Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Spartan Race Experience

By: Dylan Smith

I recently participated in a 5-mile obstacle course race known as the Spartan Race which is known for its abundance of obstacles that include 6-10 ft high walls, cargo net climbs, and a spear throw to name a few. Oh, and there was some mud involved too.

(This is me nice and clean before the race)

There are three types of Spartan races you can do, with each one increasing in difficultly with more obstacles and a longer course. The Sprint, Super, and the Beast. Together they are known as the "Trifecta" and each include individual medals for completing the course that can be combined into one big medal when all three are attained.

(My medal)

The race in Houston was my second Spartan race, the first one I did was at AT&T stadium in Dallas, TX and I learned the hard way that there is a big difference between the arena race and the outdoor race.
The main difference being the mud, which was multiplied during the week due to the six inches of rain leading up to the race. This made the race almost un-runnable as the mud was so deep and filled with waist deep pot-holes that by trying to run you could almost guarantee a twisted ankle or other injuries.
This slowed the race down tremendously for me and the other participants as we were forced to take our time through the winding muddy trails that were flooded with water. Luckily, the obstacles on the course were able to break up the monotony of mud-wallowing and keep it fun.
(Coming out of the muddy lake)

The first obstacles were mostly walls to go up and over, then as I got deeper into the course the obstacles became increasingly difficult. There was a 60lb sandbag carry where I carried the mud soaked bag on my shoulders and completed a loop that included squatting under barbed wire while maintaining enough balance in the deep mud not to fall over. Another surprisingly tough one was the sled pull which went from relatively easy to very hard after the sled became completely stuck in the mud and it took me and another racer to pull the sled. There was also a small lake crossing which provided some entertainment just from watching the reluctance of the other racers to actually get in the cold muddy water. Other obstacles included monkey bars, a 5-gallon gravel filled bucket carry, and of course the infamous 20ft rope climb near the end of the course. I was able to complete all of the obstacles except the spear throw where I barely missed the target, and a crazy ninja-warrior type obstacle known as "the rig".

(Post-race bliss of completing the course and using the last of my energy on a victory flex pose)

Overall, I had a blast competing in the Spartan sprint and will definitely participate in more races in the future. I crossed the finish line exhausted but also proud of myself for completing the course by myself and with a respectable time. I encourage everyone to find a race near you, sign up, start training and just do it! The course was filled with people of all shapes and sizes, first time racers and veterans. The course will test your mental and physical toughness and will leave you crossing the finish line with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction!

You can find a race near you by visiting this link to the Spartan Race website:

"Don't Blink"
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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

UFC 196 Recap, Questions, and Reactions

By: Dylan Smith

                                Picture via @UFC

After a night where Miesha Tate and Nate Diaz were able to turn the MMA world on its head with a pair of stunning upsets, fans around the world were reminded that victory is never guaranteed inside the octagon. 
UFC 196 will go down as one of the best events in UFC history and has the numbers to prove it. Not only did the fights provide fans with high level MMA, but the night was full of captivating drama. 

There are many questions, reactions, and opinions after UFC 196. Let's explore what happened and look ahead to what's next for the main event fighters and the UFC after one of the most successful nights in the company's history. 

Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey III

Meisha Tate shocked the world as she pulled off a gusty last minute win by securing a rear naked choke on Holly Holm late in the fifth round. The victory earned her the women's bantamweight championship and has reignited the biggest rivalry in women's MMA history. The UFC has announced that Tate will defend her newly minted title in a rubber match against former champion Ronda Rousey. Miesha Tate is 0-2 against Rousey and hasn't lost since their last fight in 2013. Rousey hasn't fought since suffering the infamous knockout by the shin of Holly Holm. With plenty of bad blood left between the two and a built in storyline of Rousey's return with Miesha as champion, rest assured this will be one of the biggest fights of the year. 

What's next for Holly Holm?

