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On Saturday, April 25th, 2015 Edson Penado embarked on more than simply another MMA fight in the United Show of Force 4. From his fight on November 8th, 2014, we found that there were many things needing improvement. Some new techniques needed to be taught to him and other things needed to be unlearned to prepare him for his April 25th fight.
Edson had primarily fought standing, using his boxing and kick boxing to wear down his opponents. While he could hit hard, his combinations could become predictable over the course of a 3-round MMA fight. With the help of fellow Quincy BJJ students (Tony Aguilar, Joe Westby & Lalo Ortiz), Quincy High School Wrestling Coaches & Alumni, T-Town MMA and Gig Harbor MMA we all put in time to help him switch up his standup game and help him prepare to his best for his fifth fight.
Grappling was also an area of improvement Edson needed. When he started training for his November 8th fight, Quincy BJJ’s head coach, Jeremy Seda required that he focus on Gi on top of his existing No Gi training, claiming, “Gi will make your No Gi better, and vice versa.” After several months, Edson commented to Coach Christan, how much he had come to love Gi and did not care much to train No Gi. She replied with, “well you’d better get to liking it again with your fights coming up!” As Edson picked up some new techniques and escapes by training in Gi, he learned the importance of pressure and the BJJ ideology that the sport is not merely an on/off switch, but a throttle. Sometimes you can go 100%, but you have to spend much more time in the 1-99% range to be effective.
Greg Martinez (Head Wrestling Coach) and Blas Magana of Quincy High School Wrestling helped teaching solid wrestling takedowns and defenses for Edson. Lucky for Edson, Blas Magana was also a seasoned boxer and became a much needed training partner for him in the months and weeks leading up to the fight.
Then there was 100 lb. Coach Christan Seda, who wanted to make sure Edson had enough conditioning prior to his fight. During the last conditioning session, Christan asked Edson, “are you getting tired?” Edson made a mistake in his reply of “no, not really“. Coach Christan went into “Drill Sergeant” mode with a voice that could motivate anyone and after another 1/2 hour, Edson was showing signs of wear, but wasn’t allowed to quit. When Christan was done with Edson, he mentioned that his Chest was hurting because of how hard he had been breathing.
The biggest areas of improvement Edson needed was humility and respect, which is what would take him to the next level as a competitor. Jeremy strategized with Christan on how to create an environment where we could transform Edson’s mentality of a fighter into that of a martial artist and for him to realize his true potential. Edson performs best when he’s happy, so we had him spar and had everyone in the room cheer for his opponents in order to “break him”. Joe Westby was one of the training partners that day and knew exactly what would rattle Edson–“point out his weaknesses and make fun of his strengths.” When we could see Edson’s performance fading with his smile, Jeremy coached him telling him “don’t despair, remember who you’re representing! Your team, your family and yourself. You should be happy and smiling for them, and care not about the other people who aren’t cheering for you.” His composure, spirits and performance went back up and then everyone started cheering for him to build him back up. Another important lesson of humility could only be explained by giving Edson the homework of watching “Ender’s Game”. The message Jeremy wanted to drive home to Edson was that “the way you win is more important than the win“. Edson demonstrated this lesson prior to his fight at the Revolution XXVII when he helped up his 3rd opponent who was too exhausted and defeated to get up. We saw the same behavior immediately following his March 25th fight when he thanked, bowed, and shook hands with his opponent and each of his opponent’s coaches. Furthermore, after leaving the cage and making our way back to the staging area, Edson said, “this isn’t just a win for me, this is a win for all of us, because everyone had a part in this win.”
To say that we at the Narrows Fight Team—Quincy BJJ, T-Town MMA and Gig Harbor MMA—are proud of Edson’s 5th win would be an understatement, because we have all helped him prepare for his fight. Yet, his victory pales in comparison to his transformation from fighter to martial artist. Yet, none of that would have been possible if Edson would not humble himself before his coaches & teammates, respect the competition and “empty his cup” so that we could fill it up with new knowledge, skills and more passion for the sport. So we are all thankful to Edson for being an example of what the BJJ life can do for someone and what he can achieve by putting his mind to it and never giving up, even when it feels hopeless.