moment of the actual choke. The moment I became complacent in a bad spot it was only a matter of time.
The longer we are complacent the harder it becomes to control the subsequent moments that follow.
moment of the actual choke. The moment I became complacent in a bad spot it was only a matter of time.
The longer we are complacent the harder it becomes to control the subsequent moments that follow.
Being a Mormon in MMA is a funny thing. I am in a world of constant misconceptions from both members of the church and my fellow mixed martial artists. The misconceptions from MMA fighters are usually the normal Mormon stereotypes:
From members of the church the questions are more like the following. How can I be Mormon and be ok with causing harm to a fellow child of God? How can you live the gospel when everyday I am training to take another man’s consciousness? How can you be active when you surround yourself with roughnecks who relish in violence?
The question I never get but wish I would is why I fight? I get asked many times why followed by some statement with a hint of disgust but never just simply asking why I fight?
Simply put I love it. Every aspect of mixed martial arts I love. I enjoy the strategy, the adrenaline, the competition and I love the emotions that come from winning and losing. The pain from hard fought rounds where the next several days it hurts to sneeze let alone laugh. Last the thing that I love about MMA is the relationships I have formed with so many people who are WAY different than I am. It is crazy that trying to hurt someone creates a relationship that is deeper than most.
Yes I am a little bit crazy (but so is anyone who has a big dream) and yes I don’t mind the violence. Yes I am rough around the edges especially with my language. However, my heart is in the right place and MMA has helped me be more disciplined in staying on the straight and narrow.
As a Latter Day Saint, “we hope to be able to endure all things…if there is anything of good report or praiseworthy we seek after these things .” I am seeking after something I have defined as praiseworthy I am on a quest to show that you can be a great person and great fighter. My hope is through my journey I can be a light and example to others.
I like to look to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example. When he preached the gospel he did not care about people’s’ background. Christ loved everyone no matter what they did. What a great opportunity I have to follow in the footsteps of Christ and surround myself with my brethren of different faith than mine and be a light and example of my faith. We believe “to be in the world but not of the world” and that is exactly what I get to do in MMA.
There have been many great Followers of Christ who have been on similar journeys and been able to help countless people. My hope is that during my journey in mixed martial arts the Lord can call me to the same.
That is why I fight.
Sacrifice is essential for growth. How can you achieve greatness without sacrifice? If there is anyone out there who has reached levels of greatness without sacrifice I would love to hear it. Without sacrifice those levels of greatness are hollow. Sacrifice adds value to the end result.
We pay for our success through sacrifice and the more sacrifice the more value the success has.
Through my years in the cage I have often thought about the sacrifices I have made and if they are worth it in the end. That is an important thing to evaluate. Is the sacrifice worth the end result. Sometimes our sacrifices are not worth the end product and that can be a great factor on whether it is something we should pursue.
I remember having a talk with a teammate. He was a star in the making but he was young. It seemed like he really didn’t sacrifice much to get there. He was naturally a gifted fighter and his fights were extremely exciting. The more he fought the more fans he had. He would just show up to practice and prepare for fights. Did not have much to worry about outside of fighting at least it seems. However, MMA is a sport that requires a lot of your attention and if you do not give it to her she will beat you down. This individual sacrificed a lot to get to where he was as do a lot of fighters who take this sport serious.
I said to him, “Everyone makes sacrifice in this sport. You just need to be okay with them otherwise the sport will leave you behind.”
I believe this to this day. At the time I was working a midnight shift at work, going to school full time and had my first child. I knew that in order to keep climbing in this sport my sacrifices would mainly be sleep and a 4.0 GPA (which I do not regret) and the occasional time away from my family.
Those are my long term sacrifices that I make everyday. Moreover when I am preparing for a fight I make even more short term sacrifices. The amount I train increases which means I will be away from my family more. The junk food I love I give up on and typically I do not hang out with friends much because I go to bed as early as I can.
