Losing a mixed martial arts contest is unlike any feeling in the entire world. The plethora of endorphins and morale that come from having your hand raised in the cage is equaled only by the despair that losing brings. On June 20th 2015 I suffered one of the most demoralizing losses of my entire life. I sold more tickets to that fight than I ever have in 8 years of fighting, and I hadn’t fought close to home in over 2 years.
I have always had a habit of getting way too siked out before heading to the cage. In 2013 , at St. Clements hall I was getting ready to walkout to fight, and my coach asked me how I felt.
I feel like s******* my pants.
I am so nervous. Like I’m really nervous.
I was so nervous I remember feeling like I wanted to walk out of the arena and disappear, just not walk to the cage. Just run away. And I gave it a serious thought. But I stayed and fought, and won the fight in 18 seconds. Fast forward two years and two victories later , it’s 2015 and I’m back at St. Clements hall. My last two fights I was a nervous wreck but won the fights in under a minute. This time is gonna be different, I’m going to relax and not even think about the fight until it’s time to fight. Everything is going well, it’s about 8:00pm and I’ve been at the venue since noon. I’m working the crowd, hanging out with my family, watching the fights. (My fight was the co main event and I wouldn’t fight for another few hours). 2,3,4,8,10 fights go by, then it’s time for the main card to start. I go back stage to get taped and gloved, still relaxed. I feel like it’s really working this time. I’ve defeated the nerves and I’m ready to go into this fight with a clear head.
And then it happened.
As I was standing in the runway waiting for the commissioner to give me the motion to walk , my entrance song starts playing, and all those nerves I kept out of my head all day long came rushing down on me like a f****** tidal wave. All I could think was what the f*** am I doing here and all of my family and friends are in the front row. My opponent came to the cage after me and the guy looked like he ate a bowl of trenbolO’s For breakfast with some liquid stanozolol for milk. He was bigger in person , and looked like he was carved out of f****** granite. And the kicker? This motherf***** winked at me. To cut to the chase – I got TKO’d in 2 minutes. And I’ve never felt so low in my entire life. He walked over to the side of the cage where my wife and two sons were sitting and made a ‘suck it” motion. And all those fears I felt walking to the cage became a self fulfilling prophecy. The moral of my story ? Thoughts become things. The man who says he can and the man who says he can’t are both correct.
You see, when you win a fight , you Thank God , your girlfriend , your coaches , your team mates , your fans , your mail man , your barber , your mechanic , your Twitter followers, your twice removed half brother’s baby’s mothers cousins sister, you get the idea.
But when you lose, you blame only yourself. It’s not a group thing when you lose. There is no party, no 100 Facebook posts , nobody wants to take a picture with you, your phone doesn’t ring, you feel pretty worthless. You feel like all the hard work was in vein. I trained twice a day for 12 weeks, sparred two dozen rounds, ran 100+ miles, lost 30+ pounds, for 2 f****** minutes.
But a wise man once told me
If the worst thing that ever happens to you is that you lose a fight , you’ve had a great life.
And on the other side of that coin , if the best thing you ever do in life is win fights , then that really isn’t s*** either. A champion is defined by his ability to overcome adversity, And without struggle there can be no progress. Your mma career is a blink of an eye compared to your entire life , and your entire life is a blink of an eye compared to eternity. Accepting a fight with humility and having the perseverance to move forward might inspire a dozen people. And those dozen people might inspire a dozen people each, and so on and so forth. If you drown yourself in self pity following your loss, other people might look at you and think ‘if he/she can’t do it, I definitely can’t do it‘ and give up on their dreams too. And those people might cause others to give up on their dreams , etc. you see, negativity and positivity are both contagious. By working toward reaching your highest potential you unknowingly liberate others to do the same. And by wallowing in self pity you unknowingly plant seeds of doubt in the minds of all who look up to you. So what will your legacy be? The mind needs to be worked just as much as any other muscle or any other facet of your game. If it isn’t, you’ll never be able to get past a defeat. And the main thing to remember is this , you only have one worst day and one best day in your life. You’re never as good or bad as you think you are. You can let defeat make you or break you. You can use it as a opportunity for growth or as an excuse to throw in the towel. Just know that your time on earth is finite, and your window of time to be a competitive athlete will be gone before you know it. Some of you will be on your death bed and know that you’ve still got some fight left you , fight that will never get to express itself. And you’ll take that fight , that fire, to your grave with you. As for me, I don’t want to be that 90 year old man knowing he still had more fight in him when he threw the towel in, when he quit. when I die , I’m going to die on E. No matter if I become the UFC champion or if I fight at St. Clements hall the rest of my life, I will go to my grave without one single ounce of talent left in me. When I stand before God I will say , I used everything you gave me.
And I hope everyone reading this will do the same.