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Friday, April 25, 2014

STOP!!! DON'T Tell Me Everything

I once lobbied heavily for social network usage. I loved the convenience that a social network had to offer. Staying updated with ease in music, film, pop culture were all benefits of having social network accounts and apps on my phone.

Now I don't sing the same tune… so much.

The only social network I’m currently using is Twitter. After getting rid of Instagram and Facebook I found my life has been literally distraction free. Call it a lack of self-discipline, but nothing kept me more distracted than “Newsfeed Updates” on Facebook. I found myself not even using my social networks productively. I was leaving way too many sarcastic comments on Facebook or snooping through photo after photo on Instagram. It was all pointless.

I’ve learned something in my month or so away from social networks.


Do you know how great it is to not have stupid Facebook or Instagram notifications barking at my phone every ten minutes?

For me I think my main problem with how social networks are being used now is that they are just simply too revealing.

Nothing kills a good movie worse than someone ruining it by telling you the ending. Once you connect all the dots yourself there really isn’t any fun in watching the rest of the movie. If you’re like me you will finish watching it simply because you will go mad if you don't. Even if you do finish watching, you will find yourself less interested in finishing the film since now the cat is out of the bag.

No other social network in the world is more like “the guy who ruins the movie” than Instagram.

Nothing is more annoying than having to hear about an experience you nearly witnessed yourself.

Don't tell me you went to bar if you posted multiple pictures of yourself at that bar. I found myself annoyed, and annoyed with my own friends. I would find myself saying things in my head like, “Yeah I saw on your Instagram. You know, the account that you post pictures of what you’re doing?” Of course I didn't, I always listened, but I found every story less magical than it could have been had I not been privy to so much information.

Even worse, on Facebook my account had gathered friends I probably wouldn't recognize in real life. Imagine being stuck in a room with a bunch of people and being forced to hear their opinions on every trivial thing in their personal life. I didn't want to continue my long list of already "Hidden" people, I couldn't take it anymore.

I realized for myself that nothing is more distracting than making social network usage a habit.

I’m a storyteller. I also like to hear good stories, but life in general is always better with a little surprise. Just like every other person in the world I also have a favorite book. Though even I can only read the book so many times in one year before it is time to put it down.

For now it's time to put all these social networks down…. all except for Twitter of course ;)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What Are Your Stories About?

A muse is something I personally have no experience with.

I wonder at times if the whole idea of a muse is a myth, but then again it's something I have no experience with.

The other day a friend asked me, “What inspires you to write, do you have a muse?”

“A muse?” I thought to myself, wanting to throw up.

“Naw I don't have a muse, I just try to sit down and write as much as I can,” I said.

A couple of days later I went to the beach with a buddy of mine, he went with a more direct question.

“Where do you come up with the ideas for your stories? Are they from your own life?” he asked.

The answer to his question is…. “Yes.”

Every piece of fiction I'm working on at the moment is a snapshot of inspiration from my own life experiences. While my work may include my observations on life my stories aren’t all necessarily about me.

Whenever I meet someone, or begin to get to know someone better, I batter him or her with questions.

While it may be important to know a friend’s favorite color, I'm more interested in finding out how someone thinks.

Like… What would you want in life right now if you could have it?

Who is the most amazing person you have ever met?

I have always been an interrogator of sorts. Stories make my life up, experiences have shaped who I am and emotions continue to allow me to evolve so I can work harder to be a better person.

My fiction is sometimes close to home and sometimes at arms length, but never does it fall outside of those lines. I am not looking to write about Russia in the 16th Century, because what the fuck do I know about Russia?

I may not have a take on royal families, but I can convey how angry I was the time a drunk friend of mine peed in my car. I can also relay in detail about how bummed I was when I was forced to spend my 8th grade spring break on crutches. The point is, I am not going to oversell a story for something it is not. I want you to get angry, and get sad, feel confused and shout things at my characters! ;)

One of the greatest feelings in the world for me as a kid, and even now as a reader, was reading something in a book that resonated inside of me. The way an author described the guilty feeling of deception, or the unwanted angst of having to do chores. The best feeling in the world as a reader for me was to be able to find out that I wasn't the only person who “felt that way.” Even if the person in the story didn't exist in physical form.

My goal today, tomorrow and forever as a writer will be to convey stories that produce moments where readers proclaim in their minds or aloud, "That’s it!"

