One giant mistake after another

My last couple of blogs have been of a somewhat serious nature and although I consider Mma a serious business, I thought I’d try and break it up a bit. This time with some kind of ‘light hearted’ Mma subject but, try as I might, I just couldn’t think of anything that fitted the bill, maybe it’s because I take Mma so seriously. Until, that is, I had a ‘light bulb moment’ and realised the subject was under my nose all the time, just like when the car keys are in your hand- while you’re looking for them!

So, what was under my nose this whole time? I hear you ask. The obvious answer would be ‘my lips’ but no it’s not my lips as they are more ‘sculpted and handsome’ than ‘funny and light hearted’, but I digress. What I’m getting at is why ‘try’ to pick a funny Mma topic when I can just delve in to my emergency bag of pride stories, which I usually call upon to rescue me at awkward social occasions, and since the ‘Fedor drinking story’ went down so well I reckon my Giant Silva story is just the ticket to keep you heathens happy. So, are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin.

I got the call from my agent that Pride wanted me for their NYE show, this was going to be my fourth outing under Pride but my first ever NYE show, so I was understandably ‘excited’. “Who do they want me to fight?” I said with a fair bit of trepidation as it was starting to become clear that if you fought for Pride then you could be facing anything they wanted, from a sumo, to a masked wrestler, and anything else in between. This time it was a giant! Now, I’d also become accustomed to Pride changing opponents constantly, it was just the way it was. The guy you were meant to fight would, more than likely, change countless times. Sometimes it was because of injury, most of the time it was because the Pride executives sat round the table playing their own version of ‘who would win’ between Superman v’s Batman, only with real Mma fighters.

I know this because, a lot of the time, the opponent I was supposed to fight was still fighting on the same card, just not against me!

With the Giant Silva fight I had a feeling they wouldn’t change their minds.

Now, fighting Giant Silva brings its own set of problems, granted. Let’s not pretend he’s anything more than just a massive guy with unfortunate hair!

Joking aside, training for someone like this is hard, due to the fact there aren’t many ‘Giants’ kicking around the gym to spar with and I have to hold my hands up when I say I’m not as ‘imaginative’ as Minowa with my training methods.

Minowa training for Silva



So, I put it to the back of my mind and concentrated on getting as fit and as ready as I could.

We arrived in Japan and were greeted at the airport by the most overenthusiastic member of the Pride staff they could find. It was like the guy had been injected with pure joy and happiness!

We must have been stood in the ‘greeting area’ for at least 2 minutes, where me and my team mates took great pleasure in seeing how many times we could get our over enthusiastic ‘new friend’ to respond to us with incessantly ‘bowing’ back at him every time he ‘bowed’ at us. He was a ‘hard-core bower’ and thus so ‘out bowed’ us all, clearly a pro at that ‘bowing’ shit.

Feeling dizzy we loaded into the car and made our way to the hotel. I was excited to see what the hotel was like because usually it seem to correlate to how big the show was, and since they don’t get much bigger than NYE, my expectations were huge.

I can’t remember what the hotel was called I just remember it was more than I expected & massive. It had giant chandeliers and marble everywhere, and it took a ten minute walk to get from the door to the reception. As we were checking in my trainer/manager at the time, Charlie, nudged me and said “there you go Jamesy”

He always called me ‘Jamesy’; the fact that I hated it and asked him not to do it, didn’t seem to matter.

He was gesturing over at Giant Silvia “fucking hell” I said, and I don’t think I ever meant those words more. He was, as his name hinted at, A GIANT!

I uttered the words “I’m going to have a look”

I crossed the vast expanse of shiny, marbled floor. Giant Silva was talking to a hotel porter that he could have quite possibly taken out of his pocket, when I approached him with my charming smile, extended hand and said “hello mate, pleased to meet you”. He looked at me startled for a second before looking like he might pick me up like a ‘drum stick’ and take a bite out of me. He then shook my hand before grunting and lumbering off.

I made the hike back to the reception desk where my trainer greeted me with “Well what do you think?”

“If sideshow Bob and a hammerhead shark ever mated, that would be their love child” I responded.

Charlie laughed as my Mrs punched me on the arm and said “don’t say that, I feel sorry for him!”

“That’s comforting” I said, “you’re on my side remember!?!”

I was making a joke, but I was worried. He was the biggest person I’d ever seen, never mind fought and I wasn’t sure, literally, how to tackle this ‘giant’ problem. I slept badly that night, partly due to jet lag and partly because I kept re-living the experience of the Giant Silva ‘shovels’ enveloping my feminine, dainty, excuses for hands. I looked at my hands and moved my fingers, just to make sure Giant Silva hadn’t secretly crushed them, and tried to get some sleep.
Fast forward to fight night… All the fighters were separated and put into their ‘corners’. I remember sitting there on a chair, with all the other fighters in the same corner, waiting to go out for the introduction. I was nervous, much more nervous than usual. The ‘size thing’ had really thrown me and I still wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle the fight.

At my last fight in Pride I hadn’t done ‘The Gong and Dash’ because Lungu, the guy I was fighting, was a good wrestler/judo guy. I didn’t want to run into him and have him throw me and land on top, so I just made it look like I was going to rush him and then just walked out towards him. The crowd didn’t boo at this, it was a lot worse than boo’s, they let out a collective ‘sigh’ of disappointment. I heard this, panicked and threw a sloppy jab. Lungu hit me with a hook that looks (if you watch the fight back) like it decapitated me.

