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SUGA SHACK: Guess who's back? Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Monday, 21 May 2012 05:07

Well fight fans I am back again, just when you thought it was safe to stop looking at porn on your naked lady machine. No, this is not another installment of Diva's Dirt and no I am not anywhere as pretty as Andre.

What I am going to share with you this week is most likely the craziest week of MMA I've ever had.

A few weeks back I got a call from someone who I truly believe is Minnesota's most accomplished amateur wrestler EVER! You don't win four state titles in high school (the backflip after No. 4 is one of my favorite moments in state tournament history), or go 155-0 in college wrestling, also winning four national titles, not to mention the numerous freestyle and Greco titles, without being mentioned as the BEST wrestler EVER in Minnesota. In case for some reason you haven't figured out who I am talking about, it's Marcus "The Prospect" LeVesseur.

Marcus got the call for the UFC as he was prepping for an MMA tournament down in Texas, and he asked if I would help in his preparation and cornering for the fight. So I did not hesitate to say yes and we got to work in prepping for Cody McKenzie from TUF 12 fame.

Yes the very same long-haired, weird-talking Cody who caught everyone's attention that season.

Those who have seen Cody fight know that he has a very dangerous variation of the guillotine choke that he calls the McKenzie-tine, and we went to work on looking at some possible ways to defend against that very move. We put a lot of time into the fact that Cody is southpaw and locks his choke with a very different grip and that he likes to use his butterfly hooks to offset the base of his opponent and get their head down so he can wrap it up. We also spent time on being aware of keeping Cody flat on his back so he can't sit up to lasso the neck and to just NOT be on the ground at all if we didn't feel comfortable with the situation. We worked very hard in the short time that we had to prepare and I was blown away at Marcus' fight IQ and knowledge of MMA.

Marcus flew out Friday, and myself and Chris Cichon met up with him Saturday. For those who have not heard of Cichon, he is a stand-up fighting wizard who runs CELLAR FIGHT AND FITNESS. I was blown away watching Chris hold mitts/pads and discussing foot work, head movement and combinations. I have seen a lot of people hold mitts/pads in my time, but no one with the deep understanding and fluidity that I was seeing from Chris. We did two workouts a day for the next few days leading up to the weigh-ins, so as to help Marcus cut the last few pounds to make the 155-pound weight class. One round with Chris on the pads and then rounds with me and Marcus doing various rolling, wrestling and MMA drills and live-goes back and forth for eight to 10 five-minute rounds. The Prospect was the sharpest I had ever seen him, physically, mentally and emotionally. After cornering Marcus a few times already, I had never seen him so dialed in to what was approaching — the biggest night in Marcus' fight career!

Weigh-ins were Monday and we barely had any weight to lose, so we cut the last two or three pounds and got ready to head over to the arena. We got a SWAT team escort through the streets of Fairfax, Va., and that was pretty neat. We got to the arena and see that Cody is mean-mugging us at any chance that he can. Marcus went to the scale first and weighed in on point. Cody weighed in and started to walk toward Marcus for stare-down pictures. Marcus couldn't stop bouncing as the adrenaline kicked in. They did not shake hands or hug, a few words were exchanged, but after that, it was time to rehydrate and eat some food.

Tuesday when we got to the arena, the my butterflies in my stomach were doing loop-da-loops, and I spent much time trying to keep my composure. Marcus, who has been an elite-level athlete for most of his grown-up life, did not appear bothered at all. We checked in and had our medicals done with Cody in the same room, about three feet away. Again, he mean-mugged us. Chris actually waved at him and was planning to say something. But Cody ignored him and stormed off.

After that, it was time to start the pre-fight preparation — hitting mitts, stretching and staying loose and some grappling work. We were No. 5 on the card, so we knew we had plenty of time to get warmed up. Sharing our locker room with so many stars and their trainers was an awesome experience. Finding out I shared a birthday — THAT NIGHT — with Tom Lawlor was really cool.

Now to the fight!