If I’m successful at that, I can rest knowing that my contributions of self-expression held some merit at one point, even if for a split-second.

An Inspired,

Mark H. Montes Jr.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What I've Found Myself Doing

I’ve been torturing myself lately, amongst an array of other productive ways to improve myself.

My newfound torture comes in the form of great success, none of which I can claim.

It’s pretty sick.

I’ve been reading writer blog entries, two specific types of entries,  “How I Got My Agent” and “How I Published My First Book.”

I’ll find myself thinking during morning writing sessions, “I need a break.”

My break will consist of reading the brag posts/rants, while dying slowly inside.

I am still working hard myself to finish out my own stories, but damn this envy inside of me.

Luckily I figured out a way to combat this all.

A positive way…

In fact I'm finding a great amount of success each time I practice this “newfound” method.

It’s amazing.

Whenever I get stuck on something, or I feel like my writing/storytelling falls short I stop. I immediately stand up from my desk and take a deep breath.

I stand there allowing myself to relax, while letting the rising frustration that is blood pressure fade away.

After the mounting stress fades away is when the successful part kicks in.

Each time I do this, I rest my head on a pillow and what I’ve found myself doing is….


Out like a light.

No thinking, no restless pondering, just 12 hours of successful sleep.

(Can you sleep 36 hours in a day?)

I don't know what works for y’all at moments of despair, but if I could suggest anything it would be….

“Take a nap.”

Is your boss hounding you?

Ask for a break, and then do all the techniques you need to do to relax yourself.

Open your car door, recline that chair back and boom! You might just find yourself sleeping… ;)

Just make sure you bring your keys and belongings…. You know, in case your naps are like mine and you wake up and it’s like 11 p.m. or something.

Sincerely Yours,

A Delusional Mark Montes Jr. ;)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spiritual companionship…. My Take

As an experimental fiction writer (struggling to write dialogue) my ears are always open. I'm just hoping for any sort of help to make my own written dialogue sound as genuine as possible.

Rarely do I ever eavesdrop on conversations that actually have substance behind them. What I mean is that if I'm getting groceries, I usually hear the normal day-to-day chatter that seems to fill the voids in my own life.

Yet in the past month or so, while doing "dialogue research," I've begun to notice a common theme.

Shortly before my birthday I was sitting at the dentist for a routine checkup. As I sat there waiting to get my name called I peered over and saw a lady coming through the door. She came to the doorway with her head shaking violently. She struggled to open the door as she had both her hands full. In all honesty at first glance, she appeared to be extremely tired.

Now I don't claim to be the greatest gentleman in the world, but I like to think that my parents raised me with manners. Noticing her struggle, I hopped out of my chair and rushed to get the door open for her. She thanked me profusely.

“Wow a true gentleman, thank you so much,” is what she said exactly. (Might not be the "greatest," but "true gentleman" never hurt anyone right?)

“You’re welcome, I know how hard it can be with hands full and these heavy doors,” I said in my attempt to appear as friendly as I could.

I sat back down in my chair and slyly watched her as she walked to the desk to put her name on the appointment check-in list.

It wasn't just her head that moved, it was her hands, her body and just about every piece of her person that shook pretty violently.

I wondered in that moment, “why was she all alone?”

She finished signing her name and came to sit down on my side of the waiting room.

She looked at me, took a deep breath and then said, “I am sorry about my shaking. I know it can be distracting, you know they just have me on so many units of insulin for my diabetes. I just can’t stop the shaking.”

I wondered in that exact moment if she had been in my mind. In the most apologetic tone possible I tried to explain my sincerity.

“Not at all, I have a couple of relatives who are diabetic so I know how painful and tough the battle can be.” I told her this in my confidently informed tone of voice. ;)

Moreover, do you ever get the sense that sometimes you're destined to hear a conversation or you're destined to have one?


It happens to me here and there.

I woke up that morning and was not in a particularly good mood. To be fair anytime I have to wake up and concede four hours of the day to a doctor's office (in this case the dentist) I'm usually disappointed.

Yet when I walked into that office that morning I felt my whole attitude shift. I suddenly felt grateful I was there early. I was glad to know that come the afternoon my obligations would be fulfilled and I would be able to write without interruption.

As the woman engaged me, I felt this intuition pinch me and say, “listen up.”

