Me Center, Jesse on my left. Rad Martinez, Court McGee, Clay Collard, Deanna Bennett and Cezly Collard

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.


Jesse and I after practice

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.


Jesse and Landon Before one of their fights

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.


Coach Jason (Left) and Coach Arnold (Right)

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.