Some of us have high intentions of getting up and working out in the morning… we set our alarms to go off early and everything. But then the snooze button beckons, and we let an extra 30 minutes or hour of sleep win us over before getting up to go about our day. We start the process all over again the next morning — or, maybe, we give up altogether and reset our alarms to go off later and let go of even considering regularly working out.
One surefire way to get up your motivation to get out there and start your day with exercise is to listen to mixed martial arts fighters talk about their workout routines.
Cade Dement, 20, and Nathan Key, 28, are two such fighters. Their primary coach also is Cade’s father, Stevie Dement, who co-owns Dement Brothers Fighting Systems, with classes based in Evans Fitness Club. Stevie, who is now retired but still teaching, has an extensive background in USA boxing, Golden Gloves, professional kickboxing, and has a second-degree black belt with more than 100 fights behind him.
He’s been coaching Cade and Nathan (both at the amateur level) in preparation for the USA Mixed Martial Arts Kick International Federation (UMMAF) Nationals, coming up Feb. 1-3 at the Isle of Capri Casino in Booneville, Mo. The winners of the competition will earn their spots on the official U.S. team for international competition.
Cade has fighting in her blood, with not only her father but her grandfather and great uncles being boxers back in their day. The family has many Golden Gloves championships among them, along with a trip to the 1972 Olympics.
If you talk to her parents, it wasn’t always a sure thing that Cade would go the route of getting in the ring or in the cage. But as a kid, she took up fighting on her own time — in less socially acceptable ways.
“I was bad when I was a kid!” she exclaimed. “I mean, I wasn’t bad, but yeah, I got into fights in school, and I got into trouble, and my dad did not like that at all. And that was the main reason why — like I got into a fight one time, really bad; it wasn’t at school, it was outside of school. I almost got into a lot of trouble, and my dad was like, ‘Do you want to fight? You’re over here fighting everyone. Do you just want to fight, is that what you want to do?’ And I was just like, ‘YES. I’ve been trying to tell you, that’s what I want to do!’ And I literally had a fight like next month.”
She had grown up seeing her father fight professionally and loved every aspect of it. She was 18 when she had her first fight, and her record stands at 3-3. She was picked to be one of eight women in her weight bracket to go to the Nationals in Missouri.
“So I’ll fight one time on (Feb. 1), and if I win, I’ll fight on (Feb. 2). And if I win that, I’ll fight on (Feb. 3). And if I win that, then I’ll be the USA National champion and I’ll be on the USA fight team, and then I’ll go and fight for worlds. But if I lose on the first, then I can’t fight the next two days.”
Cade is hoping to go pro with her fighting — and winning in the amateur Nationals would certainly bring her the attention to do so. But she is going to school at Augusta Tech in the meantime, with becoming a dental assistant as a back-up plan. However, her heart is in fighting.
“Ohhh… it makes my heart drop just thinking about it! I love the scenery (of fighting); I love the adrenaline rush,” she said. “I love — it just seems so normal to me, whenever I’m in there. I feel at home. I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. And I just love being able to perform and show everybody how hard I’ve worked.
“You go through all this pain; you have to sit in the sauna for hours to make weight. You have to starve yourself. You have to force yourself to drink gallons, sometimes two gallons of water a day. You train like four to six hours a day. You run every morning. You’ve got to diet. Hands-down, I’m not biased, it is the hardest sport known ever to really be successful. And to just finally be able to get in the cage and do what I love, what I worked so hard for, it just means everything to me. It’s just awesome.”
Along with MMA — which is her favorite because “it’s the closest thing to a street fight” — Cade is into boxing, Muay Thai, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. She will have her first boxing match in Louisiana in February.
Now that she has an outlet for her high energy, she hasn’t gotten into a fight outside the ring since before she started. Preparing to fight takes up much of her time — and it even cuts into her social life.
“I don’t even do anything, really,” she said. “I just sleep and train. Eat, sometimes. I can’t even eat half the time, because I’ve got to make weight.
“I started fighting at a young age, and fighting isn’t something you can just every now and then be like, ‘Oh, I think I’m just gonna go hang out with my friends tonight and stay out all night.’ … Through the past couple of years, I’ve had to definitely step back and realize that some of these people aren’t my friends, and I just have to focus on what I want to do for the rest of my life. And if fighting means more to me than going out with my friends, then that’s what I need to focus on. And it does, so I need to step away from the party part of it and the going out with my friends, and everyone thinking it’s cool that I want to fight, ‘Let’s go out!’ It doesn’t work that way. I’ve got to go home and go to sleep because I’ve got to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning and go run for 3 miles and go train, and go to school, and stuff like that.”
One of the best parts of Cade becoming a fighter is how it’s improved her relationship with her dad. At first, a lot of her motivation to fight came from wanting to have something that he thought was cool about her. But as she’s gone on, it’s become much more for her.