“I haven’t slept a full night since June,” she continued. “My husband… he passed away in June, and everything has just been a mess. The diabetes is getting worse, I can’t sleep and I'm just tired. This shaking is just beyond embarrassing, everyone thinks I'm drunk.”

Death always arrives surprisingly and without warning when it's brought up conversation.

Doesn't it?

For a quick second I thought, “what did I get myself into? I specifically avoid situations where I don't know what to say.”

Yet what came out of me was the exact opposite. It wasn't profound or anything, just honest.

“I'm sorry for your loss, I can imagine how tough it is to get rest. I myself struggle to get a full night’s rest every so often so I know the feeling of exhaustion. Though I imagine the diabetes makes it a bit tougher.”

“It is tough,” she said sounding sorrowing. “I lived in that house with him for 28 years and I don't care what anyone says I know he is with me sometimes.”

She paused after this statement and looked at me. She waited, half-expecting me to give her an awkward look or to make a comment. A comment that would contradict the possibility of her description and experience with grief.

“That definitely seems possible to me. I think living life is all about accepting the notion, that things may not appear as they seem. I'm a spiritual person myself and I would like to think if I spent the better part of my life with someone I loved that they wouldn't just completely abandon me after death either. Even if that meant just feeling their presence every now and then.”

She looked at me with encouragement.

“That is so true, people don't believe it can be possible so they think I am crazy or they make me feel like I'm just sick and lonely.”

As she finished that last sentence my name was called. Before leaving I introduced myself and then shook her hand and wished her well.

On a day when I wasn't feeling too great she said something that made me feel better.

“It was very nice to meet you also, you have a great heart, don't ever change,” she finished.

I left the office later that morning without seeing her again.

The rest of the week seemed uneventful and normal.

That Friday, after failing to convince my mom that I could indeed cut my own hair, I went to get a haircut.

While having my hair cut I overheard a conversation between an older woman and her stylist.

“Yeah it has been different. I have my own room though so that is nice. I had a party the first night and had over 40 people in my room and that was very nice.”

“Do you have a roommate?” the stylist questioned.

“No I got my own place. It has been nice to be able to just finish something and read or do whatever I want. I mean Art never said anything before, but I guess the idea of being able to do things on my own time has been nice.”

As I listened I wondered how hard life must be to adjust to after being married for so long and building a life with one person.

“I still feel his presence.," the older lady continued, "every now and then I will be making dinner or relaxing and I feel him with me. I miss him, but I do know when he is there.”

Their conversation continued on about other less important things, but my mind didn't.

This had been the second time I had heard a widow describe her experience with her lost loved husband.

My mortality set in. Suddenly it was revealed to me clearly that at one point we will no longer exist in body form. We will eventually fade away. The people we are now, tomorrow, or any other day may be remembered or may be forgotten.

I pondered...

Someone could admit how much they missed their companion. While in bad cases they could admit how much they possibly hated their former partner. That's what happens after one person dies I suppose.

I finished getting my haircut, paid and left.

As I got in my car to get away, I imagined how nice that must be.

The idea that you love someone so much that even after death you would still try to comfort them.

Both stories seemed to point toward men who had definitely found their spiritual companion in life.

While the ideas of those stories are beyond comforting, I still couldn't help but remind myself the


Thursday, October 3, 2013

MLB Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) vs. Atlanta Braves (96-66) "Who You Got?"

Nothing compares to October. It’s the one beautiful month where Fall starts to overpower the heat, and only the best pitchers take the mound.  Playoff baseball in Los Angeles does matter. Yeah we have hot movie stars, funny people, and filmmakers, but we aren’t a Miami type of sports town. The Lakers are loved in this town and for the 25 years I have graced southern California soil they have always done everything in their power to try and produce a winning championship basketball team.
So it would only be fitting that the Dodgers (who are just down the way from Staples Center), after finally being acquired by an ownership group that wants to compete, start to do everything in their power to win a championship. Since taking over the club, Stan Kasten & Co. have done exactly that.

Once upon-a-time Dodger fans labored over the idea of watching left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA) win five Cy Young Awards without ever competing for the ultimate award near the end of October.

Now with the addition of legit No. 2 pitcher (No. 1 for many other clubs) in Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) the Dodgers, along with the great regular-season performance of rookie Hyun-jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA), have a formidable pitching rotation that at its core is an absolute anchor for shutting down hitters who aren’t disciplined… cough Upton bros…. cough.

