This last weekend, I had the amazing pleasure of heading to Uberlandia, Brazil with Charlie "the Spaniard" Brenneman to corner his UFC fight. It was an outrageous experience that I will never forget.
I met Charlie about 6 months ago, after a tough loss where he realized that he needed to increase his vision and comfort level while striking. In a very short period of time, we became very close. He was making the long trip from Harrisburg on the train 3 or 4 days a week to train. Almost immediately, I could see that Charlie is a genuine person who I would get along with very easily. It really was a blessing meeting him. He is easily the most diligent student I have ever had the pleasure to work with and one of my favorite people on the planet.
He is just a great dude. I'm incredibly honored to have worked with him for this fight and to have the opportunity to get to know him. I really admire Charlie. His love of the sport, desire to learn, his devotion to his family, and his overwhelmingly positive attitude have been inspiring.
In the fight, Charlie looked great. He dominated for 4 minutes in the first round, landing beautiful strikes that made his coach glow with pride and aided him to secure takedown after takedown. Working his incredible top pressure game, he controlled his opponent, Leandro Silva, through his multiple attempts to stand back up. Everything seemed to be going according to plan.
In a moment that will haunt many of us for the remainder of our days, Charlie gave Leandro a split second opportunity as he tried to stand up. Leandro gained control of Charlie's back as they stood. Leandro locked in his signature rear naked choke and forced Charlie to tap with 30 seconds left in the first round. Our hearts broke.
I took this loss harder than possibly any loss of any of my students, friends, teammates, or even of my own.
But, I'm still incredibly proud of my friend Charlie. He is an amazing fighter. He is an outstanding athlete. He is a tremendous martial artist. He is my best student. He is an inspiration. He is my friend.
We'll get 'em next time, dude. I'm so proud of you. Stay Fly, homey.