We’re two weeks before the fight. I’m in my hardest phase of training - this is my last week of hard training. Then after I’m gonna slow down and relax a little just before my fight because the week of the fight you don’t do much. My trainer keeps telling me to not be over-trained and that’s my biggest mistake that I do sometimes. On last Friday on my last sparring when I finished the fifth round, I felt very tired, and I felt that I was a little bit over-trained. I start the week very hard, and have Nathan Marquardt this week training with me. So, I had a great training partner to prepare for the fight. My last sparring was on the Friday 7/6, the week before the fight. I did five five-minute rounds – very, very intense and the last round was with two guys who were sparring with me 2.5 minutes each, one after the other one. I felt I did very well, but my timing at the end of the sparring was a little bit off because I was probably a little bit over-trained and little bit over the line. In sports, it’s better being under the line than over the line ‘cuz when you’re over the line you don’t recuperate as well, you don’t sleep as well and you can get injury.
Because I felt a little bit over-trained, I took the weekend off. I went to the spa, a place where I can do a sauna and steam room and jump in ice cold water to help my body recover from all the hard training that I have. Saturday night I went to my house for the last time having dinner with my parents to see them for the last time before the fight - it’s like a tradition I have before the fight. I have to go to my parents’ house and eat a very good meal, because the following morning (Sunday) I start my diet, cutting the carbs down and the sodium for the weigh-in.
Monday morning 11am – we just arrive in Vegas that’s the week of the fight. And I’m very nervous the week of the fight - even though people talk more about Brock Lesnar’s fight and this fight is less expected than my fight against BJ Penn, I truly believe that’s what makes it even more dangerous. I’m training at night around 8:30pm because I’ll probably fight around that time, so I want my body being acclimatized to it. When I’m training in the room sometimes there is a lot of other fighters, so we don’t have a lot of room and my workout total is 45 minutes maximum. I hit pads, I do some drill on the ground and wrestling. And then some shadow boxing to finish, then stretching, then I leave…that my routine. I do it every day until Thursday night. The cooks that I brought with me, Ross and Jennifer, are making amazing meals and that helps me losing my weight for the weigh-in process.
Friday…weigh in day. I wake up at 175.5lbs. So I right away go and weigh myself on the official scale, and make sure that the weight is right and the scale that I got in my room is accurate and then I go in the sauna and lose the rest of the weight that I have to lose to make 170. It’s pretty hard because I see people drinking juice and eating in front of me, and it makes me very cranky. After the weigh-in, the only thing that I am thinking about is eating! So I go to my favorite restaurant in Las Vegas, with all my friends from Montreal and all my training partners coming in Vegas to support me for the fight. And I have a very good time. At night I’m staying at the hotel and I’m eating a pizza, homemade without cheese, made by the cooks that I hired for this trip.
Saturday – fight day. I didn’t sleep much because I’m very nervous, I’m very stressed - I sleep maybe five to six hours. I wake up a couple of times during the night because I’m very nervous. But right now it’s not too bad because I know it’s a normal thing. I decide to go take my breakfast around 10:30am (I eat oatmeal with banana and an orange juice). I drink a lot of water. After that I go and do my rehearsal in the Octagon. I go walk in the Octagon and walk around in the locker room behind to make sure I’m used to the place and I feel good when I’m going to be there and make this place (like) my home. Then I go back to my hotel and I take a little nap. A little nap during the time that I'm not going to be able to sleep because I’m too nervous thinking about the fight. But it’s still good to shut down a little bit and relax before the fight. At four o’clock I go back and take my second meal of the day. I eat always pasta with orange juice again. I eat a lot with chicken. Then I go put my suit on and psyche myself ready to go to the arena. When I'm in the locker room I find out that I’m matched with Frank Mir. He’s a very nice guy, I like him, so it’s very cool. So the night starts and we’re supposed to be the last fight before Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, so we’re having fun, we talk and making jokes between each other even though I’m very scared and nervous. All of a sudden, I'm starting to put my wrap and my gloves on and I'm not even warm, and when Michael Bisping got knocked out, one of the guys of the athletic commission came in and he told me that I'm next! I'm very surprised because I was not prepared for this…I was not warm enough…and it was unexpected. But I have to deal with it. Stuff happens. I guess it was for the TV they wanted to put the final fight at a certain time. So I walked in the Octagon…even though I'm not as warm as I should have been, I tried to jump and keep moving to make my body warm.
