01x04 - MMA Warriors

(Drumming)

(Chanting)

I just finished Grand Entry at the Gathering of Nations Powwow.

This is the world's largest powwow; over 75,000 dancers come every year.

And Albuquerque, New Mexico is the MMA capital of the world, which I think is so fitting because Native Americans have a long history of a warrior spirit.

(Chanting)

(Crowd chatter)

Sarain: I've come to Gathering of Nations Powwow to meet some of the people and talk about why MMA fighting is so big here.

One of the people I'm going to meet is Natay Carroll, who is an ex-amateur fighter turned professional fight promoter.

I'm really curious to know just why Indigenous youth and Indigenous people in general are so connected to the fight scene here.

Hey!

Hey!

My Navajo name is Na'at yilth chi'ini ya'h, and I am Navajo, from the Navajo Nation.

I was given a warrior name for a reason.

As a professional fight promoter, I've actually made it a point to go out into Indian country and find that talent.

Unfortunately, nowadays, you know, you have a lot of single-parent families.

There's no father figures, so these young men are in search of some type of leadership.

And nine times out of 10, they end up in a group of guys, in trouble, and then sometimes...

Down the wrong road.

Exactly. Shipped off to prison and stuff.

Being on the reservation, there is not a lot of opportunities as far as sports and wellness, and MMA has actually become one of those outlets that a lot of young men have become aware of being able to get out this aggression.

As far as the positivity for Indian country, it teaches a lot, a lot of discipline.

What do you think is going to happen with MMA in the community?

Wait 'til you see the first Native American professional UFC fighter.

When you see this youngster hit the cage, the following is gonna be phenomenal.

It is gonna be huge.

Watch this.

_

All over Albuquerque, New Mexico, MMA gyms are popping up.

I've come here to the Jackson Link Academy, home to some of the world's most prestigious MMA fighters, like Holly Holm, Overine, Cowboy, and Diego Sanchez.

I'm meeting with Greg Jackson, co-owner and trainer at what is considered to be one of the world's top MMA training facilities.

So the dorm rooms are actually over here.

We'll go through the dorms.

You have fighters who live here?

From all over the world, from every country you could imagine.

From Mongolia to Australia to England, Africa... everywhere you can imagine.

This is the common area here.

Say hi, guys, you're on TV.

Hi, guys!

And then the rest of these are dorm rooms wherein you basically have six, eight, 10 beds in there, and they all just kind of... it's like bunks, basically.

You basically sleep, and there's your friends, and you wake up, you train, you eat, you go to bed, you wake up, you train, you eat, you go to bed.

It's about your whole life.

So this becomes the world.

This is your world; your world is the mats and this place.

What kind of personalities succeed in this environment and what do you think it takes to become a professional fighter?

The type of personality that succeeds is very stoic.

You have to be extremely tough.

The biggest deal for me is how you treat your life outside.

I think that some people like the idea of being a fighter much more than they like actually putting in the grind.

One of the things I'm most interested and curious about is the attraction for specifically Native Americans.

What do you think the draw is?

I think Native Americans come from a very warrior culture, so this place is a positive way to kind of focus that energy.

Do you think it's harder for Native American fighters to get noticed or to go professional?

I think that it's a little harder for Native American fighters to do anything, because it's harder for Native Americans to do anything.

There is very real institutionalized racism, and you're up against... I mean, it's you against the world, especially if you're Native.

Can you tell me where you're from and your background?

I'm half Isleta and half Apache.

I get my Apache blood from Fort Sill and Mescalero.

Okay.

Do you find any connection between your cultural background and fighting?

Being Apache, we were a warrior culture and fighting is a way of carrying on that warrior tradition.

One thing here is you can't really have an ego.

You come in the door with an ego and someone's gonna put you in your place really quick, and that's a part of our warrior tradition is not having an ego, putting others before you.

Growing up on the reservation, there's a lot of negatives that people can fall into, and it's great to see so many Natives that have made it here actually being successful and doing positive things, and the ripple effect it causes.

It's amazing.

Very first MMA class, very first time.

Pretty intimidating.

Get the blood moving, ladies and gentlemen.

Get the blood moving.

Alright, guys, first one we're gonna do is our arm snapping.

