Common practice in writing is to use the introduction to set up the rest of the story. We are flipping the script. There is nothing "regular" or "average" to see here.
We will talk about fighting and what may be the comeback story of the decade, or perhaps the year, but definitely the month.
It will be close to eight years between fights for 34-year-old Beau Taylor. His last fight was in Tulsa in June of 2005. He earned the Extreme Fighting Midwest Championship.
His record on many combat sports web sites reads 1-0. Most fighters will tell you their record is incorrect in these databases. As bad as accuracy is today, it was much worse during some of the no holds barred, Wild West days of unsanctioned MMA.
"I've had seven fights," said Beau Taylor. "That is a common misconception. My first fight was in '98. I've had three pancrase fights, but not in the (Pancrase) organization. I had four mixed martial arts/no holds barred fights and two of them I didn't even wear gloves."
He once wrestled BJ Penn in college. Another time he took on the Prodigy in a submission grappling tournament.
Taylor's former collegiate roommate Jake Shields continued the fight path after school. He became one of the most feared American submission specialists.
"All we did was travel around California and train," Taylor said. "Me, Shields, Chuck Liddell, Jason Von Flue, Antonio Banuelos would load up this Volkswagen bus and travel. Go crash on someone's couch. Eat Taco Bell bean burritos for 89 cents for our meals. Go out and train with these guys and party with these guys. We developed friendships and training allies. That is why I bounce around a lot in Tulsa as well so I can learn from everybody."
His first fight out of retirement takes place Saturday, March 9 under the COMBAT!! MMA banner at the SpiritBank Event Center, 10441 S. Regal Blvd.
COURTESTY OF BOB MCDONALD
"I've been to Clinch, Apollo's, Ghost Dog, The Factory, Eddie Bravo in St. Louis," said Taylor of his rigorous training. "I went down to Biloxi and trained with Ben Askren and Alan Belcher. I was out in San Francisco for a week. I've done it all in the span of five weeks."
It's been five years since he hit the gym on a regular basis. He knows what it takes to get to the top. He went from hitting the gym five times a year to seven days a week. It's about to get real.
"I train with as many people as possible," he said. "That's the way I enjoy training. Get as many different looks, as many different styles. I can learn tricks that everyone has for their own body type, body style, and what type of game they play."
His opponent is experienced. Michael Casteel has more than 20 fights to his name. Fourteen of those have been defeats. He is still a wily veteran and ideal opponent for someone coming back from an eight-year hiatus.
"There is something that makes this guy quit," he said. "He has 14 loses. Something breaks him. I just have to go out and do the things I need to do to break him. He is going to break as long as I keep consistent pressure on him. He is going to quit."
The lingering question is why. It is a question any sane individual must ask themselves before willingly stepping into combat.
Some fighters want an easy paycheck. Others take fights to feed their families. A select few aspire to fight for world titles. At the very least they want an opportunity on the biggest stage in their respective sport.
Beau Taylor is no different. Only he is very different. His famous, or infamous, if you will, status in the realm of MMA is poised to open doors quicker than others grinding on mats across the nation.
"I was down at Strikeforce partying," said Taylor of the final Strikeforce show in Oklahoma City two months ago. "I ran into an old acquaintance of mine in Shawn Shelby."
Shelby is the former matchmaker for WEC and current lighter weight matchmaker in the UFC. He recalled seeing Taylor fight on a card years ago in Arizona on the same night as Jake Shields. Between Taylor's in ring performance and out-of-ring personality, he left his mark on the UFC employee.
String a few wins together and expect a call from the UFC. This was the message delivered. The next day Taylor hit the mat and hasn't looked back. The decision was made. He was going to reenter the cage.
Time is working against Taylor. By his own admission, he only has about two or three years left before his skills diminish. A string of victories is not enough. He needs to impress.
You either love the guy or want to see his face bashed in.
Come March 9, Taylor will either be one fight closer to the big stage or back living his Ric Flair lifestyle.
You are either for him or against him. Don't be surprised if a litany of fighters calls him out if he wins on Saturday night.
To be the man, you have to beat the man.
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