Sunday Column: Fighting Italians And Riding The Highs And Lows Of MMA

Jim Edwards of MMANytt gives his thoughts on Italian Fighting Championship and his reflections on the high and lows of MMA.

We’ve had a few weeks off from the UFC but there’s been no let up on the European MMA circuit.

From Cage Warriors in Gothenburg last week, to Italian Fighting Championships (IFC) in Milan, Italy last night. Neither shows were ever going to set the world alight in terms of their consequences, but having lived through them both now I’m glad to say I made the trip to see them first hand.

Let’s get things straight, had it not been for John Maguire fighting in the main event of IFC 3 last night, I wouldn’t of been there.

The fight card was packed full of regional talent with Maguire really the only recognisable name for fight fans outside of Italy.

Having got to know Maguire and his team well over the years, a weekend trip to Italy to shoot a fight day from start-to-finish sounded like aa good way to spend bank holiday weekend and to be fair, having been to Milan previously for the infamous Venator FC 3 card a few years back, a return visit sounded in order.

Seeing the whole of fight day through the eyes of a fighter and his team was enlightening to say the least. Waiting was the name of the game for most of the day yesterday and when you’re fighting at around midnight local time, it turns out to be a very long one.

When 9pm struck the team made their way to the arena via a taxi driver who seem to know only one speed, fast.

As you can imagine, luxuries such as transport and real warm up areas were absent from the experience,  but IFC is a new promotion finding their feet and they did a lot of things very well.

The Teatro Principe was a good venue a for a smaller show. It was hot, full to the rafters and with a balcony level packed as far back as you could see with men, women and children. It had intensity without intimidation and the crowd were excitable from the minute we arrived.

As expected, the main event hit the cage at around 00:30 and Maguire made the walk flanked by brother Tommy, Mark Day, Fabio Ferrari and Jack Mason, yes, Jack Mason, the man who just 7 days ago went viral after he received one of the worst cuts seen in MMA at Cage Warriors 93. These people are made of tough stuff.

Maguire’s opponent Stefano Paterno received a heroes welcome and the fight began with chants of ‘Stefano, Stefano, Stefano’ ringing in the air.

The fight for the most part was uneventful. After a few exchanges in the centre of the mat, Maguire clinched the Italian against the cage and looked to work muscle his way into a takedown.

Maguire had the strength and the position to get the Italian to the mat, but he made a mistake that didn’t go unpunished.

Shooting for a double, he left his head exposed and Paterno fired in some elbows right above the back of the ear. In the blink of an eye the fight was done.

It’s a cruel sport this sometimes. One mistake at the higher levels can cost you everything and in the blink of an eye the training, the dieting, the mental preparation can all very quickly come to nothing.

Here’s the scene a few minutes after the fight in the back. A photo can say a thousand words sometimes.

We all fail at times and there’s often not anything that anyone can say to make it all feel better right away.

Sometimes it’s just about being there and I can’t think of anything worse than losing on your own.

What’s the point of even winning on your own? Does it matter if you win everything but no one cares and there’s no one to share your success with?

Pain and the feeling of failing is always temporary, especially when it’s in your own hands to turn it back around.

Later that night as we walked down some Italian street at 3am on the hunt for gelato (don’t ask), one of the group reflected on what MMA was about.

Seeing the world and experiencing things no normal set of people will ever do with teammates and friends.

Most won’t ever see past the violent nature of the sport, but when you look at the people you get to meet, the places you get to see, and the things you get to do, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Both sides of the fence it’s a crazy sport.

Bring on next week.

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