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The last couple of weeks, we’ve discussed how to properly prepare for a fight. With Mixed Martial Arts being the uncertain world that it is, sometimes all these preparations may seem to be in vain. Because of injuries, contract issues or a whole host of other reasons, your original fight may not take place. On this edition of the Draft Board, we’ll discuss what to do when a fight gets cancelled.
First of all, don’t panic. That seems like a silly thing to say, but the toughest guys in the gym will freak out when a fight falls through. Whether it’s your first fight or a title fight, a lot of time and sacrifice go into every training camp. Mixed Martial Artists give up a lot to compete in this sport and to learn that an opponent has to pull out creates an emotional drain. When faced with this situation, a lot of guys will say, “Great, I did all that training for nothing.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Every time you step on the practice mat in order to improve your game, that means something.
Next, see if they offer you a replacement opponent. The most important thing to remember here is that you don’t have to accept it. You have the right of refusal. I understand that that may be a difficult thing to hear, but you have nothing to gain from competing in a mismatched fight. Promoters first interest is to put on a show and sell tickets. Your number one priority should be your career. Lots of people try to take the attitude of, “I’ll fight anyone, anytime anywhere!” and that’s an admirable attitude…rarely. Most of the time that attitude will set back your career. There’s no such thing as a Pride champion (ok, there were a few, but you know what I mean). There will be a lot of pressure for you to say yes to everything, and this is why you should defer issues like that to your coaches.
If you decide that you will take the replacement fight, the next course of action should be to just go about your business. Many fighters obsess over the new opponent and become distracted. Certainly try to gain all the information possible, but don’t stress if it’s not to be found. At the end of the day, you have to walk into the cage and compete. Keep your same routine and don’t try to do too much. Oftentimes I’ll see fighters try to cram at the last minute and gain little to nothing. A Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” and that applies to MMA as much as anything else. You’ll grow to hate the unpredictability that comes along with the sport. At the same time, though, that’s what makes it fun.