The fight starts. I have to keep my strategy in mind. Stay standing up, stay always on the outside, hit and run, touch and not getting touched. And if he becomes too aggressive, put him down - once he is down avoiding the fence because he is very good at getting up from the fence. So I'm very focused, the fight is going well until the fourth round when I try an arm-bar from his back and something happened…I felt my right abductor cracking…something went wrong. I hear the noise of the ligament ripping. I end up in my guard and Thiago Alves landing big shot on me. I hold his head down, I wrap his arm, protect myself and I make a prayer in my head: “Please God, help me to get out of this situation, I work so hard to win this fight and give me the strength to keep going and fight well.” I found a way to stand up - I pushed my thighs and pushing in his hips and I stand back up, and even though I'm in a lot of pain I keep fighting.
Round four, when I came back in my corner I told my trainer Greg Jackson that I pulled my groin. All of my trainers are very worried. Greg Jackson answers back to me, “I don’t care! This is how champions are made! Fight on it and hit him with your groin! I thought I was kind of funny (afterward) but it was not funny during the fight. The fifth round starts and in my head I have only one thing…not getting hit and winning the fight. Be able to survive and stay there until the end. The round starts and I tell myself if I only try to survive, I'm going to be easy prey, so the best defense is an offense. So I make sure that he respects me by using my jab on his head. So the fifth round starts, I throw a couple of take downs and even though I was in a lot of pain, I was able to control the fight and win in a unanimous decision.
When I came back in the locker room, I was mad because I didn’t control the fight and I was not able to finish Alves on the ground like I had been planning to do. What made me mad a little bit is that Fabio Hollanda, a guy that was teaching me a couple of years ago, was in a Florida training Thiago Alves even though a month before he was training with me at the wrestling club. I think it was a cheap shot and he should have told me. But I forgive him - I will be more careful with him next time. When I came back to the locker room, even though I was in a lot of pain, I asked my trainer John Danaher to show me what I been doing wrong during that fight to allow Thiago Alves to stand up so many times. He showed it to me, so like that it’s fresh in my mind and I know right away what I did wrong in the fight and I will never do the same mistake again.
I was very happy, even though it was a very hard night. But with the help of Jay Kiss and Steven Friend, I had a treatment and I felt a lot better after it. The swelling and the pain I had went down dramatically. Because of this, I was still able to meet my fans that showed up at my after party at the Foundation Room. This was a special event, because it benefits my Foundation, and it was very fun. I also met the guy who gave me my new logo, Raymond de Ramos, which I really like – thanks again to all my fans who support me.
The next day I went at a pool party at Rehab with all my friends who came to support me. We had a booth (cabana) and it was great spot in the place. I drank so much that I forgot my whole name. It was very cool because at one time, Thiago Alves showed up with his entourage and came in my booth (cabana) and drinking with me and congratulate me for the fight. I thought he was a class act and that prove that he was a real professional athlete and a real good person and a gentleman. I really appreciated it, he’s a great fighter and also a great gentleman, and we had a good time drinking together. John Fitch showed up as well, and we celebrate together our victories. Shonie Carter came a little bit later with a gold speedo and a hat and a cane dressed like a pimp with his cane. He make us laugh very much and as always me and Shonie had a great time because Shonie is a good old friend of mine. We had an amazing time at Rehab then I came back to my hotel…took a little nap of one hour and went back to a club at night called Body English at the Hard Rock Hotel. I drank so much that I couldn’t sleep at night. I took my plane the following Monday – when I got on the plane…I think I was still drunk. The flight went very well. People who know me know that I can’t sleep on the plane, because I'm always afraid of flying, but the fact that I was drunk helped me out controlling my fear. I watched the movie Shawshank Redemption - it’s very, very good.
Then I came back home, went to have dinner at my parents’ place and had the chance to watch my fight again. It’s very funny because when you watch your fight on TV, it’s so much different because when you’re in it, you don’t have any clue of how the fight looks on the perception of the people who look at it.
I want to thank everybody who helped me out for that training camp out and support me. Thank you very much.