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by Tracy Lee, combatlifestyle.com
Monday may 5th, 2008...
I sent of a text message to Naomi, Reagan Penn's girlfriend and my longtime friend from Las Vegas, as soon as I landed in Honolulu... I collected my things from the plane and headed to baggage claim. I had taken a flight from LAX to honolulu and then changed terminals to take an interisland flight to Hilo. I hadn't booked my flight in advance between the two because last time I walked right up to the window 30 minutes before the flight and purchased one for 50 bucks. This time when I got the to window I was told by Go Airlines that the price was 85. That didn't sound right so I got on the phone and called Hawaiian Airlines; Their price was the same. I walked back to the ticket window and purchased the ticket; the flight had dropped in price in that 10 minutes to 70 bucks... I checked my baggage, went through security and walked to the gate. Shorly, I received a text a from Naomi. "Do you need a ride? We'll come get you!"
The Go Airlines interisland flight was on a small puddle jumper; a huge change from the intercontinental flight I took last week. We took off at 7pm and the sun was just going down. There were beautiful colors strewn across the sky as I made the short 45 minute flight to Hilo; located on the east side of the Big Island. As soon as we landed, I shot a text off to Naomi and made my way down to baggage claim. She texted me back quickly, "on our way!" With such a small flight, the bags were there quickly.. I sat down on a bench and worked on my personal blog (www.mstracylee.com where I blog from my phone thoughts, occasional pics, and things as they are happening to me. It's a bit more personal than the blogs I do for http://www.combatlifestyle.com/words and as current as it can get...
They pulled up in a truck and I climbed in the bed with Shaunna (Naomi's sister) and Jason Parillo (BJ's Boxing Coach). The air was a comfortable temperature and the breeze was incredible on my face. Shaunna said, "I LOVE riding in the back of trucks! When's the last time you rode in the back of a truck?" I laughed and said, "The last time I was in Hilo, a couple months ago." They asked me if I was down to head to the restaurant for food, or if I needed to go get ready. I was in my sweats and a tank top so of course I wanted to changed. 5 minutes later I was changing in the parking lot of the bar as Reagan was running through it pushing Shaunna in a shopping cart.
I didn't figure that I would be celebrating Cinco De Mayo on a Monday Night in Hilo, but thats exactly what I ended up doing. We were at the only Mexican restaurant in Hilo and I was dying of hunger so I ordered chips, guacamole, and pico de gallo. After tearing through that as the group around me hung out and had a good time, I ordered a carnitas burrito. I was already pretty full so I ended up sharing part of it with Shaunna.
Sometime over the next couple hours, our group expanded to include Kendall Grove and Rude Boy. Kendall and rude boy hung out but didn't join in the festivities. Adam Disabato and Rafael Cavalcante showed up minutes before the place closed. We made a mass exodus from Rueben's around the corner to Emerald's.
This is where we spent the rest of the evening. There was a live band in the main room playing salsa music, and pool tables, shuffleboard, and foozball in the backroom where there was a jukebox blaring hip hop. I tried my hand at shuffleboard, but I really suck at it! Reagan took off out of the bar and Naomi grabbed my hand and dragged me out. I had the and drove everyone home in the truck that had no power steering. I wish there was any way for me to tell you of Reagan's words of wisdom because they were very deep and profound that night, but there were so many of them that I couldn't remember any... I parked the truck at BJ's house and Reagan, Naomi and I walked to Mr Penn's (BJ's Dad) house up the street. I took over Hoyt's room and sent him to his girlfriend's for the week. :)
Tuesday, May 6th, 2008...
I woke up at 7am.. Thats a lot better than the 4am time I kept waking up at last time I came to Hilo. I didn't have anyting in particular to be up for as BJ's training wasn't until 7pm that night. So I worked on my Urijah Day 2 blog until Jason and Elijah stopped by the house to grab me to go get breakfast at Bear Cafe. I got an awesome bowl of granola and yogurt topped with strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and papaya. Jason ate eggs, bacon, and an english muffin, while Elijah grubbed on salmon and cream cheese on toast and a side of eggs. This place made their eggs by steaming them on the espresso machine. Different, lol..
We went back to BJ's and had just missed him. He left to go get a back massage; he had been doing this almost daily at this point. Leroy was there making some food for Shae, BJ's girlfriend. I hung out and worked the afternoon away until BJ got back to the house; I saw BJ for the first time since I arrived around noon. "I know everyone askes you," I said,"But how do you feel?" He looked at me intently and responded,"I feel like shit.I don't think I'm going to be ready." He started busting up laughing immediately after he said it. With a twinkle in his eye he looked at me and said,"Wouldn't that be funny if that were true?"