Sounds lovely right?

Good, because the Dodgers will need every pitching edge they can get in this short five-game division series, where they don't have home-field advantage. 

Which means that YES Greinke and Kershaw should definitely keep getting hits in at-bats.

Now the Dodgers aren’t exactly facing a Braves' hall-of-fame staff that consists of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, but Kris Medlin (15-12, 3.11 ERA), Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA), and possible game three starter, Julio Teheran (14-8, 3.20 ERA) are anything but “mound-bums.”

All three pitchers are young, but all three have extremely good upside. All three pitchers have ERA’s in the low 3.00’s. They have all struck out over 150 batters, but more importantly, durable pitchers that can stay healthy and on-point are essential in winning a World Series.

Each starter has logged at least 30 starts, which means durability shouldn’t be an issue.

Now lets break it down….

My Favorite Dodger Pitcher In This Series:

Without a doubt my favorite Dodger pitcher in this serious is Kenley Jansen.

WHAT!?!?!?!?! Hear me out. I expect the three Dodger pitcher’s to be ready and on point in their starts, but how will Jansen do if he is beckoned to come in during the ninth inning with a one-run lead and the heart of Atlanta’s lineup staring him in the face?

Well since being named the closer by Donnie Baseball in mid-June, Jansen has been splendid. He recorded his 28th save out of 32 save situation on September 25th. Heading into the postseason with less than 80 innings pitched and an ERA less than 1.90, Jansen should be able to answer the call and deliver. He better at least, because if Atlanta is held scoreless for eight innings you better believe they are going to want to put one of Jansen’s heaters into the stands in the bottom of the ninth.

My Favorite Atlanta Pitcher In This Series:

I should definitely say Craig Kimbrel, especially if I am arguing that Jansen will be an important factor in this series, but I am not!!!! GASP!!!! Listen Kimbrel is a boss no doubt about it. In fact one could argue that he is the best closer in the game right now. So besides doing his job effectively, I don’t think this guy will be nearly as important for the Braves as Jansen will be for the Dodgers, especially in first two games on the road.

So whom does that leave? The unchallenged, well sort of, unproven(not his fault) Mike Minor.

Why Minor? Simple. He has a tough game to pitch in this series.

Win or lose, Minor needs to pull out a win for the Braves in Game 2 to 1.) Hold on for a chance to play five games or 2.) Give themselves room to breath by taking a 2-0 lead in the series outright before heading west to Los Angeles.

If Kershaw pitches a gem in Game 1 and the Dodger bat’s beat Medlin, then Minor will have to assume the “sudden death” mentality and pitch the game of his life to keep Atlanta from being prisoners in Los Angeles, as they watch the Dodgers drown in champagne, all while still having to pack and go back home.

Can Minor do it?

Honestly I think he can. Here is why. I am giving Game 1 to Kershaw despite the fact that the team is away. The Braves are too talented to get swept, and Minor is too good to lose Game 2 especially after ending September 0-4. Yes I am still picking this guy to come out on top over Greinke, because he proved this year he could push himself to the next level of starting pitcher, which is eaxctly what he will have to do in the postseason.

Minor had career-high numbers for nearly every major pitching statistic, which included games started, innings pitched, and strikeouts. This lefty is dangerous and he is hungry, Greinke is a great pitcher in his own right, but if Atlanta puts runs on the board early don’t be surprised if you see Minor leaving Game 2 in the seventh inning with a 1-run or 2-run lead.

5 Keys To Dodger Success

1. Kershaw has to be efficient enough in Game 1 and not waste pitches. This will be extremely important, because should the Braves and Dodgers see Game 5, Kershaw will need to be just as dominant in Game 5 as I anticipate him being in Game 1.

2. If Ryu does indeed make his postseason debut against Teheran in Game 3, he will need to outshine the other postseason rookie, by mixing up his pitches effectively and keeping Braves' hitters on edge for at least seven innings.

3. Everyone needs to stay healthy. With the roster being finalized, and guys like Matt Kemp (out for entire postseason) and Andre Either being iffy(possibly summoned to a glorified spot-right fielder and pinch hitter due to his own injuries) are huge spots missing in the lineup if not for their bats, but for their tenure and experience as Los Angeles Dodger leaders alone.

