From learning to deal with the press to dealing with weight-cut drama. Experience is what the 1st few years are all about.
Coming off December's highs & with a near perfect 'fight camp'...
"I don't recall the training camp, I don't know where this MMA term came from, y'know, 'camp' there's no campground, there's no tents. " - Nick Diaz
... we were all at peak fitness & confidence.
Not surprising to many, it turns out Lyndall enjoys attention & she's more than capable of commanding it. In fact you might say she has 'star quality'. First at the CFL press conference she stood out (you'll have to take my word for it) then in the articles in the Cape Argus & the Cape Times she rocked & of course she owned the Expresso interview (above).
Ironically one of her jokes in the build up to the Expresso show interview came back to haunt her during the weight-cut. A couple of days before the interview Lyndall received a list of potential questions & suggested answers. To the question "What are the challenges that face female fighters?", Lyndall was threatening to answer "Finding opponents & making weight while having my period"... you guessed it. On the morning of the weigh-in (also ironically the morning of the interview) Lyndall woke up 2kg heavier (did she breathe it in?). More on that saga in a bit, let's look at Lof's fight 1st.
Lof Schaaf vs Storm Bristow (MMA – 74kg Catchweight – Pro-Am)
As is often the case Lof's fight was only confirmed just over a week before. We had asked for a Lightweight match, however with injuries etc. this was the best available. Making weight, the lower limit, was a minor concern especially since Lof walks around at about 71-2kg & had lost a little fat during the camp. The concerns proved unfounded especially as Storm weighed in at the lower end too.
On the night Lof seemed calm as he warmed up. He was looking good & felt strong as I sparred with him. I could see the resolve in his eyes as he stepped into the cage.
The opening salvo saw Lof landing a hard round kick to Storm's shin. Storm winced, testament to the hardening work we have been putting in (in the 2nd round a dark purple 'egg' was clearly visible on Storm's shin). Lof continued to follow the game plan of keeping him at range with long hard strikes & footwork. After a few attempts Storm got Lof to the ground & had some sharp cracks delivered from Lof before he tied up & the ref stood them up. This was repeated a few times with Storm taking mount near the end of the 1st. Lof was able to defend against most of the shots as he worked to escape & managed to transition to guard.
Relatively early in the 2nd Storm clipped Lof with a spinning backfist . To me it seemed it had just glanced off & done no damage, however Lof confirmed later he was dazed & seeing triple at this point. As they say in Afrikaans "hy hou sy pose" & no-one was the wiser. It does explain the strange lunging stumble past Storm though... aim for the middle one. Unable to recompose himself Lof got taken down in spectacular fashion but his instincts kicked in & he executed a perfect GTFU. Before long though Storm had him on the ground, mounted again & Lof just couldn't squirm out. The ref stopped the fight. My apologies for the outburst Lof assures me he was in fact in trouble & still dazed from the backfist.
Lyndall Sandenbergh vs Megan McCormack (MMA – Bantamweight – Pro-Am Title Defence)
The video below has all the main card fights, unfortunately Lof was last on the undercard...
Back to the weight-cutting drama... Having had to travel to Seapoint for the interview & with a few other commitments on the way home we lost the 1st half of the day making the cut that much more difficult. We did what we could while preserving Lyndall's body as much as possible. When we left for the weigh-in we knew Lyndall was within a kilogram (scale variance is always an issue). On the way there we had her wrapped warmly & drove with the heater on to induce passive sweating & help the cut. Unfortunately she was 600g over on the scale & was given an hour to lose it.
Since it was very cold that night we thought Lyndall wouldn't sweat enough running on the road even with a sauna suit on. She went upstairs to Panther Fighting Arts who welcomed her warmly & got her started while I dealt with the 'red tape'. Limited in her options Lyndall ended up doing an hour of work her legs are not used to. While she made weight she was suffering from fatigue & cramps.
Lyndall managed to rehydrate reasonably easily but struggled to refuel with anything solid. Probably a combination of several factors. By Saturday evening she was well hydrated but fatigued & under fueled. In her warm-up she was slower & weaker than usual.
The 1st round was largely spent with Lyndall stifling Megan's kickboxing with the clinch. Lyndall spent a fair amount of time with her back to the cage, but was continuously striking while Megan tried to tie her up. It appeared that Lyndall was not only getting the better of the exchanges landing punches & knees. The few knees Megan threw where fortunately ineffective as the ref had to keep calling her for groin shots (a little disconcertingly he also had to warn her about fingers in the eyes & Lyndall had some scratches & rake marks on her forehead afterwards). About 4.5 minutes in Lyndall's strikes from the clinch split Megan's right eyebrow & the fight had to be paused while the medic stopped the flow. Megan, who from my perspective already seemed frustrated & now with the threat of a stoppage due to blood, came out blazing. Lyndall was caught off guard, hands down.
The success at the end of the 1st seemed to bolster Megan & she managed to stay clear of the clinch more in the 2nd. Lyndall who was fatiguing conserved energy by loading up & countering with quite a lot of success. However she couldn't move as she usually does & took too many leg kicks (especially from a judges perspective). Most were the loud slapping kind that make the audience wince but do little damage. In fact Lyndall's legs had a bunch of little toe bruises & looked a bit like a speckled egg shell. A few though did land properly.
Lyndall went into the 3rd round with the aim of finishing it. She attacked & got Megan into the clinch more effectively. When, what sounded like the entire crowd started to chant her name, I had to join in. I couldn't help myself. Lyndall was able to hold Megan against the cage & reap the leg for a headout-double. During the tussle Megan managed to position herself for a guillotine. Lyndall, probably wisely, started to give it up. I called to her to go ahead with the guillotine-takedown which when done correctly puts you in side-control, neutralising the choke. With her already having started to give up the leg, she dipped to secure her grip giving Megan the opportunity to jump guard & secure the choke.
Regardless of the outcome they both gave their all & are my heroes.