Chapter 18:

Final Fights: Cole

Insurmountable Odds

As my head was feeling light and my extremities were beginning to tingle, I kept pushing forward.

Three more to go.

Logically, I knew I should’ve just stopped and sat out the rest of the fights but something in me kept me going. Some mixture of stubbornness, anxiety, and excitement filled my entire body with enough fumes to continue, if only for a little while.

My next match turned out to be against the short gym rat. Despite his lack of position in the club, he seemed to be one of the best grapplers, second only to the vice-captain.

As the timer began once again, I guarded with my legs as usual. Despite the fact that I knew his preference was fighting from the top with pressure and control, if I wanted to survive the two matches after this, I’d need to fight with a disadvantage.

Immediately in response to my disengagement, he charged me. Due to his body being incredibly in shape, I knew I couldn’t face him with strength in any capacity.

The fight quickly broke down into a series of scuffles over grips, along with the additional sweep attempt for good measure. I was only barely holding on by using leverage and my remaining flexibility to my advantage while he bore down on me with pure muscle mass.

If only I was still as strong as before. If only I had any energy to fight him.

Intrusive thoughts filled my head as the fight carried on. Sure, if I was fully energized or in my prime, this fight would be easy, but that isn’t the reality of the situation. I shook off my thoughts and continued the endless struggle before me.

When the timer finally went off after what felt like a millennium, a wave of relief coursed through me. Only two fights left.

When I got up from the mat to grab a drink once again, my vision was beginning to fill with spots. I could tell someone was talking to me, probably my sparring partner, but I couldn’t hear a word they said.

I smiled and nodded my way through the next few minutes until the next match was to begin, this time against the wannabe shout caster.

Even with the break, the spots in my vision had still not cleared up by the time the fighting begun. Luckily for me, it seemed he was as inexperienced with grappling as Quinn was, if not more.

When the fight began and I laid back into guard, he didn’t move, seemingly confused by the situation. Finally, he sat down into his own guard, unwilling to fall into any potential traps I had set up.

I sat up cautiously, afraid he might suddenly charge me with his weight advantage, until we were sitting eye to eye in a stalemate.

Although this would normally be good for me as I wanted to conserve energy, my pride as a martial artist wouldn’t allow me to just play footsies for three minutes with someone so new.

I’ll turn this into a learning opportunity that he won’t ever forget.

As we sat opposite of each other, I snuck my legs in between his, setting up what’s known as butterfly guard. In doing so, his base was completely broken and his balance was thrown off as I fanned out my legs and established grips on his arms.

To finish things off, I pulled him over me, using his momentum from stumbling, and landed on top of him in mount where I remained for the rest of the match. That basic sweep alone took more energy than I had planned to use, leaving me almost too tired to get a drink once the timer sounded.

Before anyone could say anything, I excused myself to go to the restroom and left the club room as swiftly as possible. I only made it partially down the hallway before collapsing on the cold tile.

All the logical centers in my brain told me to call it quits but I wouldn’t allow myself to be stopped so easily. I regained my composure over the next couple of minutes and turned back towards the club.

Only one more round. I can do it.

As I returned to the room just in time for the last match, I came face-to-face with the vice-captain. Even with the five fights before, she looked more than ready to take me on.

By now the spots in my eyes spread into lines, segmenting my vision. I didn’t even hear the timer as the round began. I only knew we started by the vice-captain’s fist bump and charge.

I tried to fall into guard to no avail. She was too fast in grabbing grips, keeping me close and controlled. Even when I managed to do my grip breaks, overpowering her strength advantage with leverage and positioning, she would move onto something else quickly.

This is a real fight.

Based on the fluidity of her movements, I figured she would have to be an early blue belt, meaning I couldn’t let my guard down.

Even with her fluid movements and follow-ups, I managed to keep a neutral position as I struggled to find a win condition. Her attacks and defenses were full of holes, but I was too sluggish to be able to capitalize on any of them.

The only way I could react in time is if I knew exactly what she was going to do.

That’s it.

I broke away slightly, making some space between us, and flipped backwards.

As my shoulders landed on the mat, I shot my legs up into an amateurish triangle choke.

In my current condition, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish the choke, especially given how sloppily I was positioned before I threw it.

But that was a part of my plan as well.

Even though my triangle was weak, she still defended it as if it was perfect. The fear of being embarrassed like the captain on the day of the demonstration hung over her, giving her impossibly high expectations of my chokehold.

As she pressured down on me and bent her arm backwards, I struck.

Using her panicked stance, I was able to knock her off balance and throw her over me as she sat up. I then swiveled my hips under her and over to the arm she had bent behind her.

Normally, bending your own arm, like she was currently, is a good defense to being choked by a triangle, but unluckily for her, I had never intended to finish my triangle.

After grabbing the arm securely and rolling her over, I followed her forward momentum and rolled up with her, catching her arm in between my legs. As I sucked her arm tightly into my body and leaned forward, making sure to compress her shoulder, I felt her tap my leg with her free hand.

Gotta love the Omoplata.

As I untangled my limbs from the vice-captain, the dark lines dividing my vision continued to expand until everything when black. I fell back down onto the mat, facing the ceiling, as my consciousness slowly faded away.

I knew it was a bad idea to come here today.

Miao Miao