Notes from Team Quest
As Dan Henderson was working left-leading one-two-three’s on the lank Cyrille Diabate at Tito Ortiz’s Big Bear compound Monday night, it was clear that he was no longer seeing Diabate—he was seeing Anderson “The Spider” Silva. So was everybody, especially Team Quest head trainer Ryan Parsons who had a ten-mile stare as he watched Hendo perform stand-up technique. “Silva’s not going to stand and pummel,” he’d shout into the octagon, “Chonan stood toe-to-toe with this guy all night, and he isn’t half the fighter!” The fight is a week away, and the intensity level was dialed in.
Most stood in admiration of Hendo, while at the same time prompting him to explode his heart at that refined altitude. Trainer Darrell Gholar stood near a naked lightbulb with a stopwatch in hand, timing out five-minute sessions while Henderson worked over Cyrille with a series of hard punches, followed by eleven short hooks and three push-ups, then up again to repeat. “Get your money,” Gholar shouted, “attack, attack, attack when you’re on your feet!. “Cut me off, Dan,” Diabate encouraged. “It’s angles, it’s how you have your knees and ankles.”
Hendo’s apprehension and hesitation didn’t jibe with Parsons, either. “Don’t hesitate, Dan! Commit to a punch a go. Explode! Don’t hesistate!” (Observational pause). “You’re still hesitating! Explode!”
Meanwhile tackling dummies were set up in the form of Diabate, UFC fighter Mark Bocek and Vinny Magalhaes. Xavier Foupa Pokam and Gregory “The Blade” Babene stood in with light resistance, as well. They were all Silvas. Parsons wanted the Thai clinch from these Silvas, he wanted to see elbows and knees to emulate the Spider’s strikes, make it as realistic as possible. Pokam sharpened his elbows and directed them with more precision, and Hendo defensed these with shoves and tackles. Though he was battling stomach issues (too much fruit juice, he teased Parsons) and burning lungs and shoulders, Hendo finished out each session with a dogged willfulness. His endurance will never be in question.
Big Australian Pete Graham and Canadian Krysztof Soszynski also practiced MMA to prep for their fights, all occurring within a week of Hendo’s bout with Silva. Time and again Soszynski dumped the lug on the mat, and time and again Hendo and Company would diagnose how better for Graham to defend himself. Graham delivered a hot one on Soszynski, and Parsons exploded at him for losing his cool. “You apologize to Krysztof, right this minute. You don’t hurt a teammate.” Later Graham’s thick cranium crashed onto Soszynski’s brow. From a corner, a joking Hendo shouted, “Fugging Aussie! throwing head butts!” People were bleeding, and it smelled like a giant nutsack. What better than MMA training with Team Quest?
With the departure of UFC fighter/Team Quest member Chris Wilson, so left the resident cook. The new cooking duties fell to Darrell Gholar, the bow-legged former Olympic wrestler, and he had a chicken on the spit and white rice on the stovetop. “I cook, primarily, because I like to eat,” he said, without concern for the others. . . Anderson Silva will be in Southern California on February 22, working out at a gym in Redondo Beach with Minotauro Noguiera . . . does Spider not sound like a Portuguese Walter Payton when he speaks? . . . Hendo’s press day happened on Wednesday at the Murrieta Headquarters . . . after coming off the mountain, the light workout that Hendo participated in for cameras was like walking on the moon.
The Fight, a pay-per-view event (UFC 82), March 1, Columbus, Ohio.