Holly Holm claimed she is going "back to the drawing board" after failing to defend her title against Miesha Tate at UFC 196. Holm may have won the fight had it gone to a decision but a last ditch effort takedown secured by Tate was too costly of a mistake and led to her eventual submission loss. In the post-fight press conference Holm claimed she wants to fight again soon and get another shot at the title. With Ronda Rousey getting the next title shot against Tate, Holm will most likely go against another top contender like Cat Zingano or Amanda Nunes to fight the winner of Tate/Rousey. 

Conor McGregor lost, but did he really? 

After all the stare downs, smack talk, and middle fingers- Conor McGregor finally met his match against Nate Diaz. The submission loss to Diaz marks McGregor's first loss in the UFC and slows down the incredible wave of momentum he was riding before the fight. Admirable in defeat, McGregor never hesitated to lay it all on the line. From accepting the fight against a completely different style fighter on 11 days notice, to fighting at 170 pounds which is two weight classes above the featherweight division he is champion of, credit is due for never backing down from a challenge. McGregor could have easily made excuses about why he lost. Instead, he took the loss with humility and gave Diaz the respect he deserved. 
In my opinion, the loss to Diaz doesn't do much to diminish the legacy of McGregor as much as it may benefit from it. McGregor proved in defeat that he is a humble and fearless champion and will indeed fight anyone at anytime. Still, McGregor remains the ruler of the featherweight division and is it's undisputed champion and also has a realistic chance of claiming the lightweight title one day. The fight will reflect on his record as a loss, but in the eyes of many- Conor McGregor still came out a winner. 

Nate Diaz is now a UFC superstar

Nate Diaz has been fighting in the UFC for nearly ten years and finally on Saturday night the entire world found out who he was. Diaz' career may as well be attached to a rocket ship now, after defeating McGregor as a short notice opponent Diaz' popularity is at an all time high. With very few mainstream stars in the UFC besides Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, Nate Diaz can insert himself as a household name if he is able to capitalize on the momentum on this win. That is a far cry from someone who doesn't "move the needle" as Dana White once described Nate. Now, nothing but big fights loom for the younger Diaz brother. Dana White says the idea of him getting a title shot against welterweight champion Robbie Lawler "makes sense" in the future. Also, if McGregor is able to capture the lightweight title from Rafael Dos Anjos in the future that could set up a blockbuster rematch for the title down the road.  Nobody knows exactly what's next for Nate Diaz but one thing for certain is that the UFC has a new superstar on its hands. 

If I was Joe Silva I would...

I'm going to venture into fantasy land and pretend to be Joe Silva (UFC Matchmaker) for a minute and pick the fights I would make for the main event participants of UFC 196.

McGregor vs Dos Anjos (Lightweight title)

I think this fight makes the most sense for McGregor because he was already scheduled to fight RDA and the loss to Diaz was at welterweight so it shouldn't warrant taking the title shot away. Plus, for McGregor to cut back down to 145lbs after bulking for welterweight would not be in his best interest considering he struggled mightily to make the weight before. Once McGregor fights Dos Anjos win or lose he will be able to defend the featherweight title as the cut will be easier after first fighting at lightweight. 

Robbie Lawler vs Nate Diaz

I think that Nate Diaz and the UFC should immediately capitalize on his newfound star power and slot him in as the next opponent for the welterweight title. The division is at a stand still right now as a top contender hasn't been established even though Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson make great cases for the next shot. Diaz ultimately holds the trump card though after defeating McGregor. 

Holly Holm vs Cat Zingano

Holly Holm vs Cat Zingano is a fight where the fighter that is victorious would put themselves square in line for the winner of Tate vs Rousey III. Zingano hasn't fought since she suffered the only loss of her career to Rousey at UFC 184 and remains a top contender and viable matchup to take on the former champ Holm. Holm will look to get back in the win column and set up a huge rematch down the road with either Rousey or Tate. If this fight is slated as the co-main event to Tate vs Rousey the UFC will ensure a blockbuster event that will establish the pecking order in the women's bantamweight division.