Pulver next, so he is working out with some guys that know a thing or two about Jens and have some experience and history with him. Urijah is one of the smartest fighters I have met in regards to training and has a ridiculous work ethic.
In between training sessions, we managed to have a little fun. When I first came to Hawaii, I had a checklist of things I wanted to do: surfing, jumping off bridges, seeing flowing lava and a few others were all on the list. Of those, seeing some flowing lava was the only one that I hadn’t crossed off the list, until this week.
I forget what night it was, but Hoyt Gracie organized a trip and a bunch of us went up and saw "the flow". My mental picture of the lava flow was a wide river of lava that moved pretty slowly. Well, I was half right. There is a flow that is about half a mile wide, and it flows right into the ocean. This wasn’t the flow we were going to though. We want to a "fire field" where you see crawling red patches of molten rock with intermittent fires scattered throughout. If I didn’t know any better, I would almost think I was in a movie.
There were a lot of other people there as we walked up. Some people had sticks and were sticking them in the fire just to watch them burn, some were jumping over flowing lava, some were walking on lava that had just cooled in the past few seconds, while others had shovels and were scooping blobs of lava and holding it above their heads and dodging the lava as it nearly fell on them.
You would think that lava dodging would be one of the stupidest things you could do with lava until you see the guy that was drinking a little bit too much and was taking pictures laying down as the lava got closer and closer until it was only a couple inches away. Fortunately, this guy didn’t win a Darwin award and left the field just fine with all of his skin just as it was when he got there.
I was pretty amazed at how close he was getting to the lava though, because even just standing within a few feet of it you can really feel the heat. It was raining lightly, but if you were within 10 feet of the lava, you didn’t feel any rain. I remember thinking about the third Star Wars movie (the cheesy newer ones) where Anakin was fighting Obi Wan in the lava field and they were just jumping all around the lava flow like nothing was going on. After this trip though, I don’t believe it for a second! I was willing to believe that force choking someone was possible, but there is absolutely no way you can hang out around lava like that and not get burned up.
Aside from the obvious heat, you need to be real careful of the rocks around the field as well. When near lava you need to do the obvious thing, which is throw normal rocks into the flowing lava and watch what happens. In the process of finding rocks, Urijah and I both ended up cutting our hands on sharp rocks. Apparently it?s not a good idea to be picking up sharp rocks in the dark. I think my cut was worse because I stained everyone?s shirts and shorts in training for a couple days (sorry Gabe), as my finger decided to bleed every time I even thought about grappling.
Usually, I am a pasta or steak and mashed potatoes kind of guy for most of my meals. Urijah is more of a health foot nut though, so we ate at this health food store called Island Naturals. It’s a little more expensive than normal food, but I was pretty impressed with how good the food was. We each got a smoothie, a sandwich and some salad and other stuff (I had to get that lasagna in there) for like $25 each. Not too bad for what has to be pretty much the best food you can put into your body.
Urijah saw the amount of food I had and was laughing telling me there was no way I was going to be able to finish it all, but his tune changed as I stuffed the last pieces of food into my mouth. I will admit, I wasn’t hungry towards the end, but I had to finish up to prove a point. The point: I eat like a fat kid.
Tracy Lee from Combat Lifestyle was going to be in Oahu for Icon and wanted to make a stop in Hilo to take some pictures of B.J., Urijah and me training. She sent me a text about it and was in Hilo a few days later. She took a ton of pictures of us just hanging around and training. You can see a bunch of her pictures at CombatLifestyle.com including the gross amounts of food we were eating.
As I type this, I am on a plane back to Boston. I was originally planning to be home because my brother, Dan, and nine of my other guys are were supposed to be fighting on Saturday night. Unfortunately "The Upgrade" came down with Staph infection and had to pull out of his fight.
It?s good heading home for a few days before I head out to Colorado. I might be going a little overboard with getting used to the elevation, but I want to be as prepared as possible. Fortunately Noah Thomas lives out there, so Dan and I will be out there, staying with him and working out at his gym. Hopefully the two and a half weeks out there will help me out. I will let you know next week how our guys did.
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