Especially in MMA and in other endeavors its never just you making sacrifices. I used to think that I made all these sacrifices for this sport and that my wife and kids had it easy because they just stayed at home but I was wrong. I am now aware that she too sacrifices a lot for me to pursue this dream. She sacrifices me being away, me being grumpy from weight cutting and my anxiousness when I have a fight. When I have a fight coming up I am not the man she married and that is hard to live with but she sacrifices me for the month or two as I prepare for a fight. She picks up extra parenting duties so I do not have to. After five years I have realized these sacrifices and have become grateful for them.
In the end the sacrifice is worth it especially when you win. Stepping in the cage and putting it all on the line is something that 99% of the world will never experience. When you taste greatness no matter of sacrifice really seems that bad.
Anything that we find worthwhile will require sacrifice. Whether we want a promotion at work, start our own business, starting a new hobby or passion requires sacrifice. Going into an endeavor and not understanding the sacrifices involved is a recipe for failure.
Make sure when on your pursuit that you are aware of the sacrifices you have made, will make and are making because in the end you are less likely to fail because you will not take your sacrifices or the sacrifice of others for granted.
Progression in anything can be difficult. As we progress all too often we plateau or our progression slows to where we begin to get passed up by our competition. As I began MMA I had a few things that helped me such as good coaches, teammates and a drive. As I look back years later there is another thing that lead to my progression in MMA that I know try to cultivate no matter what.
Rivalries we often think of as a negative thing and connotations suggest there is contention between you and your rivals and often times that is true. However I am grateful for my rivalries I had. Most of the time is was never spoken since we trained on the same team but every time there was a mutual knowledge of the rivalry.
When I was at the Pit Elevated just starting out I had two rivals and whether they knew it or not I strove to be better than them. If they won a fight I had to win my next fight. I wanted everyone to know I was the better fighter out of the three of us. Even though all 3 of us fought in different weight classes everyday these were my training partners.
My whole goal was for the coaches to acknowledge me as a real talent like they acknowledged them. I would go into practice with the goal of beating them and the coaches telling them they are getting left behind. When it didn’t happen I would strive more. I did things outside of practice to pass them up.
This is a different kind of rivalry. Most rivalries are against guys who you will compete against and are not on your team. In MMA you have Team Alpha Male vs Dominick Cruz, Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier. Other examples are Wal-Mart vs Amazon or Oklahoma vs Texas. These are good too I call these external rivalries. When you are competing against direct competition. However something like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (before he went to Golden State) or Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw (before TJ left) those are internal rivalries. You are on the same team you have the same goal but you want to be the best on that team.
Sometimes internal rivalries become external this happened with both examples I used. Other times they are just a catalyst to success.
External rivalries are good rivalries as well and we love them because it creates drama and we see people compete at a high level and intensity that otherwise is not there if there is no rivalry.
External rivalries are built upon pride. Internal rivalries is built upon desire. That desire is to be better and to out perform but if you lose it does not hurt your pride as much if you lose to an external rival.
For me it was the constant need to be better than two people: Landon and Jesse. Both these guys started around the same time I did. It seemed through my eyes that the coaches and other guys thought they would be the next big thing and I never got that attention. However, that was my perception and probably not the reality. My goal was to get the same respect and surpass them. I wanted to be considered the best up and comer in my coaches and teammates eyes. I strived for that validation.
Each practice I would come in with the goal to do better than they did. When I fought against other teams I had to win because Jesse and Landon were winning. If they lost I wanted to fight the guys who beat them because they were not only my rivals but they were my close friends. It’s like when you can beat up a sibling but when someone else beats them up it is unacceptable.
I have never spoken with them about my internal rivalry with them until years later after we all went our separate ways. We each had an unspoken rivalry with each other that created a strong bond and friendship that was created off competition we encourage each other in whatever endeavors and I am grateful to them for their rivalries.
When they moved away I noticed my progress slowed down and I began going through the motions. This had nothing to do with what was being taught I just had no one outside of myself to compete with. It was not until I moved to a new state with a new scene I have developed new internal rivalries. That I began to progress again at a higher rate. I come to practice with a new intensity that has been gone the last few years.
It is healthy to have a rival whether it is in a sport or at work. They will help you reach heights at a faster rate or help you get to a place you did not think you could reach.
