(Editor’s note: The author is a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. He is a special correspondent to MMADieHards.com.)
By Creighton Shively
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (MMA DieHards) – It’s Saturday morning, April 3, and I’m standing by for the arrival of some outstanding supporters of the U.S. Military. Mike Swick, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, and Ross Pearson are stopping by to visit our secure compound for a USO event.
We can’t thank them enough for taking their personal time out for us, and yet and they cannot stop smiling when they get out of their SUVs. Somehow these guys look more stoked to be here than we are to leave this duty station at the end of our deployment.
I am fortunate to be stationed in Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, and I have to say that this day was one of the best of my nearly 15 years of service. I’m a proud supporter of MMA, for personal and professional reasons. As MMA came to us on this day, I got to represent fellow service members and my friends at MMA Diehards and FightChix.
The morning started with a phone call from Pauline, our USO representative. Pauline let me know that the fighters started the tedious process of entering our secure compound and would be another 15 minutes. She then handed the phone to Minotauro: “Hello, brotha!”
“Hey bro, looking forward to meeting you,” I said. “Are you guys up for a boat ride after your meet-and-greet?”
The morning continued with very welcoming conversations and followed into some meet-and-greets and signings. Our team got to discuss the UFC and MMA in general. Some of our guys even got to roll a few rounds with Nogueira. We couldn’t get him off the mats. His instruction is nothing short of outstanding and this guy is a machine.
How much of a machine is he? Swick answered that with this personal blog posting:
Nogueira takes off his shirt and pulls swimming goggles out of his pocket! This was baffling considering we had no plans to even go to a beach that day. That’s a true Brazilian right there! He said, “I go to swim now,” and took off for the water. We literally watched him swim laps in the ocean for almost an hour before he exited like a Brazilian James Bond.
Rock Star Ross Pearson had just carried out a victory against Dennis Siver not more than a week prior in Charlotte, N.C., and already was flying back across the planet to show his support; a Englishman and a true gentleman. Of course Pauline immediately agreed, as she is English as well. What a great combination of people on a perfect day.
For those of you that have not had the opportunity to meet Swick, it is a must. Mike has got to be one of the nicest and most engaged supporters of the military, and has started his own clothing line in Combat Life, which particularly supports wounded service members. This guy had more interest in what we do than discussing getting rolled or knocked in the head. We couldn’t have been more happy to have him.
I had to get these guys out on a boat ride on one of our combat patrol crafts, which are pretty well loaded down with firepower. We took them for an eight-nautical-mile ride and let each of them drive. The UFC film crew loved it.
Swick had a grin from ear to ear the entire time (even when Pearson was driving). He couldn’t get over the .50 Caliber and M240 Crew Serve machine guns mounted on a 34-foot boat with that much horsepower at his fingertips.
All in all, this was good for both the military, the UFC and, of course, our civilian counterparts that make all of this happen.
Brad Blackburn, who is a longtime friend of mine, shows up in a few days with his cornermen, fighter Joey Guel and coach Carlos Hernandez.
I plan to show them a good time while they are here and will enjoy the time with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I have gigged a flight for Brad out to the USS Eisenhower, which is a Navy Aircraft Carrier for those of you who didn’t yet know, and am anticipating one of Brad’s infamous laughs followed by one of his surfer like responses: “No way!,” when he hits that catch line on the Carrier out in the middle of the ocean.
More to come following that experience.
Please stop by MMA DieHards and my Facebook page to keep up. Also keep an eye out for some great footage from the UFC film crew that was here. They interviewed me during the visit and plan to catch back up with me at the fight in Abu Dhabi.
I look forward to bringing more. I love my job!