“We used to not be that close anyway, because we’re so much alike, we just butted heads all the time, and there was nothing that we really had in common. But I wanted his attention so bad. … (But now), I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody, and it makes it mean that much more to me. And it makes our relationship that much better, because he knows that it’s for me. He knows that it’s not for him anymore. And he and I just have been able to really build off that and build off our love for the sport, and we’re closer now than we’ve ever been. But our relationship regardless is awesome. We’re very much alike; we love having fun together and cutting up, and then we also share the love for the sport, so that’s awesome, too. We’re both hard-headed, though.”
While Cade is just a couple of years into her fighting career, Nathan (who also is Cade’s MMA coach) has been fighting since he was 15. He got into it because, as a self-described “tall, skinny kid,” he wanted to get faster, more coordinated and physically fit.
Nathan’s going into the Nationals this coming week with having not been in a fight in 2 1/2 years. But his body took a beating for 10 years prior to that, so he was more than ready for the break and let his body heal. He says he now feels great. Before his break, Nathan was one of the top amateur kickboxers in the world — he had about 60 kickboxing fights, with only four losses.
“In each of those, three of those were world championship losses, and one of those I lost to a guy in Russia,” he said. “So it’s Norway, Poland, and two Russians. … So those have all been at the world stage kind of stuff.”
His record in MMA is 7 wins and one loss. He described his favorite fighting styles: “Primarily, I enjoy striking the most, which is punching and kicking. Knees, elbows, stuff like that. Which would kind of be classified as kickboxing. Lately I’ve been really intrigued with the mixed martial arts aspect of it, which is everything. Like, I can take you down, I can punch you on the ground, or I can try to put you in a jiu-jitsu submission, grappling submission. Or I can just wrestle with you and pin you up against the wall, punch you. Or if I’m on the bottom, I can just stand up and start striking again. So you can do a little bit of anything. I prefer to be standing up on my feet where I’m in a position where I could run away if I need to. Striking’s my favorite, but mixed martial arts is kind of fun, too, because it’s hectic; you’re just scrambling around.”
Nathan said he’s known of Stevie since he first started getting in the ring.
“(Stevie’s) been around since way before I began, but he’s a pro boxer, and he turned into kickboxing I guess a couple of years before I started,” Nathan said. “But when I started, he was already like a pro. Pro boxer, pro kickboxer, he’s been fighting since he was 5. … So he’s always been around, and then when he got the deal at Evans Fitness Club, I started working out with him there.”
He described his relationship with Stevie as being a good one that has grown over the years.
“It’s kind of a weird brother-son relationship thing, because he’s kind of like a brother to me,” Nathan said. “But also, I came in when I was younger, so I still view him as more of a role model figure. But now that I’m older, I kind of view him more as a brother. … Now we can see eye to eye on some things, but when I was 15, 16 years old, I had no idea about life. Now that I’m a little bit older, we can go and hang out more.”
One of the things Nathan has done as he’s gotten older and wiser is not spend so much energy on promoting himself. He said many people don’t even know that he’s fighting in the upcoming tournament.
“I guess one thing that people would be surprised about is, I’m doing it for myself. One hundred percent for myself. I’m not trying to be popular. I’m not trying to do it for any kind of, whatever, whatever. Now, I will say, when I go over there and if I compete how I think I will, if I perform my best and win that belt, you best believe I’m gonna carry it around with me,” Nathan said, laughing. “And then I’ll take pictures of it and put it up with the people who’ve supported me. So it’s kind of more of a retroactive thing. It’s not like, “Hey, this is what I’m gonna do.” It’s more, if I do well, I’ll say, ‘Hey, this is what I just did. And people will be like, ‘Oh hey, why didn’t you tell me?’ I’ll be like, ‘Where have you been? … You have to kind of keep in touch.’”
After a couple of years of letting his body heal and doing next to nothing as far as exercise goes, Nathan is looking forward to the MMA Nationals. After cutting ties with the kickboxing organization he was with, he was considered retired. But the USA MMA Federation came to him and encouraged him to fight in their tournament. He’s been training for it for several months. He said if he wins this tournament, he’ll have a very good shot at going into the professional level without having to start at the bottom. But, Nathan said, if he doesn’t win at these Nationals, he’s going to retire for good and not try again to go pro.
“I’m very curious to see how, A, Cade does, and, B, how I do in this competition. Because I wanted to do this just to see where I’m at, to test myself. Am I at that level of amateur? Can I do it? Am I too old? … But if this doesn’t go well, I’ll retire right now,” he said. “I’m technically retired right now, so until I go fight, I’m still retired.”
If he does retire for good, though, he’ll still be coaching and staying in shape for competition with the team of fighters in Augusta that get together to work out and train with each other each week. Nathan said the fighter scene in Augusta is a highly cooperative one.
“Everybody knows everybody in Augusta,” Nathan said. “No matter what sport you do, everybody knows everybody. But now that people my age are growing up, we all know each other and we grew up training with our own schools, but now we’re starting to cross-train a lot. And nobody’s mad about it. It’s not like, ‘Oh, you’re stealing people.’ Nope. If you want to compete, let’s all work together, let’s get the best people together and build each other. … I’ll go to another school, and Stevie’s really cool about this; he’s like, ‘Go train with those people. … Get all the training you can.’ So (the fighting scene) has opened up a lot.”