So You Want To Be A F@*&In’ Fighter? Rule 4 – Know What You’re In For
You made it. You stayed in the gym, you shut up and worked harder than anyone. Your training squad likes you for your intensity and humility. If you’ve made it this far and found a way to enjoy it, you’ve landed in one of the few safe spots in mixed martial arts. Gym life – where champions are made and where fallen warriors regroup after defeat. Being a member of a good team is both challenging and uplifting. Now it’s time to choose: do you want to stay here and be an invisible member of the team or do you want to go on and take a stab at fighting?
I am not going to tell you how to behave now. I am going to tell you what’s ahead. As a matchmaker for Fight Quest, I have dozens of requests from people with shady martial arts backgrounds, some with admittedly little training. I receive them most times after a UFC broadcast, minutes after a memorable fight. A chosen few make it to the ring but amongst them, only a handful succeed. Why? Because they had no idea what they were in for. So it’s time for a gut check.
Rule number four…
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE IN FOR
When you are sparring, things are under control. You can tell your partner if you are injured or even better, if you do not feel like sparring, you can always grapple or hit the weights. No one is looking. Have you ever heard about performers having stage fright? Musicians, dancers or comedians, afraid to underperform and make a fool of themselves? It’s a terrible feeling, but at least they do not have to manage punches to the face, takedowns, armlocks and chokes. There’s more than your ego at stake.
Let me tell you what you are signing up for. By accepting a fight, you are going to go into a ring in front of 300 to 500 people that do not care if you are a good person or not. They do not care if you are injured or if your life is going down the tubes. All they want is for one of the two fighters to get hurt or dispatched in a spectacular way. Some might cheer you on, some might boo you, but most of them are looking for a gruesome finish. Can you deliver that? Can you be humble enough to put yourself aside and give the crowd what they want?
Think about it – how many times were you the guy who got up and boo’d when watching the UFC and the losing fighter announced he wrestled with an injury throughout the fight? Put yourself in his shoes for a second. You blow your ACL during your training camp, but you need to fight for this 15 000$ prize money and your sponsors so you can put payments on your house. You go into the ring, you fight your heart out, you lose and when you tell the truth, fans boo and say you are full of excuses.
Fighting is a lot of pressure. For those who fight on a regular basis, it sure is unnerving to risk everything on a regular basis. They feel that they have do it though. Risking is a lesser stress than not stepping up after all that work . Amateur standout and good friend Ilias Sannoudakis once told me: ”I just want to do something great”. For Ilias, it’s a bigger distaster to not climb in the ring than to lose. He knows what’s ahead and that it’s not babes and overpriced t-shirts with glitter.
Stop imagining yourself with your arms raised, covered in sweat and beaming with pride. Let that moment surprise you and strike you when your guard is down. Tito Ortiz said: ”Expect for the worst and hope for the best”. He couldn’t explain the situation better. You are heading into a cage where you’re going to risk your health and maybe even your life. That opponent on the other side of the ring looks nothing like Anderson Silva, B.J Penn or Urijah Faber. He looks hungrier, crazier and more ripped than you. Are you sure you want to do this?
Of course you do. You have made it this far, it would not make much sense to back down, would it? You’re going to step into that ring or cage. If you’re a fighter at heart, I have faith that you will. There is no other path for you. You did not make an easy choice, please know that. You are going up, not only against an opponent, but against a crowd that expects crushing. You are no longer the one sitting, but you are fighting for your life instead. Are you ready for that?
You are at the first crossroads of a fighting career. There is no shame in giving up and declaring forfeit. Hell, I did it. If you made it this far, you have the heart and guts of a champion. Please be self-conscious about this though. If you do not want to go on and fight, look at yourself in the mirror and yell it out loud. It’s heavy for the gym atmosphere to have a delusional member that is yapping about his career, refusing to face the truth. If you have made it this far, you know the sacred character of gym life and team morale. Do not drag this down because you refuse to face reality.
It’s all part of being a fighter, having the humility to recognize and anticipate the challenges ahead. It’s a question of pride and intergrity. You do not want to be that guy that can’t back his words and never learns from it. Wether you step up and fight or not is your decision but please, know what you’re in for.