The smell of sweat permeated DeVall MMA & BJJ last Sunday. The air in the room was hot, almost suffocating. John DeVall was jumping rope in one corner while his student and fellow mixed martial arts fighter Chris Galinsky was busy shadowboxing. It had been nearly 24 hours since DeVall and Galinsky returned to Sioux City after an agonizing multi-hour car ride from Colorado.
In just six days, the two Sioux City fighters would step into the octagon at WinnaVegas Casino & Resort to compete in yet another King of the Cage bout. To train, DeVall ventured out to 303 Training Center in Westminster, Colorado. He was eager to test himself and arrived in the Centennial State Jan. 5 for 18 days of training.
“I want to say I did four or five practices a day,” said DeVall. “So I got about 72 practices in 18 days.”
Galinsky followed his mentor and devoted 10 days to training almost nonstop. He mirrored DeVall’s regimen.
“I go wherever he goes,” said Galinsky. “So if he does four practices a day, I do four practices a day. It was a good time. It’s weird to say that we enjoy it, but we love getting beat up.”
Much like DeVall’s previous Colorado training periods, he saw himself starting at the bottom of the totem pole and climbing his way up. And the only way to know for sure if he truly made it to the top is if he wins his second world championship King of the Cage match on Saturday (Jan. 30) against Reuben Duran.
Leaving Sioux City to train was a no-brainer for DeVall.
“I had to go someplace where I can get beat up and there are people that can challenge me,” he said. “Plus, there are guys out there that are just as good at jiu jitsu as I am but they’re [Galinsky’s] size and move like me.”
“I always tell him sparring with me isn’t going to make him better,” Galinsky said. “It’s going to teach him how to get hit hard, but I can’t move like a 135-pounder. John going down there allows him to capitalize on different skill levels.”
Those 18 days, DeVall said, were probably the best he’s ever had in Colorado. He saw his skill levels increase immensely. There was a time when DeVall would get crushed by black belt fighters. But not this time.
“It was like watching two tigers fight,” he said. “It was ferocious.”
Jiu jitsu, kickboxing, wrestling -- everything was covered during this Colorado training period. DeVall brushed up on previously learned skills and also learned a few new techniques. He impressed the coaches and was told that if he spent two years in Colorado and trained full time, he could become a black belt.
The experience allowed for DeVall to be critiqued by highly respected fighters and coaches. A fighter can only progress and learn so much in Sioux City; the skill ceiling, he added, is “super low.” Being in Colorado also gave DeVall un-thought-of opportunities.
“I subbed for Pat Barry and taught a kickboxing class,” DeVall said of the American kickboxer and former heavyweight MMA fighter. “Everybody loved it. That was a huge honor.”
Galinsky viewed his stay in Colorado as a time for personal growth.
“This was my second trip down there,” said Galinsky. “For me, it was about knowing where I was at when I got there and knowing where I was when I left as far as skill.”
Both fighters saw their mentalities change; they built and grew each day.
“It’s like you’re listening to a symphony and towards the end there’s a crescendo,” said Galinsky.
On DeVall’s last day, he imagined himself already fighting his King of the Cage match.
“I knocked out a dude three times during practice,” said DeVall. “I wasn’t doing that any other day. I knew that was the last day and my last time to get down. The kid was like 165 [pounds]. They put us through the grinder.
“So this kid that’s coming to fight me, he better be ready. I’m ready.”
Interestingly enough, DeVall said he’s scared of Duran, his upcoming King of the Cage opponent. But that goes for nearly every person DeVall fights.
“I’m always scared to fight,” DeVall said.
“Anyone who says they’re not is lying,” chimed in Galinsky.
“And if they’re not, they’re probably going to lose,” said DeVall.