I'm just cutting a quick 90 and snapping.

If you do it right, it should almost knock him over, so make sure you guys have a strong base with your legs.

He goes out and up, he locks here, and I'm gone.

Alright, guys, let's do it.

Alright, so one guillotine, one arm bar.

Each person does both moves.

One, two, then the other one, one, two.

(Chattering)

(Laughing)

Thank you.

(Grunting)

I keep hearing about this young Navajo fighter who's got the potential to make it big in the professional industry.

He's prepping for his first professional debut fight, coming up in seven weeks, and I can't wait to meet him.

(Grunting)

Good man, good job.

(Panting)

(Sighing)

Hey!

Hey, what's up?

How are you?

Wanna come in?

Can I come in?

Yeah, of course, come in.

I'm Sarain.

I'm Bronson.

And I'm Dad.

Yeah? What is this?

Like this, right? (Laughing)

You're Dad, proud Dad?

Yeah, I am.

Yeah, that was my upbringing, a lot of hard training with Dad.

And we oftentimes fight, spar with each other, throw each other, choke each other, so we get that like...

Yeah.

What is that...

What is that like, to fight?

We're really close.

Yeah, we're really close.

(Laughing)

Yeah, Bronson here has a fight coming up, June 25th at Buffalo Thunder.

Okay, so what does it mean to go from amateur to pro?

Like, can you explain to me the difference and what this fight will do for you?

This fight is like the start of my legacy, essentially.

And this is the first one, and there's so much at stake, you know, 'cause that record is gonna outlive me, or you, you know; that's gonna be there forever.

How old are you now? How long have you been...

Twenty-one.

Twenty-one!

I have a three-in-two record as an amateur.

These guys are training to smash your face, you know, and that's what it's all about, is for him to be able to, you know, understand this as a science, as a game, but then to also have the old mind, you know, that comes from our ancestors that says, you know, "This is what we're about.

This is how we proved ourselves worthy of... of providing protection to our loved ones and preserving tradition."

There is an added pressure to represent Native peoples, and show that we were amazing warriors and are still amazing warriors.

This is what it means to be a warrior.

You know, you're there to be able to protect, you know, a love.

(Grunting)

I never really felt like I fit in.

I go around town and see people, and I'm not like those people, you know?

And I've known this since I was really, really small.

So, I really do feel like I found a place in martial arts.

The arena, the... the mat, that's my centre stage, that's where I shine.

And that's really where I can truly be myself.

That's where I fit in.

Sarain: Bronson grew up in Gallup, New Mexico.

With 44% of its population being Native, Gallup is a border town to the Navajo Nation.

This is a place where you have to fight to survive, and Bronson is no exception.

So this is our downtown area.

Wow, look at this.

The signs here, pretty in...

Yeah, look at that Native dude.

I'm sure you know this, but outside of Gallup, this is known as Drunktown, USA.

For a long time, since like the '70s.

Um... I mean, I don't like it, but they're not wrong, you know.

Like alcoholism and drug abuse and stuff like that really is a huge problem.

Those monsters are running rampant out here, for sure.

The FBI recently called Gallup "the most dangerous city in New Mexico".

At five times the national average, most violent crimes here result from alcohol and substance abuse.

I really feel like the historical trauma has a factor to play, and also the boarding schools, too.

You know, like we've... a lot of the Native peoples have lost their way, you know, and... alcohol's there.

One of my buddies, we were cruising around one day, and he was like, "Bronson, why do you think that guy's holding a bottle?"

And I said, "You know what?

He's holding that bottle because he can't hold a spear."

If we did have a sense of belonging, or what we are, then we wouldn't be doing things that we shouldn't be doing, you know?

There it is: Indian Hills Elementary.

And our mascot was the Braves, right.

Oh no.

Right?

Did you ever get in any fights in town?

I actually got into a fight right behind this building.

And right here in the front, I got into another fight right here.

And the basketball court, got into a fight there.

And in the gymnasium, and on the field too.

Plenty of fights on the field.

So yeah, fights all over this.

So where are we off to now?

We're going to the skate park.

I skated a lot.

Do you still skate?

No.

