Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blood, Sweat and Tears = Bond of Brotherhood

The UFC card on Fuel TV Saturday night live from Fortaleza, Brazil was an exciting and memorable one for a few reasons. The record eight submission victories in 12 fights should have been reason enough. However, after watching the card early this morning, as I DVR'd it because of a DJ commitment Saturday night, I came away with something much more.

The photo above shows UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo hugging 'Nova Uniao' teammate Leonardo Santos after his victory earned him 'The Ultimate Fighter/Brazil 2' title. What cannot be clearly seen are the tears of joy Aldo literally had in his eyes for Santos. The story of Aldo and Santos relationship was well documented by Jon Anik and Kenny Florian live on air.

Santos, seven years older than Aldo, is not only a teammate at 'Nova Uniao', but he's like a big brother. Apparently when Aldo, who comes from very humble beginnings, was just a teenager at the gym, Santos, also from a poor background, looked out for the youngster; even to the point of sharing money with him. That relationship, coupled with the blood, sweat and tears they've shared and endured over the years, literally brought the champion to tears in the cage last night. It is a bond of brotherhood that is shared commonly by martial artists who train together day in and day out.

Note I said martial artists and not mixed martial artists. That is because this has nothing to do with the sport. I've been training in martial arts for nearly 13 years at the same school and I can tell you that when you're literally sweating on one another, creating bumps, bruises and brush burns as you roll around on a mat trying to submit each other, a respect is formed. You're there with a brother pushing each other to limits you had thought were unattainable and when you reach them, the joy is mutual for one another; it's hard to explain unless you've been there.

This is why it angers me when I hear fans of MMA along with executives like UFC  President and promoter Dana White saying they don't understand why teammates won't fight each other. Granted this is a business, but friendship and more importantly brotherhood goes way beyond that. How far beyond?

Daniel Cormier is currently undefeated and the #3 ranked heavyweight in the world. However, his teammate and training partner at 'American Kickboxing Academy' Cain Velasquez also happens to be the UFC heavyweight champion. Thus, Cormier, believing Velasquez's reign will be long instead of short, has said he will fight one more time at heavyweight and then make the drop to light-heavyweight. This sort of thing has happened at other camps as well, such as at 'Alpha Male' where a perennial contender such as Urijah Faber has dropped to bantamweight (135 lbs.), so as not to compete with the ascent of teammate Chad Mendes at featherweight (145 lbs.).

Yet, there were other examples I saw on Saturday night of the bond of brotherhood I am speaking of. When Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira came back to his corner after the first round of his fight on Saturday night, you saw Anderson Silva, the consensus number one pound for pound fighter in the world and arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all-time, carrying Nogueira's spit bucket into the cage. The champ then proceeded to hold an ice-pack on his mentor's back while wiping the sweat off his forehead and brow. This is a humility and respect that is forged only through blood, sweat and tears.

Finally, when Nogueira, a legend in the sport and master in jiu-jitsu, was submitted in the second round by fellow jiu-jitsu master Fabricio Werdum I saw another gesture of respect. Werdum, only two years Noguiera's junior, knelt down and bowed to Nogueira. While they are not teammates, they have the common bond that comes from years of training and sacrificing. Thus, through blood, sweat and tears, a bond of brotherhood was formed.

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