A "Flash" back Feel Good Friday
A “Flash” back Feel Good Friday
By Hayley Bridgewater
Friends, family, and many of our ILP community will be heading down to Atlantic City in a couple of weeks in support of one of our own, professional MMA fighter, Jared “Flash” Gordon. Many of you may recognize him from the neighborhood, the gym, or the recently posted flyers on the ILP Event Board. I would like to share with you a piece I wrote for BORO Magazine last year detailing an inside look at the fight life.
Ask Jared Gordon for a generalized picture of his upbringing and it might sound something like this – New York City born, Roslyn Heights raised, fifteen year Astoria resident. Born to a Sicilian Catholic mother, English Jewish father, the middle child of three boys, Dylan, Jared, and Dean. A classic hard-working upwardly mobile New York family. If you dig a little deeper, you will find a tight knit household whose fierce bond was cemented by challenges brought on by arson, drug dealing, the peaks of a rapidly climbing career, and the valleys of debilitating addiction. It is a story documented in detail by MMA journalists, with content comparable to a film script; a story that many would have loved to write. But it is not THE story.
“It is a typical story. It is not all that unique,” he will say, with unconcerned warmth that contradicts the timeworn scars and steely eyes of a fighter. And in truth, he is correct. Addiction stories are numerous, destructive, and usually dramatic. But what is unique, what is THE story, lives in the here and now, the day to day, his approach to his life, his sport, and those around him.
I could tell you a story of an active and athletically gifted but directionless teen, whose career choice was drawn from curiosity about martial arts as a fitness outlet. But somehow that seems not quite accurate, for those who know him can feel that unknowingly, he was born for it. That somehow, no matter how the journey started, it was always meant to end up here.
A considerably epic set of attributes locked inside a compact featherweight powerhouse, Jared “Flash” Gordon.
Considered the “World’s Toughest Sport”, A successful MMA fighter must possess athletic talent but cannot be without superior mental and physical toughness. “A professional fighter’s life is very rough. I literally eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff. Injuries are an understood occurrence, and I have no social life; I sacrifice a lot to be where I want to be. I hurt my neck training, which ultimately led to my struggles with opiate addiction, and yet, fighting and my career pulled me out of that hole. If it were not for MMA I would be dead or in prison due to my previous lifestyle. It has kept me in line and given me purpose.”
Mixed Martial Arts requires adaptability, intelligence, an elaborate training schedule and many, many coaches. It is typical for a fighter to spend multiple sessions a day at multiple facilities refining the varied skills and techniques necessary for the sport. Jared spends a great deal of time at the world famous Church Street Boxing gym in lower Manhattan working with head striking/boxing coach Jason Strout, a man he considers his mentor, his brother, his friend. Jason has multiple world champions under him: Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam Mcgeary, bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao, and UFC fighter Philippe Nover. He does his grappling at Renzo Gracie BJJ Academy in midtown Manhattan under John Danaher. His strength training is done with Chris Carlsen at Iron Lion Performance in Astoria. “I cross train MMA with fighters of different styles all over New York, amateurs and pros alike. Anything can happen in a fight, so if I’m going against a fighter who is stronger in one art then I am, I will focus a lot of my attention on that art to fill holes. That’s why fighting is so amazing, you need to learn to adapt against different styles, which is extremely challenging. Its like a puzzle or riddle that you have to figure out. I prepare my best against each opponent and when it comes fight night its time to see if it’s all going to work out.”
Fans of combat sports might appreciate the draw of the electricity in the air, the sounds, the tension, the strategy and skill, but it always stops right there at the door to the cage. Only those that seek to embrace the pain, that endure the sacrifices, and live in the exhaustion, can truly understand the motivation.
“When they raised my hand after my first amateur fight I knew right then that this was where I was supposed to be. The glory and high was better then any feeling I have ever felt. Most people in this world will never know that feeling. Any fighter that says he’s not nervous or scared before getting in that cage is lying or something is terribly wrong with him. I have butterflies in my stomach and I’m very antsy before I get in there. I feel like I have to piss a thousand times before the fight happens. Pure adrenaline. As I walk out I see fans, friends and family, and the people booing against me. As I step into that cage with the bright lights shining down on me, the audience is kind of a blur. Cameras are in my face, and athletic commission staff surrounds me. I can smell everything so distinctly, my senses heighten so much. And it’s as if I’m at home. Nothing feels as natural as being in there, the canvas under my feet, the smell of the leather of my gloves and the Vaseline on my face. Heart racing like crazy. And across the cage is my opponent who just prepared for weeks and months to try and kill me. Many men have died in rings and cages fighting. When you sign the dotted line you sign up for war.”
Above all, the athlete must have an undying love for the sport. A sincere respect for its practice, continuity, and an understanding of the responsibility that comes with the opportunities it brings. “I love fighting plain and simple. When you’re deep in the rounds bleeding, sucking air, and swallowing your own blood. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. I know im very good at it and I’m making a living out of it. My biggest fear is being mediocre. But at the end of the day I want to help people, especially young kids and addicts. When I make a name for myself, I will have a platform and I can make a difference in the world. I would help anyone in any way I could as long as it’s positive.
And help he does, every moment he is not immersed in his own training, Jared spends coaching and teaching clients, students, and other fighters. His free time is often spent supporting the career pursuits of his fellow fighters. “I love teaching and coaching. Martial arts are what I love to do. So teaching and doing private lessons isn’t work for me. Coaching fighters allows me to grow as a fighter. You experience mistakes from a different perspective and you learn from it. When my coach corrects something that I cannot visualize, and I see my students make the same mistake, it all clicks. All of this makes me better as a martial artist. I’m a martial artist before I am fighter. A fighter only fights for so long. Martial arts is a life style. It is forever.
For those not in attendance, on July 9th, 2016, in a quick and spectacular finish, Jared “Flash” Gordon landed a head kick for a knockout win against Philadelphia’s Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison at 1:48 in the first round to claim the CFFC (Cage Fury Fighting Championship) Feather Weight Title Belt.
Just a month later, on August 6th, Gordon stepped up a weight class to fight Dawond Pickney, finishing him by rear-naked choke in the second round of CFFC 60.
“Flash” forward to the present, where in 2 weeks, Jared will be defending his Featherweight Title for the first time against Philadelphia’s Bill Algeo at CFFC 63. The fight will take place at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City on February 18th.
If you haven’t picked up your tickets for what is sure to be a fantastic night and a stellar card, you can still claim your tickets at CFFC.tv. Be sure to select Jared Gordon as the fighter that you are supporting!