Ever had a bad night in your chosen profession?
I have. I am a retired professional bull rider. I started riding as a young lad, up in the Frozern North of Canada, just outside of Edmonton, Alberta.
At my peak, or in my prime years, I remember riding in my hometown rodeo. For the week leading up to it, I was the local favorite, and media darling of the day. I did interviews on television, and in the paper. I went to local schools, and pep rallies in my honor. It was awesome, and it was overwhelming. I bought 100 tickets to give away to freinds and family. It was going to be my triumphant return to the place, of my upbringing.
The night the rodeo was happening, they made me wait until the very end, so that I would be the last rider of the night. They had been hyping me, and talking about me all night, and there were people in the crowd with signs with my name on them. I got into the chute, onto a bull named "Snow Ghost", a large White bull, with a set of horns as big as a buick. The electricity was in the air, and the crowd was cheering like mad for me. There were about 10000 people in the arena, all desperately waiting to see the local "hero" ride this bull, stomping thier feet, chanting my name, and cheering like mad. The roof seemed like it was about to blow off of the hockey arena, they had converted for the rodeo.
I slid up, I nodded my head, which is asking the for the chute gate to be opened, and "Snow Ghost" had other plans. He leaned back, stumbled ahead, and kicked his back feet. The aftershocks threw me on my head, literally, without the bull taking a step out of the chute. It just went wrong, and it happened so fast, that I had little say in the matter. It was literally that fast. It was as if, I opened the gate, and jumped out into the arena, onto my head, and asked the bull to wait for me in the chute. The laughter of the stock contractor, the Locals, and my fellow cowboys could be heard now, overtaking the cheers. It was devastating for me personally.
One week later, I was on the road, riding and actually staying on again. Fifteen years later, people still remind me of that night.
I made you sit through that story, only because when I saw my guy, Big Tim Hague, a fellow Edmontonian, get "one punched" by Todd Duffee, it was what it reminded me of. I mean, Tim, fresh off of a surprising win, over excellent prospect, Pat Barry, was being looked at by the UFC, for a few better opponents, and bigger paydays.
You would recall what happened from there. He walked out into the centre of the ring, winged a bomb at the head of Duffee, who with expert timing, found an opening on his chin, and bang. Seven seconds later, Tim, and us up in Edmonton who cheer for the guy, all were done. It was literally gutwrenching. Like falling off of the High Level Bridge, in Edmonton, and down into the depths of the frozen North Saskatchewan River below.
Edmonton, I might add is not a sexy place to live. I actually think that instead of the nickname "the thrashing machine", Tim should be called "The Yeti". (Tim is a farm boy, from Northern Alberta, and it is a reference to a thrashing machine that chops up wheat) It was forty below zero all of last week here, and we received a skiff of snow, 12 inches deep, in one afternoon. The wind howls from the Artic circle, at about 45 miles an hour, making it even colder. We get summer for maybe two months of the year. Edmontonians, much like me, are gruff, cold, and fairly tough minded people. We fight in traffic, drink a lot of beer, and stay in our homes as much as possible. Have you ever noticed that the skin of Hague is snow white? It is because the sun rarely makes an appearance.
It has to be said though, that in the last few years, MMA has grown leaps and bounds here, mostly due to the push from upstart promoter Mark Pavelich, and his MFC fighting association. We are planting the seeds now, and guys like Jason Macdonald, Ryan Ford, and Tim Hague, are only the first wave. We have started at the bottom, but built it, and tended it, into something pretty good today. The sky is the limit, particularly when a person is fighting, so that they do not have to live here anymore. We here, are much like the UK was 15 years ago. We may not have the UFC title today, but it will not be for a lack of trying. Tomorrow? Who knows anything for sure. Ten years ago, a person would not have guessed that GSP coming out of Quebec, would be one of the best fighters to ever walk into the cage. Stranger things have happened.
But, in the frozen hellhole known as Edmonton, we have a saying. "It's not at all about the coming up. It's all about the coming back."
Tim, I know you do not know me, and maybe will never read this, but let me just say this. That KO did not change a thing, and anyone who has ever competed at a high level in anything, has seen dark days, just like you have. My man, I wish you the best, and hope that you understand that this loss does not define you.
Recently, I found out that Tim is scheduled to Face Chris Tushcherer at UFC 109. Chris is not a pushover in this division. He will be the heavy favorite, particularly given Tim's recent loss in 7 seconds.
But "the thrashing machine" will show up, and he will fight. He may not win, but I guarantee, that given the 7 second loss, he will be there to put in the fight of his life. This fight is what I would call the "cut" fight for Tim. Lose, and you will be back beating people up for 1000 dollars a show, in the frozen North. Win, and you may be training with one of the recognizable mma gyms accross the sunny USA, and back in line for a few big paydays.
Tim, it is sink or swim time. Good Luck, Dude. Win or lose, we will be pulling for you. But, please, if I may, keep your hands up, kid. ;)