You hear skateboarders talk about their battle scars and they're like, "Oh, I broke my arm like four times over here."

Well, I can't fight with a shattered ankle, you know.

"Skate at your own risk."

Skating's a big deal for Natives, you know.

It really is, all across the board.

It's nice to see some skaters out.

Kind of makes me want to get on a board, but...

Yeah, I feel a little empty handed as well.

(Laughing)

Yeah, yeah.

(Cheering)

Both: Whoa!

What's it like to grow up in Gallup?

A lot of people know this town as Drunktown, USA, but...

There are a lot of drunks, but you just gotta keep yourself busy.

Everyone has their own, um...

Their own way to relieve stress.

Yeah, relieve stress.

Relieve everything, you know.

What about what this guy does?

You know anything about fighting?

Fighting's dope.

I think a lot of people are into UFC lately and boxing, like...

There's a lot of Gallup fights too, huh.

One time I got into a fight, too.

I just barely got this tattoo and I got in a fight.

Oh, you lost half your T!

I lost half of the T!

One of the first fights I ever saw was actually here.

Really?

Yeah.

The fight I'm watching happen right here in the half-pipe that we're sitting in, and it's just a rite of passage to fight at the skate park.

It's just another day in Gallup.

Whoa!

Oh!

Whoa, right to the face.

That's how Gallup does.

(Laughing)

Seeing Bronson's hometown helps me understand how much fighting has been a part of his life.

Bronson has weeks of intense training ahead of him in preparation for his first pro fight.

But all over the southwest, young Native fighters are flocking to MMA gyms.

And while most of them hope to turn pro, many amateur fighters have to work day jobs just to support their training.

I'm here at Greenhouse in Flagstaff.

I'm about to meet Chris Hardeen.

He's an amateur MMA fighter, and he works here during the day.

This is a medical marijuana dispensary and a big part of his life, as I understand.

Welcome to Greenhouse, my name is Chris.

Hey, I'm Sarain.

It's good to meet you.

Good to meet you, too.

Well, come in.

Okay.

Starting out here, I started as a patient.

I just recently got out of the Marine Corps, and shortly after that obtained my medical card.

I was also in the spot of trying to stop drinking, also.

Can I ask you what you love most about this world?

It's really inspiring to see a lot of the patients that come in.

You can visually see that it's helping them.

There's so much around me.

I totally am so curious about this.

The edibles?

Yeah. (Laughing)

Are you able to use all this stuff and still train?

When I go running, I'll smoke before I go for a run, eat some edibles. That way the start of things I always feel is the roughest on me, so I'll have that nice high going and then afterwards, a few miles down the road, I mean, I feel that edible kick into my system and then I just get that really nice high feeling again and I just keep going.

And I feel like it kind of turns into like a creative-type run.

Creative-type run, I like it.

When Chris was in high school, he suffered a traumatic head injury.

I was fourteen when it happened.

I was playing football at the time.

I was the quarterback, and through that I took an extremely hard hit, and I believe I was out for about a week.

I don't remember the whole event happening, but like when I woke up, I thought my parents were the doctors.

Just no memories, no nothing.

When I talk to my family, they tell me that my entire life, even before the accident, I've always been...

I've always talked about the military.

And finally, being persistent, I was able to get into the Marines.

What was Chris like after his accident?

A whole different person came back.

Ah...

He couldn't remember friends, family members.

It was difficult for him because he would just sit in his room.

How did you feel about Chris going into the Marines?

I begged him not to go because neurologists, the doctors, they all told him if he bumps his head, he could become a vegetable.

Chris has expressed to us his goal is to become a professional MMA fighter.

How do you feel about that?

I was really afraid of that.

Somehow he get... hits is head, or they hit him too hard, then... that's it.

Because of the head injury, talking with my psychologist and neurologist, in my brain there's an emotional disconnect.

I mean, yes, I get the basic feelings like anger, sadness, happiness, and whatnot.

But when it comes to more subtle emotions, I didn't really have.

A lot of people describe when you hug your mom, you feel this love, this bond.

And I know without a doubt that my parents love me, but when I hug my parents I don't quite feel that.

Chris was honorably discharged from the military after he developed PTSD while serving as a marine.

