The journey of an aspiring fighter #31

Published On September 7, 2013 | By Helen Harper | Blog

This is the first blog I have ever written with no notes, so it will either be amazing or awful… I am hoping for the former!

It’s been an absolutely insane couple of weeks, with a fight in the middle of it all just for good measure. Last week started out in Phuket, and I trained as normal at Phuket Top Team. We had MMA sparring class followed by the Jiu Jitsu gi class, which was my last gi training until the fight. The MMA class was run by Don, and I am really enjoying the attention to detail in his classes. He will never just made do, he will always come and help if he thinks he can improve your wrestling technique. I am really looking forward to working with him in the near future.


Tuesday morning, I set off bright and early to the airport to catch my flight to Singapore. It was a very short flight: I closed my eyes for what seemed like 5 minutes and suddenly we were landing! I was met at the airport by the one and only Arvind Lalwani of Juggernaut Fight Club in Singapore. I didn’t know then but in just one week I have adopted Arvind as another of my big brothers. This man is awesome. If you EVER get the opportunity to go to Singapore and train, I highly recommend you train with the guys at Juggernaut. The gym is set in the food and drink capital of Singapore, right on the Boat Quay (train stop: Raffles Place, exit G) so it is very easy to get to, and there are plenty of places to go and eat afterwards! The whole team welcomed me with open arms, and despite my being a total stranger to them all, I felt right at home straight away. The guys all helped me loads, from pad work to grappling, and it was boiling (more than Phuket) so it was super easy to stay on weight!

I actually ended up getting sick on the Wednesday, I am not sure the exact cause of it still but I think I might have just picked up a bug or something. It was horrible being so sick but I was looked after extremely well by the boys again, and within 24 hours I was on the road to recovery. The worst thing about being sick was feeling so weak, as I was unable to eat anything properly, but I kept a steady flow of electrolytes going through my body so the recovery time was minimized.

By the Friday I was feeling better again, so managed to roll a bit with some of the guys. There are loads of smaller guys there so it was nice to have that in Singapore as well as Phuket. The person who helped me the most in Singapore with the grappling was a man named Harold. Harold is an extremely good blue belt (I would say more like a purple) and small like me so very technical. He helped me loads by giving me tips and rolling loads with me, which was amazing.
On Friday I also ran my first ever seminar. I say seminar, but only one girl turned up, which actually ended up being perfect because she could ask as many questions as she wanted and I could give her my full attention. She had been training round 6 weeks so was perfect for me to be able to help as she had loads of questions. Thank you to Aziz for helping me by being my drill dummy!

Then came fight day!! I woke up pretty calm, and I was actually feeling fine until we started waiting for the taxi to take us to Jahor. I had a mild panic at that point because it all started becoming very real very quickly, but I managed to chill out a bit in the taxi and fall asleep. I actually fell asleep at every available opportunity during the whole day on fight day, which worked well for chilling myself out, however someone please remind me to get my headphones fixed by the next time I fight because that would have made the whole experience better still!
We got to Jahor in good time and I weighed in straight away, which meant I could eat REAL FOOD. That’s such a nice feeling, trust me. Although I didn’t have to cut much weight for this fight, I still had to keep myself at 57kg, when naturally I fluctuate between 57-59kg depending on the time of day, and lets face it (sorry boys) time of the month!
I had wanted to fight at 52-55kg but apparently the girl I fought wasn’t up for a weight cut so I ha to meet her in the middle at 57kg. Unfortunately, she clearly didn’t have enough respect to even attempt to make weight, and still weighed in at 61kg (yes, you heard me right – 4kg over weight!). I know making weight is a bitch, but seriously, out of respect to your opponent and the show you are fighting on, at least make the effort!
I thought about not taking the fight because of her missed weight, but I had been busting my ass for the past 6 weeks, training and working, going through who knows how many black eyes, and not to mention all the people that helped me so much preparing for the fight. Plus I had been off work for 4 days to train at Juggernaut for a few days before the fight, how could I live with myself if I didn’t even get in the cage and try? I didn’t want to let all those people down, and more importantly I didn’t want to let myself down.

To cut a long story short (if you want the long version the watch the video) I won via ground and pound in the first round, at 1.55m to be precise. I want to thank my opponent Liezel Lumidas for stepping into the ring with me, and I wish her every bit of success with her MMA career.


Then for food, and so much of it! Arvind took us to a Thai restaurant once we had got back to Singapore and we had dinner at 3am! It was at that point when I realised why I had needed to sleep so much, I needed to fill up my sleep bank. I think I would have been wide awake anyway to be honest, adrenaline does that to you. Wow what a day.

On Sunday it was sadly time to leave my new found friends and family in Singapore, which made me so very sad, but I left with a promise of returning next year and hopefully for longer next time. I can’t put in to words how grateful I am for everyone at Juggernauts time and effort in helping me with this fight, especially Arvind and the guys the came up to Jahor to corner me; Ali, Arab and Gabriel. THANK YOU!!

I have to shout out a couple of guys also that came and supported me (amongst others) in Jahor; Anna, Juli and Von – I love you girls way too much, Chad – you’re my hero, Fletch – thanks for the biased commentary, always appreciated. There were loads of people who said lovely things to me both before and after the fight and for this I can’t thank you enough – just because I didn’t name check you doesn’t mean I don’t love you!!


Monday morning: back to reality! I was totally high off the week in Singapore so I was completely hyper all day, it was great fun! I think my kids think I am crazy though. In the evening I went to my usual massage lady (on gym street by the tennis courts, tell them Helen sent you) and they gave me an amazing 2 hour long massage with Thai herbsĀ  – literally the best massage I have ever had! Also highly recommended.

Then on Tuesday a rather exciting person came to Phuket – my mate Craig from back home! I was so excited, and finally got to meet his lovely girlfriend. We had a lovely evening in Patong (only for dinner, no craziness) and it was amazing to see people from back home – made me a tad homesick though.


Wednesday, I decided enough was enough and I needed some Jiu Jitsu in my life. I can never keep away for long! I felt so fresh on the mat, felt like everything was just flowing, it felt like the most natural thing in the world for me when I was rolling. So good to be back! Thanks for the class Olavo!

Thursday was no-gi with Anthony, I have missed his classes – it’s been so long!! Anthony goes back to the states soon for the final of the Bellator Bantamweight Tournament which he is going to absolutely smash!! Can’t wait to watch it!


I can’t believe the week went so quickly, because it was Friday suddenly, which crept out of no where – and then the weekend! I trained just the gi class again because I wanted to give my face a bit of a break. I have had a pretty much constant black eye for the past 6 weeks and quite honestly, my cheek bones and a little tender. I will be back to in the week after next (unless I get any fight offers in the next 7 days – hint hint) and get my face ready for the next beating!

Today, it is Saturday, I trained Muay Thai morning class and then wrestling class. I felt so strong, and so excited to be training – I even got a few compliments from my Muay Thai trainer today – that almost never happens, but he was really pleased with me! Time to work on my stand up big time, in preparation for the next fight, whenever that may be.

Lastly, my friend Andrew Webber (mentioned in #29) kindly wrote an article about me which was published today – you can read said article here – and don’t forget to check out the rest of his site while you are there.

Thank you so much to everyone who was a part of my fight camp, Phuket Top Team, Juggernaut and Vicious Circle for sponsoring me – I love you all more than you know!

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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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