4. Everyone will need to stay patient at the plate. The three formidable Braves' pitchers will be looking to mix it up. Especially with the ball being thrown from the right-side on one day and the left-side on the next, making adjustments will be imperative to the Dodgers being able to successfully drive-in runs.. Casey Stengel was great at platooning his players when he needed too against right-handers and left-handers. If Mattingly’s lineup’s can stay patient and get on base the Dodgers can try to squeak in a run or two, when it's most opportune.

5. The Dodgers need a postseason leader. I watched Derek Jeter emerge as the postseason leader for the Yankees 15 years ago, on Thursday, the Dodgers will need their postseason leader to make his mark. Calling GONZALEZ AND RAMIREZ to the window!

5 Keys To Braves' Success

1. Mike Minor, seriously if I was a MLB general manager I would do everything in my power to get this guy to be my No. 2 starter. This kid is the real deal and I think he will definitely prove his talents when his number gets called in Game 2.

2. Jason Heyward’s energy spark. How many people have you met that can get up after getting their jaw broken? How about coming back to Major League pitching nearly a month after refusing to get your jaw wired shut. The Braves have some pretty good numbers when this guy leads off, if he can do it successfully, you may not miss veterans like Dan Uggla too much.

3. Brian McCann being both a threat behind the plate and at the plate. This guy's hands should be raw meat. Can someone explain to me why he is crushing the baseball with bases loaded? He has 8 RBIs and is batting a beastly .429 when the table is set. Be careful of filling them up and letting this guy take a hack.

4. The young pitching staff is at home. If they split the first four games, the Braves' young staff doesn't have to worry about facing off against the probable National League Cy Young winner in Blue Town, but if the Dodger bats have anything to say about it... well insert "Sherman Civil War reference here."

5. Make contact with the ball, avoid piling the strike outs up. This might sound basic, but when you post the third-highest strikeout figures in the league it's important to avoid chasing waste pitches from a staff of premium pitchers like the Dodgers have. The Braves also happen to be the only team that has more than two guys with over 150 strikeouts. Uggla and The Upton Bros.!!!

Dodgers' Weak Link

Yasiel Puig. 

Experience, plate discipline and team focus are three of the most important factors in playing baseball in the postseason. Unfortunately for Dodger fans, Puig has very little if any of those traits at his disposal.

Yes, you read that right, the rookie phenom is the Dodgers' weakest link. Anyone who watches baseball can voice their frustrations at Puig’s inability to make adjustments on the fly.

You don’t see junk pitchers or spot starters in October. You see the best pitchers in baseball and they all would do anything to get a batter out.

While his enthusiasm for the game is evident, his lack of having a true MLB IQ (which comes with experience, not everyone is Joe DiMaggio) is scary.

Be prepared to scream at your TV Dodger fan!

If Puig falls asleep on the bases, that out could wind up being a potential run, but be more afraid that Puig’s ego will once again aid in him missing a cutoff, possibly leading to the winning run advancing into scoring position in a tight ball game.

If Puig can play sound defense, stay patient at the plate and do what his team and managerial staff ask of him then he can definitely be a definitive reason the Dodgers find success, but if he deviates from those line items one bit, then, well maybe you will start to realize why he truly is the Dodgers' weakest link in this series.

Braves' Weak Link

A Suspect Outfield. 

What happen when your most reliable outfielder is a rookie?

I dont know I guess we might find out.

I think the Braves' outfield is going to struggle at the plate against extremely talented pitchers in Game's 1 & 2 and possibly 5.

Heyward is admirable, and I don’t blame Atlanta manager Freddy Gonzales, because despite his injury Heyward is probably best served being in the lineup somewhere for his sake and his teams. 

Still I cant help but wonder just how much Upton will struggle with his own plate discipline. 

Yes Evan Gattis is talented and he has definitely had an impressive rookie year, but not many rookies can hold their own in the postseason against a 1-2 combination of Cy Young Award winners, at any time will sort all of this out.

1 Epic Reason The Dodgers Wont Win

Kershaw and or Greinke get hurt. If any of these two guys go down, the solid foundation that the Dodgers were hoping would carry to them into the final weeks of October could be shelved for next season.

 1 Epic Reason The Braves Wont Win

If the Braves don’t hit, they will be severely tortured. Freddie Freeman is a monster, McCann is a banger, and Chris Johnson at third can all hit effiecently, but if they cant stack their hits on the bats of the other six guys in the lineup this winter will be filled with questions about payroll, underachievement, and solutuions to why the Braves keep struggling to get back to pennant contention.

