The journey of an aspiring fighter #20

Published On May 29, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

My 20th blog feels like such a landmark occasion: 1 blog a week, for the past 20 weeks. It really isn’t that much time however I feel like I have changed as a person and an athlete in such a short space of time. Everything has become so clear to me regarding my goals and passions, and I feel even more focused than I was only 20 weeks ago.

The past two weeks in particular have been an absolute whirlwind – one I have absolutely loved every second of! I am usually pretty good at making notes on my training, my emotions and my thoughts and feelings for the day, however the past two weeks have gone so quickly I barely managed to keep a track of the day and what country I was in so I have somewhat failed on this. HOWEVER… I hope to bring possibly the most exciting blog so far so sit tight and enjoy the ride with me….

The two main events that have happened since my last blog are the Pan Asians in Manila, and MFC in Kuala Lumpur. So to keep things simple I will give a brief run down of both events – and I will apologise for my awful memory now because I can’t imagine I will remember all the finer details but I will do my best!

Pan Asians, Manila
This was a very well run event, the first one I have been to in a shopping mall but it turns out this is a great place to hold both a tournament and a fight! I got to Manila late on Friday night in preparation for the competition on Saturday and Sunday but luckily both Brad and Matt (who also competed) were already there and knew where everything was. Saturday morning we got up WAY too early and worried about making weight for far too long before setting off to the shopping center. We got there before anyone else (about an hour early, a decision we later regretted!) but it was pretty cool to see a completely empty mat.
panasiansemptymatThe first day was gi day and the women were up first. I made the mistake of not preparing my post weigh in drink – and ended up getting on the mat only 20 minutes or so after my weigh in so I didn’t feel as strong as I should have (I have learnt from this). My first opponent was ridiculously strong and very good at retracting her arms quickly but by the middle of the match I realised if I was going to win this it would have to be by submission as I was loosing on points. Luckily I managed on about my fifth attempt to control one of her arms and arm bar her – it was a mission! This first round is here filmed my the wonderful Matt (Thank you!)
This round put me into the next round in which I faced a Brazilian girl who ended up winning on points. Unfortunately I don’t seem to have a video of this fight but I am hoping one will surface at some point so I can see the many things I need to work on… Gi is definitely my weakest discipline at the moment so I have massive room for improvement! The Brazilian girl went on to win gold so I was actually really pleased to go out to her – she also had 4 stripes on her belt so I expect she was awarded her blue belt after winning this class. She certainly deserved it.

podiumgiclasspanasiansI ended up taking bronze in the gi class so I was pretty happy with that considering that it is certainly not my strongest. Hopefully next comp I will have a few more months training under my belt and will do a little better!

I decided not to do the absolute class as I was saving myself for the following weekend (MFC) which meant we left a little earlier – right after Matt and Brad took to the mats. Matt did really well but unfortunately his class was the biggest of the day with 31 competitors in it and he finished just outside the medals. Brad even more unfortunately went out in his first round against a fantastic blue belt who went on to with the gold medal.

Sunday was a far more successful day for both myself and Matt (Brad not so much although he was a great corner man as always) We didn’t get up quite so early this time, and worried slightly less about our weight – which in my case was bad because when I turned up in the morning I was .4kg over my weight! Luckily I had a few good people to help me sweat it out, I skipped for 10 minutes until someone suggested rolling as a much more fun/sweaty way of dropping the weight. Obviously this was fantastic to me, so I ended up rolling with one of Brad’s friends for a further 10 minutes until I scraped in to my weight class at 56.45kg (weight class was 56.5kg!) Too much chicken and rice the night before I think!

I was really lucky to skip the first round of my class because there was an odd amount of people in the class – so I just went straight in to the second round where I faced a girl who unfortunately for her got guillotined which put me into the final. The final came round pretty quick and I ended up guillotining the next girl too to win the gold medal! I was so happy, it was such an amazing feeling to get my hand raised and know my hard work and training had paid off.

After the success of my weight class, Brad and Matt decided to persuade me to enter into the absolute (which I had no intention of doing) and I managed to get 4 matches in it because there were so many girls entered! The first 3 of the 4 matches I ended up wining by guillotine (which makes 5 out of 6 matches won by a guillotine!) however the last match I lost on points to the girl who won the weight class above me. She was very good and extremely strong, so it was again a pleasure to loose to her – she absolutely deserved the win. For the record the points were equal (2-2) but she had 4 advantage points to my 2. It was a fun match and I do feel like I learnt a lot from it – that’s what we are all here for isn’t it?
Matt recorded 3 of the no-gi matches – two of the guillotines and the final of the absolute which was the one I lost on points. The two guillotine matches are here and here, and the points loss is here. Thank you again Matt!

matthelenbradTeam Phuket Top Team at the Pan Asians! L-R: Matt Dallaire, me, Brad Terrey. Thank you boys, the weekend would have been no where near as fun without you both there. Matt also managed to pick up the silver medal in the no-gi class which was extremely well done as the class was massive again, well done Matt!

mattsilvermedalI must also give a massive shout out to the girls most of whom I know from the BKK Open. These girls are now all blue belts – very well done ladies, so they were all in the blue belt class and I didn’t have to fight any of them (luckily) but they all did really well – seriously impressed by how far you guys have come since October, look at all those medals!!

bjjgirls1 bjjgirls2The official results for the Pan Asians can be found here.