He used alcohol to deal with anxiety and depression related to his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and he used fighting as a way to express his anger.

However, as he progressed in his training, he learned to connect with his traditions, and this helped him to relearn who he is.

When did you first meet Chris, and how did you start working with him?

He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, and he came in, found out that he had a head injury, and it changed him.

His ability to sense things is a little than most people.

And he had been here for one month and then another gym locally brought in their team of Thai fighters, so he ended up sparring a guy that only was supposed to have a short amount of experience.

And the gentleman ended up breaking Chris' nose, even after I asked him to stop three times.

After the fight, we found out that the gentleman is a titled Thai fighter.

Finding this out, Chris made his mind up that he didn't think it was right somebody who was close to being a professional should fight somebody with a month of experience that way.

And so he made up his mind that he wants to fight this guy later, he wants to take his title from him.

What stands out to you about Chris as a fighter?

I've had a lot of students over the years, and most students will practice for a short amount of time and then stop, and ask you what else do they need to do.

Chris continuously practices the same thing until I have to tell him to stop.

What are the challenges that you think Chris needs to overcome to continue fighting?

Keeping his head clear 'cause he has a daughter.

That's his main priority right now.

Pascal, what do you think is next for Chris, and how far off do you think he is from taking that guy's title?

If we continue going where we're going, I think it'll probably happen within the year.

But he lets his fears get to him.

His PTSD comes out every now and then.

And that's why I'm waiting.

Sarain: Chris is taking me to his family's ranch.

This is a place where he grew up going to, and helping herd the cattle, and work with the horses, and it's a place where he finds peace; a sanctuary.

What are we on our way to do now?

Well, they're gonna rope up one of our calves; we're gonna do some branding.

So we're just gonna set up here.

Does it hurt them though?

Yeah, I would say it hurt.

Yeah?

(Flame roaring)

So red hot, that's what we're waiting for?

Yes, better to be red hot.

Here come Dan and Dean.

(Flame roaring)

(Mooing)

Here we go.

(Mooing)

We're just gonna go right in here.

Okay, you show me what to do.

Where do I hold it, right here?

Now try and rotate it a little bit.

(Mooing)

And just like that...

It's all done.

That's super intense, but way, way less painful that I thought.

You know, we have no cell service out here. It's pretty desolate.

What exactly is it that makes it so special?

It's the energy that I feel while I'm here.

We're out in the middle of nowhere, constantly with the horses, constantly with cattle, the dogs are always having a great time.

I haven't found anywhere else like it.

Have you told your daughter about this place?

I've told her a lot of stories of this place, actually.

Yeah?

Once we get to the point of her willing to travel with me, oh my gosh, it's gonna be a whole different story.

But for me, this is definitely my Fortress of Solitude.

Due to his time spent overseas, Chris has been estranged from his young daughter for most of her life. But recently, he has been working to build their relationship and strengthen his family connections.

Ready?

I think they like it here just as much as you do.

This place really balances me out.

And then just the support of my grandparents. I mean, they've been there my entire life.

Because my memory was taken away, I think that also creates a certain longing to have memories with my family.

And because I know how fast memories can be stripped away, if I don't have those memories, at least my family will have those memories, and they'll fill me in if I was to forget.

Right now, I think of my daughter a lot.

Emmy, without a doubt, is the first real connection that I've ever had.

This bracelet was something that... like she made herself, and it was in the moment that she was handing to me that we touched hands.

Right at that moment, this energy just shot through me.

It's everything I've been told my entire life that people feel, and finally I felt it.

The Navajo have always been renowned for their fighting spirit.

As Navajo men, both Chris and Bronson have connected to their ancestry through modern ways of combat.

I'm traveling with Bronson and Reggie to Canyon de Chelly, a strategic place of battle and protection for the Navajo people.

I love driving through Navajo land.

What sets Navajo fighters apart is their connection to ceremony and their connection to Nayee eji, "the warrior way".

Reggie is bringing Bronson to the canyon not only to train, but to perform a cleansing ceremony that will rid him of any negative thoughts.

These kinds of rituals are ones that warriors have been undertaking for centuries to prepare for battle.

It is important for us to be able to do these things so that we maintain and hold onto our traditions.