Overall Divisional Series Prediction

So who do you got?

I have the Dodgers in four games. The lineups matchup evenly, and the pitching staff's look very competitive, but there is something about a team that goes from last-place to first-place within a summer. I don’t think that Atlanta will be the team to end their season. One thing’s forsure, five-game series can be managed effectively without much thought if your team is working right on all cylinders, but seven-game series must include both a talented baseball team filled with chemistry and a manager worthy enough to make his call and prove to everyone watching that is was the right one.

I predict a low-scoring series, with a lot of strikeouts. So get your pitching duel hats on, because this series is going to be a time tester, either way keep your radio's close and blast Vin Scully when “It’s time for postseason Dodger baseball!”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

[MMA FIGHT VIDEO] Bellator 99 & Justin Wilcox = You Got to Have Faith

Found this on Leg Thrashing 101 with Akop Stepanyan

My opinion is that “having faith” is something that can only be truly measured after a tough obstacle is overcome. What makes the idea of faith so amazing is that at its core it doesn’t really exist in tangible form at all. I can say I have faith in “this,” but just because I believe something with all my heart will go my way, doesn’t mean it will always work out in my favor.

On Friday September 13, at Pechanga Casino in Temecula, Calif. Justin Wilcox put his faith on display and proved to the entire audience and members of the media, that will, heart and unrelenting faith were what helped him secure a dramatic win by submission against the highly-skilled Russian MMA fighter Akop Stepanyan, during the opening round of Bellator MMA’s Featherweight tournament.

Two things you should know before you hit play.

  1. Justin Wilcox was notified of this fight six days before it was to take place. The fight was to be a145-pound match in the Featherweight division. Wilcox weighed 168 pounds when he got the call.
  2. The damage Wilcox takes in the first round to his left leg is unreal, but the huge kick he takes to the head from Stepanyan that leaves him cut had to be demoralizing, yet Wilcox never gives in and at around the 2:20 mark of the second round magic develops from unrelenting faith.

My Take and Commentary on the Fight

I love MMA fighters who have a wrestling background. I respect all the guys who get in the cage, but from my experience with covering MMA events, usually the biggest heart in the building belongs to a wrestler. 

I would find out  later on in the night that I wasn’t entirely right about that.

Two things worth mentioning after that clip, and before my breakdown.
  1. Wilcox’s unrelenting attitude is something people should strive to achieve. Here is this dude getting his ass kicked. He is on one leg, and then to top it all off his head has just been cut. All the while he kept fighting through the pain, despite his once blonde hair now being dyed red in his own DNA. 
  2.             The man is a man of God. Before the fight began, Bellator ran these pre-taped promos where the fighters gave a brief insight to who they were, their goals, and their aspirations. During Wilcox’s promo he mentioned God. He mentioned that losing over 20 pounds in six days was tough, but when he began to doubt himself it was God’s voice he heard tell him “Step out in faith with me and I will deliver.”

I love my God, and I bank and rely on my faith to get me through a lot of tough days, hearing something like this was extremely uplifting.

I don’t want to sound like a phony, but as soon as I heard him say this in his video I was not only captured by his extreme discipline as a professional fighter (I cant lose 20 pounds in a month), but I was also in admiration of a man who freely spoke about his faith without sounding condescending or rude.

The guy just sounded genuine.

Now a good storyline is only "good" if it resembles the product that takes place in the ring.

As soon as the fight began I felt cheated.

Here comes this extremely muscular Wilcox (former bodybuilder). His legs were bigger than my entire waistline, and his back looked as if it could shatter a hand, should someone mistakenly swing their fist at it.

The match began with Stepanyan controlling the action with these devastating leg kicks, that at times sounded like two wooden bats getting smacked together at the same time.

My disappointment only grew throughout the first round as I watched Wilcox limp and display that he was definitely unable to put any weight on the leg that Stepanyan continued to work to shatter.

I told myself, “Wilcox’s leg is going to shatter and this thing is going to be all over.”

The first round ended and my faith in Wilcox was nearly dead.

It is usually in these moments that I also concede to myself that I know nothing about MMA.

