MMA Moms, Part I: The women behind the fighters

MMA fans are used to seeing fighters beaten up and bloodied. Though we were all shocked by the sight of Urijah Faber's leg after it was brutalized by Jose Aldo, we also moved onto the next set of fights.

That isn't so easy if you are the woman who raised that fighter. The moms of MMA feel every punch their sons and daughters take.

"I always ask him before the fight, 'Don't let these guys hit you in the face.' Sometimes that just doesn't go my way," said Debbie Guida, the mother of Clay and Jason. "The first time I saw Clay fight and he started to bleed, I was literally on the floor. It made me very upset. When somebody hits one of your own, you feel a gutwrench."

Lorraine Shin, mother of former UFC lightweight champ BJ Penn, said that the toughest part is seeing her son disappointed when the fight doesn't go his way.

"I feel for him. I realize that in his own mind, after he lost, he's thinking, what happened? What could I have done? When I went into the back room in Abu Dhabi, I knew that he was very emotionally hard on himself. I cry to myself because I'm feeling my son's frustration."

After supporting her son through a long and successful wrestling career, Michelle Askren said that she wasn't ready to see her son Ben striking.

"I'm just getting used to seeing him in the standup game. The standup is really tough since it's so different from wrestling. His first fights have been somewhat easy to watch. I'm not really battle-worn yet."

When former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans started fighting, his mother questioned why he would want to try the sport.

"When he first told me, I said, Rashad, you went to school for that? You want to go on national TV and get your [expletive] beat?" Shirley Ann Evans said. But she softened when she saw how much her son loved the sport.

"It's nerve-wracking because it's a brutal sport, but he says he enjoys it. So I support him on it. He says it helps his adrenaline. Every time he's losing or the fight is tough, I think this is what he likes."

Debbie Lauzon, the mother of UFC fighters Joe and Dany, had a similar reaction when Joe first started fighting.

"I knew he loved it. I said to my husband, 'Are we crazy letting him do this?' and then we realized. It's not that we're letting him. He's going to do it anyway. He wanted our blessing, but he wasn't asking for permission."

But that does not mean that the mothers don't want their sons to quit. Shin said that when taking into account the injuries that can happen, she will tell Penn to quit.

"Yes! All the time. I had never realized that when he started fighting professionally, where it would take him. I always look at it as, my son can get hurt, but he has such a passion for it. I support him."

Lauzon said she did once keep Joe from competing, and she regretted it.

"The only time we stopped Joey was in a grappling tournament that was in New Jersey. He wanted to go, but my husband and I discussed it and told him he couldn't go. He was devastated. The tournament was on Saturday, and late Friday afternoon I went into his room and he was crying. He said, 'You don't understand how important this was to me.' It was too late to go to this one, but my husband and I decided, we'll never do that to him again. He never complains, always does the right thing, and we devastated him by telling him not to go. That stuck with us."

Guida says that there are times she has wanted to tell Clay and Jason to quit, but she kept it to herself.

"I think that's kind of selfish. This is what they like to do. What I want them to do and what they picked are two different things. Whatever makes them happy. When they smile, I feel good."

Check back for Friday's post on the wisdom of MMA moms, and go out and buy your mom a Mother's Day Gift!

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