Next thing he was on top of me! Which was EXACTLY what I was trying to avoid!

This last Pride ‘Gong & Dash episode made my mind up that, if I was going to do it, I needed to really (cue inspirational ‘Nike’ commercial voice) DO IT! So, that’s what I did.

Giant Silva isn’t the greatest ‘Mma scalp’ to ever claim, but I was pleased at the way I executed the ‘Gong & Dash’. If you’re going to do it then that’s the way it has to be done… Flat out with no hesitation.

After the fight the Pride staff took some of the fighters for food at a Korean BBQ. We jumped in a taxi and we were taken to the large restaurant which had, from what I remember, a lot of different floors. We were directed to the first floor where there was a small, open room with two long tables and benches, and directly opposite to them was a bar. On the table furthest away from us were Fedor, Alexander and other members of their team. Fedor and a few others acknowledged us, we all said “hello” and sat on the other bench. I shuffled down to the end of the bench, which just happened to work itself out so that I was sat ‘back to back’ with Alexander. This wasn’t a problem, it didn’t even look like he’d registered that anyone else had entered the same room as him, never mind that I was inches from his back!

It didn’t bother me at all but it made me realise that when it came to Pride, you could be soccer kicking a guy in the face one minute then sat next to him having some food the next.

At a Korean BBQ you order your food, and then when it arrives you cook it on these little ‘hot stove’ things at the table. To me, it defeats the object of going out to eat and I hate waiting for my food pieces to cook, while I watch it ‘taunting’ me on a sizzle plate while I’m starving! It was nice enough (plus Pride were paying) so I wasn’t complaining.

The only ‘hairy’ moment was when me and my Mrs (who I call the Merlean) were fucking about. Every time she tried to pick some food up with her chop sticks, I’d knock it out of her hand (I know I’m such a joker!!) She thought this was funny the first five times, but I could see it was getting on her nerves after the fifth… so, obviously I kept doing it.

When I went to get some food with my own chop sticks (please note; I was doing this as a joke. I’m so bad with chop sticks that if I had to use them to eat all my meals, I’d starve) I managed to balance some meat on them like a true Ninja. As I tentatively brought my chop sticks to my mouth, Merlean made a grab for them and I, with my cat like reactions, pulled away. As I brought my hand back in front of me I was only in possession of my chop sticks… but no meat!!

I did one of those cartoon gulps as I imagined a piece of steak sitting on the back of Alexander’s neck.

I turned round to see a blonde haired lady looking at the offending piece of meat on her table. I put my hands up and gestured that I was sorry and that was that… Alexander didn’t even look up.

By this point we’d eaten, drank and thrown food around so we said our goodbyes and, since as it was NYE, went out to party for a bit. Everywhere was packed and people just wanted to take pictures with me which was nice but it sort of stopped the flow of the night out for us. Me and the Mrs were tired too, so we left the ‘night out’ behind and headed back to the hotel. By the time we got back it was gone half three.

Upstairs in our room the Merlean said “where’s my coat?” in a panic, hoping that I had hidden it under my shirt and was about to whip it off shouting out ‘SURPRISE, here it is!’

She had obviously left it somewhere but I did my part by saying annoying things like “where did you have it last” while she was ripping the room apart trying to find it.

After retracing our steps we figured out she’d left in the Korean BBQ restaurant. So, I went in my wallet and found the business card that the overly happy, ‘bowing’ Pride guy gave us when we met him at the start of our trip. Mr ‘king of bowing’ had written the hotel room number of the Pride officials on the back of the card, in case we needed assistance with anything. A missing coat was as good as any other emergency at 4 in the morning so I picked up the room phone, punched in the numbers and waited… No answer… “They’re probably out, it’s NYE” I said.

“TRY AGAIN” said the stern voice of a woman that was in ‘mourning’ over her coat.

I hit redial and waited. Just as I was about to put the phone down I heard a sleepy voice say “hello”

“hello, it’s James, sorry to ring so late, it’s just that my girlfriends left her coat in the restaurant, and we don’t know the name of it. Since we’re leaving early tomorrow, I was wondering, you didn’t happen to see if we left a ladies coat behind, did you?. It was black leather and three quarter length”

“What?” came the response

“A black leather coat that we left at the restaurant we were just in” I said.

“Who is this?” said the voice.

“It’s James Thompson, who is this?????????”

“Giant Silva” ……… clunk

I stood there with my mouth open, holding the phone trying to compute how I’d just been on the phone talking about my missing girlfriends coat to the guy I’d just soccer kicked and stomped on a few hours earlier.

He must really think I’m a twat!

I explained to Merlean what had somehow just happened and was met with ROARING laughter.

The only thing we could figure was that I hit the wrong number and by pure, unfortunate chance, I had got Giant Silva’s room by mistake. God knows what the chances of this were, as like I mentioned earlier, it was a massive hotel. For NYE, it was relatively early to be back at the hotel so the odds of misdialling THREE fucking numbers and ending up with Giant Silva’s room are staggering!! (Anyone that knows me though realises that the odds of me doing something like this, are actually very good)

The next morning we headed off to get our coach to the airport and who was sitting in the front seat? Yep, you guessed it… Giant Silva. He was throwing me daggers and I wanted to explain myself, but realised I’d only end up making it worse, so I used the same gesture as I did when I accidentally threw food at Alexander’s Mrs, I shrugged and moved on.

We never did find that coat but anytime Alexander Emelianenko fights, I’m always watching the crowd to see if I spot that blonde girl wearing Merleans jacket.

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Thanks for reading