According to Wilcox himself, not only was he not worried at all during the fight, he never had any doubt, especially after all his hard work and his faith in his God. The former bodybuilder confirmed that he understood just how talented his opponent actually was, but his will to secure a victory could not be matched.

"I mean yeah, the fight speaks for itself. His standup is second-to-none. The kid is really tough, but you know I am a wrestler, and that is why we keep wrestling in the Olympics, because it develops guys like me, you know? Tough-nose-grinders that go to the end."

The end would be determined before the second round was over.

The second round started with a limping Wilcox trotting out to middle of the cage.

Suddenly I realized my hopes of a “charlie-horse stinger “ being the only ailment bothering Wilcox’s left leg was shattered. I didn’t even want the second round to start; it was almost as if I began to feel pain in my own left leg watching Stepanyan deliver kicks that resembled the accuracy of heat-seeking anything.

Nonetheless Stepanyan continued to target that leg, and when he couldn’t connect with it, he used his striking abilities to land tough shots to Wilcox’s face and body.

When the head cutting strike was delivered early in the second round I was all but ready to add some finishing touches to the outcome of a match, as blood poured down Wilcox's head, that by my eyes was nearly over.

I started the recap by vehemently pointing out Wilcox’s inability to defend against the deadly legs that Stepanyan used to nearly penetrate his shin, but before I could finish adding notes on the round, I heard the crowd start to make noise.

I looked up to see both fighters squirming around on the mat. Still unmoved I began to look at the clock to see how much time was left, when I heard someone in press row shout, “Don’t do that!”

I looked back in the cage, where I saw Stepanyan make one careless move, a move that wound up erasing all the physical torture he had just put Wilcox through for nearly a round and a half.

Before I knew it Wilcox’s bloodied head was facing my way as he locked in, what seemed at the moment to be, the most important rear-naked chokehold in his young MMA career.

I was stunned.

What had I just witnessed?

How did that happen?

Was everyone watching this fight?

Wilcox locked in the rear-naked chokehold and he never let go, more so because Stepanyan never tapped. 

The will to win was definitely present in both of the fighters, but Stepanyan's heart and will to NOT lose was something to be admired.

In a moment where it almost seemed like he (Stepanyan) knew he had made a mistake by giving his back to Wilcox, he didn’t let himself lose the fight without being punished. He was choked till he went limp and after the fight was stopped he was awoken by the referee, who delivered his fate, revealing what must’ve probably sounded like a nightmare.

I felt bad for Stepanyan after the fight. I watched him in the ring as his team and doctor checked him out to ensure he was ok, and I didn’t see a physically hurt man, I saw a man who was shocked and disappointed.

In that moment as Stepanyan sat in the middle of the cage somebody could have told him that he had just lost his entire life savings and I still don’t think that news could have disappointed him as much as the reality he faced once he regained consciousness

Moments like these, moments of true passionate victory and defeat are why I enjoy these brutal battles. You cannot fake being a fighter. Once that cage door shuts you better be real. Wilcox and Stepanyan... YEAH they are real.

At the press conference, the disappointment that seemed to overcome Stepanyan immediately after the fight continued to linger as he gave his account of the night's outcome, before answering questions from members of the media.

To his credit Stepanyan did train to fight another fighter and six days before his scheduled match his opponent had to be replaced (his opponent’s father had a stroke in Russia. I don’t blame the guy I would have been on the first flight back to the motherland if my family member experienced the same thing) and it wasn’t his fault that he was stuck facing a man with a lion’s heart and a lack of understanding for the word “quit.”

Despite the severe disappointment that comes with losing a fight, Stepanyan acknowledged that in the end, he made the mistake of giving his back to a wrestler.

Unfortunately for Stepanyan that one mistake proved fatal for his chances at the Bellator Featherweight title this time around. 

One more thing, Stepanyan’s humility as the losing fighter shouldn’t be ignored. The fighter showed true class when answering questions about the fight from his perspective, while managing to touch a bit on the difficulty of what happens when an opponent drops out of a fight. 

"It was hard for me, because I was preparing with my coach for the striker. I just know I totally made a mistake. I didn’t want to give my back up and so it’s my mistake. And good job Justin."

Clearly Wilcox’s performance in the cage was unmatched, but at the end of the night it was the words that escaped his giant muscular body, while standing in the middle of the cage, that reminded everyone why exactly we should’ve never doubted him to begin with.

"Mark 10:27 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible with God.'”