You would think that the big news in Martial Arts would be the legalization of MMA in New York after over a decade of struggling to do so. That is big news but I talked about that a few weeksa ago and didn’t intend on relaying any more of the message I already sent. So what was interesting to me in the world of Martial Arts this week? Well, it is a story where the video has over a million YouTube hits. It is the video of a 68 year-old woman who was approved and fought an MMA bout. That is crazy! 68 years old? Most 68 year olds have serious problems getting out of bed. While your average senior is planning her latest bus trip, Ann Perez de Tejada, the woman I mentioned before, is stepping into the cage and mixing it up.
First, the logistics. In February she put on her MMA gloves and fought her first opponent who was 24 year-old Laura Dettman by the way.
She was quoted as saying, “What matters is what you can do. If you can move like a young person or have the skills, then age doesn’t matter.“
There are people in their 30s sitting on the couch who say ‘I can’t play soccer because I am getting old.’ They say it like they take pride in it, but it’s a bad thing. If you think you are getting old, then you will.”
It was hard to find a fight for the senior citizen. The main reason was that her opponents didn’t have anything to gain by fighting her. It was sort of a lose-lose situation. If they lost, then they lost to a much older opponent which made them look bad. If they won, they beat a person whose age would be considered elderly. Believe it or not, Tejada is the oldest woman to compete in mixed martial arts, but not the oldest person on record. That distinguished honor belongs to the late John Williams of Canada. He was 70 when he competed back in 2010.
Before he passed away, he was a hero of Perez’s. She contacted Williams seeking his advice. This is what she said about that, “He told me, ‘Be prepared for a long and hard struggle,'” Perez said, meaning that people would make it hard for her, including not being willing to step into the cage to fight her for the main reason I mentioned earlier. Perez ended up looking for an opponent for about three years. In her own words, “A lot of people thought they didn’t have much to gain by beating me, but they don’t want to lose,” Perez said. “[Dettman] was great that she took the fight.”
The struggle doesn’t end there though, if you have seen all of the Rocky movies, you know that athletic commissions ultimately decide who can fight and who can’t with the issuance of a license that allows fighters to participate in sanctioned shows. A person’s experience, current health, skill level, and medical history all play a role in who gets a license. Medical tests are required and must be passed in addition to the history. To get the green-light on competing, the 115-pounder had to get approval from doctors as well as the Colorado Boxing Commission. She came up short in her debut at the Sparta Combat League in Denver, losing by a referee-stoppage TKO in the first round, when Dettman got in a full mount position and unleashed a ground-and-pound that would end the fight.
In conclusion to this amazing story, I would like to say that if Perez had a goal to simply compete, she won. If her goal was to gain respect, she won. If here goal was to get a little famous, she won. If her goal was to break a record, she won. I guess my point is, that as long as her goal wasn’t to win, she won. Weird to say, but coming from a former fighter, winning was not always the goal, just a great consequence to hard work.