MFC VI, Kuala Lumpur

The week following the Pan Asians went by in a blur, partly because I was excited to fight and partly because I was cutting weight so even more in my own little world than normal… So I will skip right to Friday 24th. Brad Terrey, Will Chope and I met at 5am to get a taxi to the airport. Way too early but I was too excited to sleep anyway so it wasn’t so bad. I was cutting weight but I was also taking anti-biotics for my disgusting infected foot so I was even more delirious than normal however despite my ‘condition’ Brad and Will still decided to eat a Subway right in front of me. Thanks guys, love you both….
I forgave them both though because they both looked after me in my emotional weight cutting state – thanks boys! We got to KL and were met at the airport by the beautiful Anna (she trained with us at PTT) and she took us straight to the gym to check mine and Will’s weight. I was on weight 4 hours before the official weigh in so I treated myself to a few sips of Gatorade. I wish that sounded more exciting but trust me on a weight cut that really is a treat! Anna and I then had some girly time whilst Brad helped another one of our team mates Lachlan with the last stage of his cut.
Finally, what seemed like forever, we got to the weigh in! I made weight at 54.7kg and Zhen made 54.5kg so we were both on the money. We then had to do a stare down which neither of us took remotely seriously and every time we made eye contact we both started giggling – definitely the best way to go in a stare down! Most of the boys took it was too seriously so it was actually pretty cool to be on the more chilled out fighters side.

staredownweighin weighinmfc6After the weigh in we had to go to the press conference which was in a different location – but they did give us free food. We went from Southgate shopping mall (where both the weigh in and fights took place) to Remedy club (press conference and official after party) and had another load of photos taken, loads of press around talking to us and more photos… Brad managed to take a few too which I have kindly stolen (thanks Brad).
helenzhen helenzhenstage helenzhenstaredownpressconfAgain, neither Zhen or I could keep a straight face at any point during the stare down, which I still maintain is the way forward. The food was amazing and well needed – company was pretty good too!
Post food the fighters all had to speak to the press, however I am pretty sure my interview was essentially useless as I was so nervous I kept having mind blanks! Here’s a nice pic from our table in Remedy.
remedypressconfWe were pretty much done after this point, which I was slightly glad about because we had been up since 4am traveling – I was ready to crash out! I stayed at Anna’s house and met her lovely mum who I am pretty sure either I have adopted her or she has adopted me – I am not sure which? She was amazing! My Malaysian mummy!
Saturday came and we went out for lunch in the shopping mall near to Anna’s house, I could eat proper food!! This is still exciting for me!! We then had to be at the fight venue for 5pm to run through the introduction – which I was actually more nervous about than the actual fight. All the fighters had to line up, come down the escalator and stand on the outside of the cage whilst people took photos of us. It was really odd to think that someone wanted to take a picture of me, but some people did and one of them is here:
cagelineupmfc6Standing next to me is Lachlan Hay, who also won his fight but a little quicker than me with a first round submission. Calm down ladies….
Anyway after all the pretty stuff was done, it was finally time to get down to the real reason we were all there… the fights. I was fight number 7, Lachlan number 8 and Will number 9 so it was a pretty insane 3 fights! The video of my fight is here but I also have a few pictures from various different people including Mike Yip (thank you to everyone, I stole the others off different people profiles so I have no idea who the other people are to thank individually sorry!)helenzhenfight1 helenzhenfight2 helenzhenfight3


Plus two different angles of the all important hand raise! This is literally the single best 3 seconds of my entire life, the hand raise. All fighters will know the importance, but to the non-fighters out there… I don’t know if I can describe this feeling to do it justice. I felt like I was watching someone else get their hand raised because there was no way on earth I would be good enough to get my hand raised in an MMA fight, but then reality struck and I realised it was my hand that was being raised, and the pride and adrenaline took over every other emotion. It felt absolutely unreal.
blackandwhitewinmfc6 helenwinmfc6So I won my first pro MMA fight, by a third round guillotine. The best night of my life without a shadow of a doubt. I really have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that made this fight possible: the organisers of MFC, Paul Teo of Muayfit and all the Muayfit staff/helpers; Boyd Clarke at Phuket Top Team for believing in me and letting me train with the insane line up at Top Team itself – JJ Ambrose, Anthony and Andrew Leone, Olavo Abreu amongst others. Ruby and Jane thank you for looking after my infected foot (I couldn’t walk for the 4 days before the fight because a blister on my foot got infected, but between Ruby and Jane we managed to get it back on track and I managed to be able to walk by Saturday!) Also huge thanks to Matt and Brad for the help at the Pan Asians, and Brad again and Anna for all the help at MFC. Thank you to Anna and your mum for letting me stay with you for the weekend, I will be back soon! Thanks to Fletch for filming the fight and writing a beautiful article about it. Thank you to everyone who beat me up to prepare me for this fight, in particular Benji and Brad – you two are awesome. Most of all thank you to Zhen Wei for stepping into the cage with me, what a lovely girl, I have so much respect for you and can’t wait to watch your MMA career blossom.

I almost forgot, I was privileged enough to speak to Chad Sanderson of last week before the fight and he was kind enough to put some words together about me. Thank you so much for such a well written article Chad! You can see said article here.

Thank you Phuket Top Team, I love you guys so much!

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About The Author

English Mixed Martial Artist fighting out of Andy Roberts BJJ and Legacy BJJ with a pro record of 4-1.

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