We have to make efforts because these things don't just preserve themselves; we have to have the discipline.

(Sighing)

Wow.

Spectacular.

Some webs shining around.

What did they do with those spider webs?

For a female baby, they would rub a spider web on the arm and hands to ensure that she'd be an excellent weaver.

That's right.

Whoa, look at that!

(Sighing)

It was the medicine inside the arrowhead that's wrapped.

The evil can... any negativity, right, in your head...

Tip of your mouth...

(Blowing)

Away from you.

Only left with goodness, beauty, and power.

Ready to train a little bit?

Let's do it.

Alright, son.

Want you to work on your foot work again.

So I understand that this canyon is very sacred to the Navajo people, and also there's a complex history here. Can you tell me more about that?

There are ruins all along the cliff sides, you know, ancient Anasazi ruins from the people here before.

The people back in the day would come to find safety, refuge against invaders because it's a labyrinth.

This marks the spot where Kit Carson rounded up a lot of the Native people, and it was from here that they began the long walk.

The Navajo were known as strong and fierce warriors.

But at the end of the Civil War, in the army's scorched-earth campaign, Colonel Kit Carson rounded up thousands of the Navajo and marched them at gunpoint to the Bosque Redondo Concentration Camp, where many of them died.

In 1868, after four years of imprisonment, they were finally allowed to return to their lands, an area that many Americans considered to be a desert wasteland.

They arrived home to find that their land had been reduced to one tenth of its original size.

This will forever be referred to as "The Long Walk of the Navajo".

And so, yeah, we were brought literally to the brink of extinction.

Despite all of these... horrible events and these traumatic events, despite all of the hatred and genocide and all this ugliness, we're still here, and we're resilient.

Being a warrior is doing what has to be done.

Whatever you're doing to provide for your family, it doesn't necessarily matter how you get it done or what you do, as long as you do it to make sure everyone's safe and well.

And that, to me, is being a warrior.

Sarain: No matter where you go in the southwest, you'll see jewelry stores and turquoise shops.

But what people don't realize is that when the Navajos were pushed to the brink of extinction, their culture was almost lost forever.

So Bronson is taking me to meet his grandfather so he can show me how they're keeping these traditions alive.

I kind of view like my grandpa and my dad as like... older versions of me.

And so like I'm the new version who gets to learn from them.

Do you spend a lot of time with your grandparents?

Since I moved to Albuquerque, not so much, you know.

But whenever I am here, I like to visit my grandpa, talk with him, and oftentimes we'll make jewelry together.

Your grandpa makes jewelry?

Yes, yeah.

He's a silversmith, he's amazing.

What you working on there?

A sketch of a bird.

Dang, this is sick, Grandpa!

(Laughing)

You need to have the sand nice and warm because the silver solidifies fast, and you need to have it fluid.

What I do is I pack it first, and then I'll put the object in, and then place over it, put the frame on around it, and then pack it.

Do it real good.

And there you have it.

Boom.

Alright.

Alright.

Cool, let's turn the propane on.

(Flame roaring)

I don't have an earplug for you, so...

You're good.

(Flame roaring)

(Clanging)

There you are.

Right on.

The medallion is Nayee eji.

That's about it.

Nayee eji and Hozhonji, the protector way and the beauty way, are two fundamental concepts that the Navajo people live by.

And I'm going to speak with Bronson's grandfather to receive those teachings for myself.

Bronson's told me a lot about his culture and the way he trains, and the Navajo tradition of the beauty way and the protector way keeps coming up, and...

I was wondering if you could tell me what that means?

There are certain values in principle that I live by, and I pass it on to my son, and my grandson, he's now picking it up.

(Speaking Navajo)

As we travel this life, may I walk in peace, serenity before me, tranquility behind me, and harmony about me.

And this is what (Navajo word) is, and that's what the ceremony is really about.

Part of it is preparation, you know, for Bronson.

Win or lose, the sportsmanship, how he displays that sportsmanship will be the glory.

Protection ceremonies, especially the blessings way, were often used for Navajo warriors going to war.

Ceremonies help restore harmony, and both Chris and Bronson's families have organized a blessing to prepare them for their upcoming fights.