If you work for a company it does not matter if it is sales, operations or HR there are people who can rival you. If you make them your rival and strive to outperform them they can help you reach new heights of success. There does not need to be drama they do not even need to know about it.
The lesson learned is find a rival or multiple rivals and everyday strive to be better than them. I promise this they will strive to be better than you and if you let up they will pass you by. However if you keep up you will take each other to heights not reached.
When you are in a fight there are a lot of risks both inside the cage and outside of it. You can be seriously injured or even killed (even though in a sanctioned fight this is more rare). You can be injured in the fight or over time through training. The longer you fight the larger the toll on your body. More than physical injury in a fight you can be emotionally and mentally hurt as well. I have seen fighters loss and it completely crushes them mentally and they hardly recover.
Needless to say there is a lot of risk involved in MMA and combat sports. Here is my lesson learned in the cage on risk management and analysis.
What is risk management? Risk is simply defined as the possibility of loss. That loss can be anything of value as it pertains to the one taking the risk. To manage risk you are essentially trying to reduce the negative outcome the risk has. The more you study the landscape the better prepared you will be navigating through it.
In mixed martial arts even if you do not wish to fight in the cage and just enjoy training there is still a lot of risk. My most serious injuries have happened during practice and not in an actual fight. There are several things you have to look at in reducing risk around you.
First thing I do is I identify all the risks involved. This is Risk Analysis. Next I take a look at how I can reduce the risks as I perform. This is Risk Management. This is universal regardless of the field you are in.
So when I look at the risk I have to judge all the negative consequences from each risk and what is the probability of each thing happening. For example let me take the risk of injury. I list out each negative consequence from an injury. For my torn ACL (which I did not think would happen to me) here were the negative impacts:
Just as you can make a negative charge positive in science I believe with the right risk management you can turn a negative consequence from a risk into a positive. My ACL injury actually outside of the financial stress became a positive experience in my life. I relearned how to fight and was able to refocus my priorities. Overall I am a better fighter physically and mentally from over coming this injury so the reward outweighed the risk.
So here is my process I have learned for risk management/analysis in MMA and how it applies to life and business.
When I get offered a fight first thing I do is a risk reward analysis. I look at the opponent, the pay and how a win/loss can impact me in the future. These are the major things to look at with a risk/reward analysis. It does not matter if it is business or a major life decision the following applies to it all.
I break my analysis down to four categories:
Risk as it pertains to MMA is: losing, injury, opponent’s experience, location of fight, stresses I have in my life at the time, short notice.
Reward for me is: pay, winning, the impact of the win, good health, knockouts and any new fans.
So when I get offered a fight I have to compare those risks to the rewards as I make a decision to take the offered fight/pay or come back with something to make it worth my time. I first consider the opponent and his skill level, then I look at what the pay is. Next I consider the promotion themselves and the coverage they get after that I consider the amount of time I am given to prepare for a fight. I take all those and a few other things into consideration then decide if I am going to take the fight.
I am not opposed to fighting a tough opponent as long as the reward is worth it. It is the same way in business. Why would you launch a product that is expensive to produce and the profits are minimal? Or you know that a process will be dangerous and you reap little in gains.
So I have planned out what the risk(s) is and I decide to seek after the reward(s). Now what I have learned to do next is managing the risk. I make my plan and execute in order to reduce risks and deal with any negatives that come to make the most of it so I have a gain and not a loss.
If I have learned anything in fighting you cannot just have one plan and that is your ride or die. Your plan needs to be loose and flexible, to mold to whatever variables come your way. The old adage “Roll with the punches” is very true when it comes to risk management. That is why it is so important to do a through risk analysis. Preparation is key. Just be wary of over analysis to paralysis (I have had this it is attributed to a few losses- More on this later).
So I try to plan out several things and I break it up into groups and then create my processes within those groups. For example with a fight I break out my groups into training, weight cut and the fight itself. Each group has its own risks that must be managed to avoid the overarching risk of a loss in competition.
