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There’s nothing more powerful than winning a fight. I still haven’t found anything that matches the adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment from having my hand raised. As great as they are, these feelings can cloud your judgment and give you a false sense of security. Last week we talked about watching film on your opponents to learn their weaknesses and technical flaws. On this week’s Draft Board, we flip the lens and shine it on ourselves. Prepare to be humbled.
One of the major themes I’ve tried to hammer home on the Draft Board is that in order to have success in this business, you must learn to put your ego aside. Fighting is an extremely personal sport. The triumphs and failures of MMA are magnified 1000x more than any other job I’ve found. Like anything in life, you have to set your emotions aside and choose the most logical course of action. That means making yourself uncomfortable.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, will you learn by dissecting your performances? Obviously everyone is a unique case, but there are some commonalities. The first is that you’re stronger than you think. Whenever I’ve KO’d an opponent or stung them, the one thing I always thought was, “But I hardly hit him!” and you’ll probably experience the same thing. Too often strikers load up on strikes trying to force the knockout. Find what those punches are, and correct it. In my early fights I noticed that I strained too much on my left hook. Armed with that knowledge I went to my boxing coach and told him that I needed to work on my lead hook. After a lot of punches (and a severely fatigued shoulder) I turned the corner. Sure I made the same mistake here and there, but I elevated my striking game in a way that I never would have noticed until I watched the film.
Secondly, you’ll see your defensive gaps. In the heat of the fight, your adrenaline will help you shake off a lot of blows and allows you to take much more punishment than you would under normal circumstances. Using the Homer Simpson method of defense is the quickest path to a short career. When you watch your previous fights, count everything you get hit with, then break it down by situation. How many jabs did he score? How many takedowns? How many times did I give up my back? So on and so forth. Again, once you gain these insights, you’ll be able to go back to training and drill these weaknesses. Odds are that you already knew many of them, but you’ll be surprised at what deficiencies arise.
The purpose of this isn’t to rain on your parade. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. If you want to have a long, prosperous career, learn how to take criticism, and examine yourself. More than money and injuries, complacency has ruined more careers than anything else. Don’t let it happen to you.