I spent exactly 47 seconds in the cage fighting a Chinese kickboxer named Wang Guan. I had the plan to back him up with my jab, circle him till his back was toward my corner, then shoot in, put him on the floor and finish with some ground and pound and/or a submission.
It all went well until I had his back up against my corner. I clinched up with him, and then for some reason I can't explain, I just let go. I peppered him with a few more jabs and grazed him with a head kick. Then he threw a body kick which I caught. I've spent so many hours catching kicks and drilling all the ways to throw, trip, submit, or KO an opponent from there. What did I actually do? I paused for a moment and then just let go of the leg. To make matters worse, I threw a body kick of my own which Wang Guan easily caught. Immediately, he capitalized on the trapped leg by throwing two quick punches. The first punch missed completely, but the second just barely connected with my chin at the perfect angle to score a knock out. I fell to the canvas, unconscious already at this point, hitting the back of my head hard on the floor, which caused a concussion. Wang Guan followed up with another right hand to the head before the referee stepped in to stop the fight. That last punch did the real damage. It broke my skull in two places.
I don't remember anything about the fight besides getting in the cage and working my jab a little bit. What I do remember is an ambulance ride to the hospital and vomiting blood all night as doctors explained to me that my skull had been broken and that I would never fight again.
I've taken a lot of hits in a lot of fights from much bigger, stronger heavier hitting fighters- but never with results like this.
How does a natural lightweight break the hardest part of the human cranium in two places with only one punch? It doesn't add up. I once mounted an opponent in a fight in Xi'An, dropping hard elbows on his forehead for over 2 straight minutes. He walked away with a few bruises and a tiny cut. Keep in mind, I can smash stacks of bricks with my elbows.
Simple: loaded wraps
The problem was, this was supposed to be a sanctioned event under unified rules. Unified rules specifically forbid putting any tape over the knuckles because it is dangerous- as evidenced by the fact that I have a hole in my head now. Unified rules also specify that hands can only be wrapped with no more 10 feet of 2" gauze and 10 feet of 1" medical tape.
Each fighter in the RUFF show was also supplied with a 15 yard roll of red or blue elastic adhesive tape. This colored tape was meant only to seal the velcro strap on the outside of the glove and to denote whether the fighter was in the red or blue corner. Most MMA shows use either colored duct tape, colored vinyl tape, or the same athletic tape used to wrap hands. This was problematic because the Chinese fighters used the elastic adhesive to tape their hands in addition to the the gauze and medical tape, no only breaking the rules, but also giving themselves an unfair and dangerous advantage by further solidifying their fists.
Normally, when a human hand strikes a solid object, the many bones and soft tissue of the hand bend and bow around the target. When the hand is tightly wrapped in layers of contracting elastic adhesive tape, the hand can no longer shift position around the target, instead, it retains it's shape, penetrating the target even deeper.
There are lots of ways to load wraps, but the most common in southeast Asia is to make a small cast of the knuckles with tape over the front of the fist. This is reinforced with alternating layers of gauze and tape over the knuckles, often with ropes made of twisted strips of tape between the knuckles. The end result is a hard cast that makes the fist into a hammer. It's illegal in the USA and most other countries with sanctioning bodies to put anything over the knuckles except for fresh gauze.
With a 12oz boxing glove, a loaded wrap has the effect of transforming a hard, but padded punch into an extra solid bludgeoning weapon, highly increasing the chances of a KO, cuts, and all the other ravages of blunt force trauma. With a 4oz-6oz non-padded MMA glove, loaded wraps are roughly the equivalent of getting hit with brass knuckles.
In theory, there are 2 purpose of gloves in combat sports: 1. to protect the athletes' hands from injury. 2. To soften the blow to an opponent and reduce friction, reducing the likelihood of cuts and other serious injuries.
However, loaded wraps change the second function of gloves to the following: 3. To provide just enough of a buffer between the hardened cast on the fighter's hands and his opponent's face to cause maximum damage. Because sometimes, a knock out simply won't do. Sometimes you need a maiming. Apparently, full contact fighting isn't dangerous enough already in southeast Asia.
I've seriously been trying to look on the bright side, and so far the best I've come up with is that I never have to cut weight again. I hate cutting weight. When I was competing in the USA I fought at, or above my walking around weight. When i fought at 155, I actually weighed 155 lbs. When I fought at 170, I weighed 165. When I fought at 185, I only weighed 171lbs. Most American fighters cut down one weight class in hopes of being a little bigger. I didn't start cutting weight seriously until I moved to China.
That's ironic because Chinese fighters rarely cut weight. If they fight at 70kg, they usually walk around at 70kg, for example. In Chinese fight shows, the fighters are usually meet at a catch-weight. As long as there's no more than a 5kg difference between the fighters, they call it good.
So why did I start cutting weight here? Simple- Asian fighters tend to be much smaller than their American counterparts. Promoters from China, Mongolia, and Singapore would offer me fights at 64kg (70kg at the most) when I was walking around closer to 75kg. The only way to compete was to cut weight.
I should write a blog on how to safely and effectively cut weight and put it back on. There's a lot to cover on that subject, and going about it the wrong way can be dangerous.
In any case, cutting weight is torture, and I'm not going to miss it one bit. As soon as I can get up and walk normally again, I'm going to eat a cheeseburger or two.