Not only to prepare their bodies and their minds, but their spirits; to help them fulfill all the things that they've been working so hard for.

So we're on the Navajo Nation.

Pretty far off the... off the main track.

What is this place?

My grandmother's land.

She taught our entire family the traditions.

Coming here, I get filled by the spirits of my ancestors.

(Chanting)

Okay, Chris, you did good.

The prayer we did is part of our creation.

When I pray, it's like a thousand years of wisdom flowing through the mouth.

I love this because it's... it's timeless, you know.

Like this has been happening for who knows how long.

A lot of the ceremony was in Navajo.

Can you explain to me sort of what it meant to have this, these points on you touched, and the corn?

Well, corn pollen is like a medicine that we use for all sorts of things.

Offerings, that's what we use to pray in the morning.

And the reason we... we had this ceremony was pretty much for mental preparation, and to rid of any ill thoughts or negativity so that I can just focus on the mission, you know.

I see the whole picture, you know, of your... of your training, and what you do to prepare, and it makes it... just makes it all real for me.

I'm really happy that you got to be a part of this.

Most of the time, it is just he and I that do most of the preparations before battle.

All of these steps and procedures are very much necessary for my mind, spirit, and body to be in proper alignment, along with the training, you know. Like once the mental and spiritual component are taken care of, now it's just... it's easy work now with the physical.

When you were younger, did you always feel a deep connection to ceremony, or is that something that's happened... more in recent years?

Definitely when I was younger I had a deeper connection to it.

Somewhere along the way I picked up the notion that I didn't need it, and I think it was... just all that bad influence, it was just covering it all up.

But...

I mean now, now it's... I'm digging my way out.

(Sheep bleating)

(Laughing) Yeah?

Here are all these guys.

Hello!

(Bleating)

(Dogs barking)

(Sheep bleating)

Oh no!

(Gasping)

(Bleating)

Chris?

How do we get the sheep back?

Alright, so now we're gonna have to circle around, so...

(Laughing)

We're gonna have to herd them back.

Hey, hey, hey!

Come on!

(Laughing)

(Sheep bleating)

Ch-ch-ch!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!

(Laughing)

Snap, snap.

Big black hair is the little guy.

This was one of my first teenage divisions ever.

That's when he was like 15, right here, or... ?

Yeah, about that age.

Come on.

Oh, boom!

Oh, come on. You better tap!

Good.

Good night.

Yeah, ah! (Clapping)

I remember this kid had a rubber neck.

It's kind of crazy to see that, you know, 'cause that was quite some time ago.

This at one time was my competition, like peak level, you know.

And I'm vastly, you know, better, but even at this age, you know, I was still... still tearing everyone up.

So seeing this really just... it gets me that much more excited for the upcoming fight, definitely.

You wanna practice?

Yeah.

Let's do it.

You know, those warriors of history have felt the adrenaline, they felt the rush, they felt probably the doubt too, and all this stuff, you know.

I love it 'cause it connects me to all of the warriors before, because they felt the same thing.

No matter where they were or what decade they lived in, they felt it 'cause they were human.

And I love connecting with that.

Sarain: I've come back to Flagstaff, Arizona, where Chris is about to have his first smoker match.

His mom is in the audience, and this is the first time she's ever seen him fight.

Welcome to Eight Limbs Muay Thai Sunnyside Boxing.

All fights tonight are amateur smoker fights.

These fights will not be recorded against professional records.

(Bell dinging)

Punch, punch, now kick, kick!

There you go, punch, punch, punch!

Uppercut!

Use your other hand, use your other hand too!

(Yelling)

(Bell dinging)

(Cheering)

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, one more time, let's have a big round of applause for these two warriors!

(Applause)

A smoker is a fight that the coaches use to see where a fighter's at and see if they're ready, and it's the first time I'm gonna see Chris fight, so...

I think it's about to happen right now.

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, the fighters are ready.

The question is, are you ready?

Can you make some noise?

(Cheering)

And first, fighting out of the red corner from Impact Boxing with a record of eight wins and one loss, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dustin "Outlaw" TC!

(Cheering)

And now his challenger, from Eight Limbs Muay Thai Sunnyside Boxing, with an MMA record of zero fights, he is making his debut this evening.

