Fighters analyze tapes of their matches all the time. And Benji Radach, a star middleweight for the Los Angeles Anacondas in the International Fight League, wants to study one of his old fights.
But Radach can't get a copy of the tape, which has left him more than a little frustrated. "I am absolutely desperate to get my hands on that," Radach said.
The tape, though, isn't of one of Radach's 18 mixed martial arts fights. It wasn't even a sanctioned match against a recognized opponent.
Rather, it is surveillance tape from an Elmer's restaurant in Vancouver, Wash., where on Oct. 24, 2004, while trying to beat a mild hangover, Radach foiled an armed robbery. He was having breakfast with his friend, professional MMA fighter Dennis Hallman, at the Elmer's after a night of celebrating a Hallman submission victory the night before over Landon Showalter.
Radach, who fights Gerald Harris of the Quad Cities Silverbacks on Thursday in the IFL semifinals at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., was shocked out of his alcohol-induced fog when he noticed a man with a gun at the cash register.
"Dennis had won his fight the night before and he and I and my girlfriend and his sister went out to party and we had kind of a crazy night," Radach said. "We went out for breakfast at this place, which was kind of like a little diner, and we were talking about all the crazy things that had gone on the night before."
The group was oblivious to what was happening around them in the restaurant, engrossed in their recount of a memorable Saturday night.
Little did they know, that the Saturday night they had just spent wouldn't be nearly as memorable as the serene Sunday morning they were enjoying.
A young girl approached their table, crying inconsolably.
"She said, 'He's got a gun! He's got a gun!'" Radach said. "And I was like, 'Huh?' It was just happening out of nowhere."
The man – who turned out to be a 64-year-old named Russell R. Rogers, then of Camas, Wash., – pointed the gun in a manager's face and demanded money. Rogers was holding the gun in his right hand and Radach was behind him and to his right. Radach, who was 25 at the time, calculated the distance between Rogers and himself and realized he could probably get to Rogers before Rogers was aware of his presence.
And so he didn't waste any more time thinking – "You know you don't have a lot of time to do anything when a gun is waving a gun around, because you never know what it might be that causes him to pull the trigger," Radach says – and he opted to act. "I knew if I could get my hands on the gun and his wrist, he'd be screwed," Radach said. "I kind of snuck up, grabbed the gun, put him on his back, hit him one time, broke his jaw and took his gun."
Radach said he's tried without success in the nearly three years since the incident to obtain the surveillance video. Yahoo! Sports contacted Elmer's corporate office in an effort to obtain the video, but received no response.
As much attention as he received for that – Rush Limbaugh spoke about it on his radio show, Radach said proudly – he wants to be known more for his fighting. He is 15-3 in MMA and is 3-0 in the IFL, but his athletic career is more defined by the inordinate number of major injuries he's suffered, only one of which was fight-related.
That was a broken jaw courtesy of a Chris Leben left hook from a June 26, 2004 fight.
A broken jaw is bad enough, but this is a guy who has had neck surgery to repair a football injury, who tore the ACL in a knee while racing dirt bikes, who had a herniated disk in his back that needed surgery, who was bitten by a brown recluse spider and developed a golf-ball sized hole in his calf.
He has screws in his left hand, pins in his right, has broken ribs and suffered every strain, pull and tear imaginable.
"None of it seemed all that bad at the time it was happening, but when you talk about it and list one after the other, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming," Radach said. He's eager to defeat Harris and help the Anacondas move to the championship round. Harris, he said, is a young fighter who is looking to upset a big-name such as Radach to make his own reputation.
But Radach has his own plans and isn't interesting in being anyone's steppingstone. "He's not a known fighter, but he's real hungry and real explosive and those are the toughest guys to fight a lot of times," Radach said. "I have to be ready from the start, because I know he's going to come hard. But I want it, too."
He also wants the tape, which he has struggled to acquire. It would, he said, be a great memory of one of the significant moments in his life.
Athletes are often regarded as heroes, but Radach got to play one in real life.
"I've thought about that night so much and it would be so neat to be able to see that tape and watch myself do what I did," he said. "I'm not going to give up hope, but it's been pretty frustrating."
His short-term goal – in addition to securing the tape – is to defeat Harris and help the Anacondas get past the Silverbacks and move to the Aug. 20 IFL Championship. The Anacondas-Silverbacks winner will take on the winner of the New York Pitbulls and Toronto Dragons match, which will also be on Thursday at Continental Airlines Arena.
The highlight of the Pitbulls-Dragons match will be a light heavyweight fight between Toronto's Vladimir Matyushenko and New York's Jamal Patterson.