So You Want To Be A F@*&In’ Fighter? – Rule 5 – Never Be Satisfied
You’ve joined a gym, worked hard, kept to yourself, took the necessary punishment and made your successful debut in competition. Congratulations, you have made it further than I ever did. You are cut from a very rare mold. It does not matter if you become a champion by now. You know, I know and everybody that ever stepped on the ring knows that you have went further than most people ever will. You have gained something that no one will ever be able to take away from you. You are worthy of respect and admiration.
This next (and last) advice I am going to give you is taken from observation of successful and not so successful fighters around me rather than personal experience. There is one factor that will make you rise above the others and propel you towards your dreams. One factor over which you have control anyway. So my last advice for you is…
Rule number five:
NEVER BE SATISFIED ABOUT ANYTHING…
Have you heard Georges St-Pierre give post-fight interviews? Every time he squashes an opponent into tiny bits, he mortifies himself on the microphone with Joe Rogan afterwards: ”I did so many mistakes. I’m sorry, I will go back to the drawing board and come back better” he said after his dominating win over Dan Hardy. He holds a discourse similar to the one of a man who has just lost, for what? Because the Brit gutted his way out of two submissions. Two, fully wrenched submissions that most human beings would have cried just to think about being put in them. That weird, ashamed monologue holds the key to the success of Georges St-Pierre.
Complacency is the enemy. Go to Zahabi MMA and watch GSP train, talk about him afterwards. You will never hear him say: ”Yo, my stand-up is sick, I can trade with the baddest in MMA” or ”nobody can take me down, my wrestling skills are the best”. No, when things become too easy for Georges, there’s this little voice inside him telling him it’s time to move on to bigger and harder things. If his boxing partners do not offer him enough challenge, he’s going to seek better ones. Last time I checked, he was a regular sparring partner of super middleweight contender Librado Andrade. If given the opportunity to spar with the likes of Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell or Arthur Abraham, I highly doubt he’s going to turn it down.
If you’ve made it into competition and succeeded, you ARE good. There is no need to say it, people know. Even more important, there is no need to THINK it. You are never good enough. If you tap out each and every one of your sparring partners, it’s time to chase bigger challenges. Even if you beat the best guys, out of the best Mixed Martial Arts gym in your town, it’s not enough. Do you want to be a local badass or do you want to be a champion? If you clean the gym, it’s time to seek out a sport specific approach. There will always be a Muay Thai fighter, a boxer, a wrestler or a Jiu-Jitsu black belt ready to hurt you to teach you a thing or two.
I can already hear your argument: ”Why would I change a winning formula? If I keep winning, doing what I do, I’ll keep at it.” Let me answer this argument with mathematics. There is a direct causality in between the challenge you give yourself in training and your success in the ring. If you stick around people that show you new tricks and challenge your physical skills all the time, the effect will be an ever improving and more dangerous fighter in the cage. If you’re swimming with the sharks, you have to adapt or you’re going to get eaten. When the sharks become trouts, it’s time to find another tank to play in.
A fighter that displays the same skill set every time he gets into the cage is going to get figured out and beaten by an opponent that prepares and adapts to him. Think about Tim Sylvia for example. His boxing and his long reach challenged everybody for a while, but as soon as Randy Couture showed the world that the big man was vulnerable to the overhand right, things were never the same for the Mainiac. I will cut the guy some slack though. He made the most of that long,heavy frame of his and I do not see how he could have become a submission specialist in the next ten years.
Fighting is about the survival of the fittest. You might just be the one to outlive the others for a while, but it’s an ever changing world and what’s the law today might not be tomorrow. I have no doubt in the skills that you already have and in your desire to be the best, but the extra mile of the fighting game is invisible. You have to seek what you do not have, what’s not in your tool box? If you have a good record, but you think that your standup stinks, that you have no wrestling and that you’re a good white belt at best, then you are doing something right.
Always dig deep, focus on your weaknesses and your mistakes. You are going to rise above the mass and succeed. Being a fighter is fun. Fight nights are glamorous parties and the UFC fighters are tremendous models, but keep this in mind. There’s more than a flight of stairs and a chain link fence that separates you from this glorious win in the cage.