We walked out and I could feel all my hairs on my arms standing up. We got to the door and headed around the ramp to our spot to hang the banner and the electricity in the air was damn near orgasmic!

Bruce Buffer left the cage and it was go time! Cody charged across the ring — we expected that. He stopped a few feet from Marcus — that was not expected. Marcus threw a quick hand combo and Cody charged in with a leaping knee.

Marcus dumped him hard to side control. All this was in the first eight seconds of the fight. Marcus held position well and as planned. As soon as he felt off balance or uncomfortable, he stood back up. Cody followed with a butt scoot and some kicks. Then — BANG!!! Right, in Marcus' baby maker! The crowd gasped with the replay as you could see in slow motion that the kick is as flush to the seeds as you can get.

Marcus took a few minutes to regain his composure and signaled to the ref he was ready. Again Cody came storming forward. He threw a head-kick that was blocked. Marcus cut off the cage and cornered Cody into the fence, where he started to unload some sharp strikes. An uppercut landed flush and either dropped Cody or he slipped.

Marcus followed to ground with some heavy ground and pound and as Cody started to work up for position, Marcus got a front head-lock and even secured a guillotine on Cody.

(Now in my head at this point of the fight, I thought for a split second Marcus was going to submit Cody.)

Cody rolled to his back and bailed out of the choke and rolled back to guard. I should have been SCREAMING at Marcus to stand up again at this point, but he was doing well so far and figured we would just stay with the flow of the fight.

Big mistake.

Cody sat up and got free for a just a second and wrapped Marcus' head like a hangman's noose. The crowd started to go crazy the second it happened. I am pretty sure Marcus could not hear any advice coming from the corner anymore. (That is one of the things you don't realize — how loud it is on TV when the crowd starts going nuts.).

Marcus did bail when he felt the danger and tried to roll out the same way that Cody did when he was in Marcus' choke. But Cody was very slick and hooked Marcus' leg in the transition, turning the choke into a neck crank as well. There was nothing left to do but tap out to the McKenzie-tine.

Marcus was obviously upset at the outcome, but he  handled it like the outstanding young man he has grown into. He even applauded for Cody while lying on the mat right after the tap out.

Things did not go as we planned in this first showing for Marcus, but he did sign a multi-fight contract and should get at least one more crack at getting a win in the big show. A lot of the guys in the back had some nice things to say, and GSP's trainer told us he liked what he saw. We are going back to work next week already as there is no rest for the weary.

Speaking of weary, me being the addict for MMA that I am, I ended up agreeing to work the Showdown at the Hyatt for Driller promotions — two days after getting home from the UFC, right back into the local scene. (I am the de facto corner and hand-wrapper for those guys from out-of-town who may need some help.) I cornered three guys who I just met that night and wrapped their weapons of battle for them. What can I say, I can't get enough of this shit.

I would like to thank Marcus for bringing me on this journey that will go down as one of my most memorable birthdays EVER. Josh Lebsock and Jeff Nelson at Focus MMA for allowing me to prepare Marcus at the gym; Chris Cichon for being a really great dude and a Yoda when it comes to the art of kickboxing; KO Dynasty for getting Marcus into the big show; RYU for hooking up some sweet gear sponsorship for Marcus and for making me look so damn sexy in their shirt on TV; and my awesome wife Danielle, for putting up with two screaming little girls and for missing Mothers Day while I was gone.

A couple of other small notes: I will be making my return to the 205-pound weight class next month at DrillerP romotions show on June 23 against Cully Butterfield out of Duke Roufus' gym, and I am very excited. Get at me for tickets!!

If you see me now, you may notice I have lost the long hair. I finally donated to locks of love after growing it out for 18 months, and 11 inches of my curly brown locks will now go to help put a smile on the face of someone who is fighting for their life to beat cancer. That makes me feel real good.

Also, I will be opening my own MMA and fitness gym alongside Elite One performance in Apple Valley, and we plan to take some lucky fighters and help them reach their goals!


The grand opening is June 16.