I have to identify all the variables and ways I can minimize each risk as it pertains to that group. In training the big risks are injury and lack of preparation. I want my coach and I to be on the same page with my training and strategy leading up to the fight and I want training partners I can trust to give me good rounds and increase my odds of injury. If My training is bad odds are the weight cut will be bad and so will the fight. the result of each group can increase or decrease the odds of risk. My processes need to be positively correlated.
For the weight cut the big risks are how much weight I lost through diet vs how much through dehydration. This plays a big factor in my health which plays a factor in my performance. Great fighters lose to lesser fighters because of bad weight cuts. (I also have experienced loss from this failed risk)
Having a healthy weight cut leads to better performance on fight night which reduces risk of losing and injury during the fight.
For the fight my big risks are a loss and injury. Now I have a general game plan going in but I need to stay flexible in the fight. If I know my guy is a wrestler or a grappler my loose game plan is to strike and force him in an area he is uncomfortable.
If my opponent is a striker even though I am a great striker why risk it? I am a better wrestler than he is so I plan to take him down and sub him.
Now in the actual fight there are so many variables and factors that change in a matter of seconds you have to be okay changing it up. Be flexible no matter what you are doing this helps reduce risk and can lead to success.
All in all, when I manage risk I reverse engineer the biggest risks and how to avoid them. Then I compartmentalize into groups and create processes that will help reduce my risks. I have to be prepared through analysis but flexible in execution to roll with any unforeseen circumstance. That is what I have learned about risk management in the cage.
I love God, my wife, my kids and family and mixed martial arts in that order. However, before my wife and kids it was just God and MMA. Mixed martial arts was my first love in life. I have been obsessed with the sport before it was a cool thing. I have always wanted to be a fighter.
Mixed martial arts is the greatest sport on the planet. MMA is a physical, mental and emotional test between two competitors to see who is superior. MMA requires strategy and has so many variables at any given time you could win or lose a fight even to a lesser fighter. Anything can happen in a fight and at her core MMA is pure (I will refer to MMA as a girl to personify it because that is what good writers to in order to drive a point across). She is not just some sport, She is an art where two people can perform. We are locked in a cage but that cage is where we can experience what it means to be free. She is more than an art she is a lifestyle.
She takes broken people and makes them whole. I have seen her take shy people and make them out going. The bullied and beaten into the strong and the protectors. I have seen her take people with body issues and transform them, gave the unconfident confidence. She is the great equalizer. It does not matter what your background is. She does not care how much money you have or who your parents are. She does not care what your socioeconomic status, genetics, nationality or ethnicity is. The language you speak or the country you were born in does not matter. None of this matters in MMA. The only thing that matters is what you put in and how bad you want it. Even the reason you fight in the grand scheme does not matter. If you fight to be famous she can provide the platform. You fight to prove others wrong she will help you. If you fight just to improve your life she will do that.
She can take complete strangers and turn them into family. Provides the the broken with a support system to accomplish great things and become excellent. She creates a brotherhood that few ever understand. These people all come from different walks of life but like I stated previously none of that matters. You do not have to speak the same language as those you share the cage with she transcends language, culture and society. Her language is universal, her culture includes all. You do not have to like all other fighters but she makes us respect each other.
She can provided the highest of highs but with that can come the lowest of lows. MMA is a temptress and can and will tear you down. If you do not show her respect she will leave you in pieces. She will tear you down leaving you physically, emotionally, mentally and financially broken. After every loss and shortcoming whether in the gym or actual competition tears you down stripping you to the core. You come to her thinking you are great and leaving realizing you are nothing.
However, with the lows come the highs. Just as the refiner puts precious metals in the fire over and over again to burn out impurities so does MMA. The process can be long and painful. It wears on both body and soul. The process is tried and true and as long as you realize she is breaking you down to build you up properly that is when progress starts. There is nothing greater when you see the improvement. You get faster, stronger and more efficient. She builds you not only into a fighter and competitor but a student and an artist. When you win there is no greater feeling. It is pure elation. The process never stops but the more you stay with her the more rewarding it becomes.
Whether you become a world champion and compete at the highest levels or you just fight once or twice she sets you up to do whatever you want to do in life. She lays the foundation for success, puts you on the path towards excellence. All you have to do is listen. Listen to the lessons learned in the cage.