Laying in your hotel room bed alone. You’re eyes open and the harsh reality of what happened the night before sets in. You lie there replaying the fight over and over in your head. What did you do wrong? What could you have done better? Did you train hard enough? Were you focused enough? Was your opponent just better than you and you did all that you could do? You can’t seem to find answers and how could you? Most top athletes are their own worst critics. This fact is a blessing and curse at the same time. It’s what drives us to be the best and it’s what haunts us in moments like these. No amount of condolences or lines like “you’ll get em’ next time” followed by pats on the back with that tone full of pity will ever make you feel better. If your like me, you’ll only feel better once your hand is raised in that next fight. And so from that next morning on, you embark on the next mission. Win the next fight. Train harder, train smarter. Be a better fighter. A new fire, a bigger fire, is lit.
They say “you learn more from a loss than a win” and it’s true. But more so than what you learn technically, the emotional and mental lessons you receive become the gasoline for that new fire. Don’t get me wrong, you still have the technical lesson. If you really want to return to the cage a better fighter, you will take the fight experience back home, pick it apart, break it down, drill the skills you failed to use in the fight and make that a natural reaction, so that next time you are in that moment you will make a split second decision that could win you the fight.
However, in my own experience, the emotional pain of a loss has been more beneficial than any post-fight technique studying I’ve ever done. When I lose a fight, I’m constantly asking myself how I can improve in any and all areas of my life. All areas are inspected, from training to personal life decisions. Sleep and recovery are analyzed. Diet, nutrition and extra calories are scrutinized. Where, with who and how I spend my free time outside the gym is evaluated and measured. I can’t think of another time in ones life where a full life evaluation is done to make sure you are getting the most out of your career and life in general. This certainly isn’t the case after I win a fight. “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke,” is a very redneck yet applicable phrase that always comes to mind when things are going well. Why would you look for kinks in your armor if you just won? But the soldier that prepares to win is the soldier that stays alive. In this case, the fighter that improves regardless of a victory or a loss, is the fighter that stays on top.
I’ve met a lot fighters throughout my amateur and pro career that were better fighters than myself but never made it to the top level. I believe the only difference between myself and those fighters is PERSISTENCE. Some fighters quit the sport due to injuries, financial set backs, the inability to learn from a loss, unable to deal with the pressure or having to put your life on display- to win or fail in front of millions of people and the the scrutiny that comes with it all. I’ve said to myself “I’m done. This isn’t the sport/job for me,” a few times in my life but I always come to my senses. This IS where I belong. And to end I’ll quote one of my favorite movies .
“It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.How much you can take and keep moving forward.Thats how winning is done.”