The Circle of Death

Arron "Bad Man" Barringer

There is a tradition at Jackson’s. Every fighter, approximately one week from their fight, must fight a “Circle” Two rounds (at least) longer than your fight, with half the rest period, against a fresh fighter every round. You must endure. You must never quit. Today I had my circle.

First up was veteran fighter Andrew Wells. Great standup, we exchange. I take him down against the cage, land a strike or two. His positioning is solid and he is able to reverse me. I get back to my feet. We exchange. He gets the take down. More ground work. Round!

Thirty seconds!!! Breath, breath!

Gabe Greenberg (8-2) eyes me patiently, waiting to pounce. Pounce he does! We exchange punches, I land, he shoots and puts me on my back. Damnit!  I move my hips while he bangs on me. I return from the bottom, get back to my feet. I am able to work my jab against him. I still feel good, but he is fresh. We go down again. I finish the round out.

Thirty seconds! Breath, breath!

I look up. Crap. I see a grinning Ryan Webb waiting to beat me. I’ve been training with him since 1998. He brings it. An expert fighter, he is fresh and I am fading. We exchange. He wants to punish me so down I go. A flurry of strikes, I posture out of side control. We spend the next two minutes with him beating on me from one position to another. ROUND!

Thirty seconds! Breath, breath!  I need water. Someone hands me a bottle.

I take enough to wet my mouth and light heavyweight Chris Avila pounces, grinning. He is fresh. More pounding, but I am not quitting. I ignore the punches and concentrate on my basics. Hips. Posture. Breath. Move. Defend. Create space. Hips. I falter, only for a second, and he rocks me with a body shot from mount.  Again I ignore the punches. Two hands on the knee, hip escape. Hoger would be proud. ROUND!

Thirty seconds! Breath, breath!

Andrew wants revenge, and Andrew gets it. I won’t quit. Ever. The last round is a flurry of movement and punches. I weather the storm, moving my hips, keeping focused. I keep my eyes open… see the punches, look for the space, breath. Its over.

My lip is bleeding, my forehead is bruised. Someone elbowed me in the left ear and I can feel it swelling. My right eye is swollen a little.

I am critical of my performance. I do not feel I did very well and I voice this thought to Ryan Webb. He laughs. “Arron,” he says, “NO ONE does well in the Circle. That’s not what it’s there for. The point is to never quit, to take it and keep moving. If five fresh guys can’t break you, than no one fighter ever can.”

I smile. It makes sense. I take a ten minute break then Gabe and I get on the big mat to work takedown defense with punches.

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