K-1 and MMA fighter Mark “The Fight Shark” Miller is doing a weekly blog leading up to his miraculous comeback this May. He will step back into the ring for the first time in six years, and become the first fighter ever to do so after having open heart surgery.
What did I do in a previous life? Both good and bad, I must’ve did something. Pissed off and overjoyed the same number of people because the last 10 years have had more ups and downs than a high rise elevator.
I have found myself more terrified and elated than I would imagine some people ever feel. All I can do is shake my head and smile now.
Following a grueling training week, I found myself on Friday shoving a massive tire across astroturf with slips on my feet, clad in BAMF gear, while Steve Melero, my strength and conditioning coach, calmly insisted, “come on, keep it moving.”
Suddenly a man with a large duffel bag stood in front of me, and pulled out some Borg-esque looking contraption. I was suddenly being worked into something called the Mass Suit. An incredible training tool invented by Jesse, a blue eyed ex-NFL football player, he excitedly tells me about the suit as he fits me into it. Then he asks me, “so what’s the big story with comeback? What are you coming back from exactly?”
I tell him everything. The heart surgery, the loss of my parents and brother. I just spill it all. Jesse softens, he nods, he shares some personal hardship he has been through recently himself.
I am once again humbled by the closeness this newfound honesty has allowed me to share with so many other survivors. Between Steve and his incredible facility, Jesse and his fantastic product, and the coaching over the phone of invincible good friend David Buer, I am feeling not only strong, but superhuman.
Saturday morning I got up early to drive to Oceanside to spend some time with new friends Mike McLeish and the Headrush gang. Again, I was humbled by Mike’s hospitality, kindness, and the incredible like mindedness he and I share in regards to friendship and business.
I watched the fights, flanked by fighters and industry folk, all good people. Once again I was utterly impressed by Georges St-Pierre and the way he handles himself both in and out of the cage. I hope one day to shake his hand. For such a young fighter, he exhibits an elegance well beyond his years.
Sunday…..(expletive) Sunday was insane. I have been lucky enough to become online friends with a woman named Ottavia Bourdain, beautiful wife of brilliant writer Anthony Bourdain.
On Sunday, I drove to Santa Barbara to see Anthony and genius chef Eric Ripert speak. Following their talk, I was invited by Ottavia to attend a small gathering, where I was to meet Anthony and Eric. I was a little excited. The brash honesty, not blunted, but accompanied by a good heart in Anthony was always a thing I thought would jive well with me. I wasn’t wrong.
After a few minutes of mingling and nibbling on tasty food, Anthony’s eyes caught mine and he gestured vehemently at me while mouthing “get your ass over here!” Anthony Bourdain knew who I was. Color me tickled.
He asked about the comeback, and we chatted honestly about the fight, about Russia, about his fantastic MMA enthusiast wife, all the while Shelby stood, shuffling her feet and looking nervous, as she is a serious fan of Eric Ripert.
After chatting with them for a while, I invited him to the fight (should he find himself in Russia), posed for a photo, which he asked for (again, color me tickled), and shook the big man’s hand.
As Shelby and I were walking away, her glowing after officially meeting Eric and Anthony, a young girl grabbed my arm. She snaked her fingers around my bicep and stepped close to me, and asked, without an ounce of hesitation or apology in her voice, “So, I have to ask, are you famous or something? I mean, who are you? Why did he want to talk to you so bad?”
I grinned. Shelby started giggling. Here I was. I had arrived. I was instantly famous, and unknown simultaneously. Some nice young lady wanted to know me, wanted to find me important, because a man who does nothing but talk and entertain so many with his stories found me interesting, wanted to hear my story. It was so (expletive) weird.
I have no idea how I got here. I mean, I know the steps, vaguely, but really, it’s all because of so many… I tripped along the path for most of this. I could start thanking and not be done for days. Every doctor, every nurse, my ex-wife, my parents, my kids, everyone who helped to keep me alive, put up with me, supported me, or encouraged me to talk, to be heard… I am lucky.
And dude, Anthony Bourdain and his awesome wife think I am cool… How (expletive) bizarre is that?
You can follow Mark on Twitter: @fightshark_com