Ladies and gentlemen, Chris "Gladiator" Hardeen!

(Cheering)

Woo!

(Bell dinging)

Let's go, boys.

Keep it clean.

(Grunting)

Nice kick.

(Grunting)

(Yelling)

(Whistling)

Stop!

(Bell dinging)

(Yelling)

(Bell dinging)

(Applause)

Nice work, Chris!

That was awesome.

That was awesome, seriously.

Thank you.

When everything is firing on all cylinders, it becomes a euphoria.

It feels like I'm in a bubble with whatever, whoever I'm fighting.

It's almost like you're connecting with that person.

Everything just syncs.

It almost feels like I can feel what that person's all about.

It's a very calming place.

Hey!

Hey, how's it going?

Pretty good.

So let's see where we landed.

This is actually one of the biggest events that New Mexico has going on.

I was actually taking a look at the fight card tonight, and we have some O and O guys.

This is one of the biggest events in a fighter's life, is when they come in and do a pro debut.

This is gonna start making the big difference of which way you're gonna go.

Now, don't get me wrong, some fighters end up losing their first pro fight, which is not bad, you know, because in order to be a good champion, you gotta lose a few fights.

Best of luck to both fighters, you know what I mean.

May the best man win.

I said the last time: when a Native fighter makes the UFC, it's going to explode huge.

It's just...

It's all emotions.

Love, fear, all of it.

I like to just stretch out and stay calm, and I'll visualize what I have to do.

I'll see the fight play through my head.

(Sighing) When it comes to about four fights before my own, that's when I really start to get my body awake.

I'll stretch, breathe really well to get the oxygen in my body, and then we'll go through some... some pad work, usually.

Then we'll go through some body locks.

Once they say, "Oh, you're on deck, you're next," that's when it's just boom.

I gradually build, the fire gets more, it builds and builds and builds.

And then by the time it's time to fight, I'm a raging forest fire.

Once you're inside of the octagon and you're... you're in there with your opponent, you actually get a sense of peace and... and you feel calm, and it feels just beautiful.

It's a really sacred moment.

Our minds and our bodies, our spirits are one.

Fight!

(Bell dinging)

(Cheering)

Drive it out!

Good!

Let's go, nice and smooth!

Bronson!

(Cheering)

Get your head, come on!

(Yelling)

(Cheering)

(Music playing)

(Applause)

Ladies and gentlemen, big round of applause for both of your fighters out there tonight.

Referee Felix Rio called a stop to the battle three minutes, 19 seconds in the very first round, declaring your winner by a knockout, fighting out of Chicago, Illinois, Enrique Gonzales!

(Applause)

Sarain: Bronson's loss in his first pro fight is a setback, but it's not the end of the line.

It takes most fighters a number of pro fight wins to get their first shot at the UFC, so Bronson has plenty of opportunities to redeem himself.

f*ck, I just... I feel, you know, I just...

It sucks to lose, man, you know?

But in a messed-up way I feel like this also could be one of the best things that's happened to me in my life.

Mm-hmm.

So I don't... I don't want to feel like this ever again.

If anything, I feel more... more motivated and hungry than ever.

That's not an accurate representation of what I can do.

It's not.

And I won't let this define me.

Next time I'll be better, I promise.

You know, your heart's racing and you're breathing.

You just... and you really realize oh my gosh, there is a heart in here that's beating to keep my blood moving.

And that's one of the most awesome feelings, it is, 'cause not every day you get to feel alive.

That's really raw and true.

That's what I love so much about it, is its truth.

The martial arts is really teaching me about energy, and instead of having to know what the person's thinking or reading someone, like, now I can feel their energy.

Now I can walk into a room, and if someone's happy, you can just feel those positive vibes coming off them.

With the training, I'm becoming very much in tune with that, and so now I just feel so alive, and I feel good and happy.

Two fighters.

One defeated in his debut professional match, one victorious in his first amateur fight.

But at the end of the day, it's not about who wins or loses.

For Bronson, fighting is a way to be a part of something.

For Chris, it's a way to discover who he is after a devastating memory loss.

For both, fighting is connection; the true embodiment of the protector way and the beauty way.