He looked skinny. Not skinny, but a lot thinner than the last time I had seen him. It was a trip! He said that his weight was at 164 right then. He was real lean, but muscular. He was still having Leroy come in and cook for him multiple times a day and it looked like it was paying off. Speaking of Leroy, he came in and made BJ a steak and a mixture of brown and white rice for lunch accompanied by a side salad.
I took off to the airport with Jason to pick up Hoyt; He had just flew in from Orange County. We made a stop over at the Farmer's market on the way back. Since it was tuesday, I was surprised it was even open, but didn't complain. I picked up some apple bananas, avocado, papaya, and a pineapple. As we left I noticed that the sky was turning blue and becoming a BEAUTIFUL day. We got back to the house and BJ was eating his favorite, Poi.
I spent the rest of the afternoon on my computer until BJ indicated it was time to go to practice. This was to be BJ's last full on sparring session prior to his fight. Jason left a little bit before us to meet with all the guys. He wanted to go over what he expected to see out of them in their sparring session that evening. I grabbed a ride with BJ to the gym.
When we got to the gym, BJ took a moment to take a photo with some fans and sign a couple of autographs. I looked around the 14,000 square foot facility; the upstairs area that we walked into was filled with cardio equipment, free weights, and excercise machines like any normal gym. It was out the back door and down into the depths of the location that you found the TRUE MMA gym that was housed there. Downstairs was filled with a lot of locals whose faces I was familiar with. I saw Kendall Grove, Charuto Verissimo, JD Penn, Reagan Penn, and a ton of local guys; all were milling around the cage to see BJ's last sparring session. I noticed that the Sherk vs Hermes fight was playing on repeat on a small portable DVD player.
Rudy wrapped BJ's hands and used the time while doing so to gave him a pep talk. BJ and Dj both warmed up a bit; DJ jumped rope and started hitting pads with Rudy as BJ ran around the cage. Adam Disabato of MMA Authentics ripped BJ's sweatshirt off over his gloves, and Rudy called out some last minute instructions to both fighters as they waited for the bell to ring. DING DING DING!
And they were off. The two guys circled around each other momentarily before stepping in and engaging with punches. Although DJ was good, BJ was better and dominated with his strikes before going in for a takedown and then dominated him on the ground for the rest of the round. I could hear BJs team cornering through this first five minute round and when it was done, they were running into the ring to give him suggestions before going into the next round. He continued to spar for 5 more rounds switching off between 3 different guys.
6 full rounds. Did BJ look tired? No, he didn't, and his cardio seems vastly improved from the past. Rudy came in and cut off his hand wraps and then Adam and BJ sat and discussed the session. Adam and Jason both worked on stretching him out; BJ's insanely flexible as you can see from the pictures. We all hung out in the cage for quite some time talking before I hear Jason yell, "what the hell is a sulfate?!" and BJ responded by laughing. He turned to me to tell me the story.
"When I was cutting weight for my last fight against Joe Stevenson, we were in London trying to find water that I could drink; all their water had at least 5mg of sodium in it. I finally found one that had only 3mg, so I downed an entire gallon before reading on the label that there were 56.3 mg of sulfate in it. Stressing, I woke Jason to ask, "what the hell is a sulfate?!", but he didn't know. Rudy went upstairs to find out from someone else, but we ended up calling the nutritionist in Seattle. Turns out a sulfate is a salt of sulphuric acid. I started freaking out! I was at 158 before drinking the water. The nutritionist told me to not stress out, that I would make it worse although I was close to having a nervous breakdown. She told me to go to sleep and not stress too much. I told myself, 'This is a test; this is all part of being a champion. The fight is only a portion of it.' So I had to talk myself down and relax and concentrate on breathing to go to sleep. I woke up at 163 and cut back down to 155 pretty easily."
He was able to laugh about it now, looking back on it but at the time it was a true test of his mental and physical abilities. At that point, we all packed up and headed back to his house.
Everyone jumped in the showers to get ready and I ran into BJ's mom and dad as I was meeting up with everyone. Reagan, Naomi, and Jason picked me up to go to Naomi's mom's house for a BBQ. They had made short ribs, and shoyu chicken, mushrooms wrapped with bacon, potato salad, green salad and rice. They had styrofoam compartmentalized plates that made me feel like I was eating a traditional hawaiian plate lunch. We spent the rest of the evening there before heading back to the Penn's street and calling it a night.
To be continued...