UFC – Do MMA Fighters Know Fear in the Cage?

I can understand the fear. Some put unnecessary pressure on themselves. I’m not afraid. I think I can take everyone out. I’m going to the cage to make warBenoît Saint-Denis, 26, (8 wins – 1 loss) is a professional fighter. He recently signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s largest MMA organization. In other words, he fights for life And also When he enters the octagon, surrounded by fences, fully aware that he is about to face an adversary who has come to hurt him, he does so fearlessly, or almost.

It’s normal for us to think it’s crazy. We are in our delirium, we think it is normal, while it is special to take blows, says Daniel Woirin, his coach. I understand that people outside of our sport don’t understandHowever, not all fighters in the world are as calm as Saint-Denis. Some are stressed, others (too) motivated and some are even scared. There are almost as many emotional states as there are fighters. The whole thing is about serenity and stability on D-Day, at zero o’clock.

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A long process

Emotion is what will allow you to approach the fight good or bad, analyzes Daniel Woirin. Everything happens before the fight, it’s a conditioning“. For him, who has worked in Brazil and the United States, “where the mental dimension is less taboo in top sport”, good head is one of the pillars of achievement. That is why he now calls on a mental trainer to bring its fighters into the best conditions.

Benoit Saint-Denis

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Maxime Petit, a psychology graduate, follows athletes in various disciplines and has specialized in martial arts for three years. Especially in MMA. And if there’s one thing his experience has taught him, it’s that before putting on their shorts and the padded mittens that serve as gloves, fighters are “all stressedA fighter is no different from any other athlete, is he moving forward?† He is a human being who has emotions. I teach them to use them to activate

Today he mainly accompanies Benoît Saint-Denis. With success, sincenow i like contact, enjoy the French fighter with pride. But I took my time. There are those who can train very well, but cannot appreciate a competition under stress. They are unable to perform“Even if his past in the special forces and his missions in Mali, where he saw death up close, help him put the dangers of the cage in perspective, Saint-Denis is a human being like any other. Stress management is work.

Benoit Saint Denis vs Dos Santos

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A process that pays off, as he now considers his mind one of his most important powers. †It’s already happened to me to face guys who are under stressremembers the ex-soldier. The beatings make them lose their resources. Against Mario Saeed (his 3rd fight at BRAVE, a Middle Eastern MMA competition, editor’s note), on the first clean shot I did, I saw his face change. And 1.30 after it was over

Anxiety and pressure, data to consider

Among fighters with no experience and benchmarks in the cage, the chorus of almost incapable pressure often comes to the fore. †My first three professional fights, I was consumed with stress, Saint-Denis recalls. You don’t know how you’re going to react to the big hits yet

After ten minutes of discussion, the former special forces admit that “everyone has it a little, the stress of the blows, the fear of the knockoutDifficult to do otherwise in a discipline where the opponent’s goal is to achieve your physical integrity, and where wide-open arcs are not uncommon. “It’s still a pretty tough sport, the person in front of you wants to rip your head off, there are serious injuries, sums up Daniel Woirin† Everyone’s scared, it’s not a football game.”

Anderson Silva for his fight against Israel Adesanya

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The pressure of the stake can also paralyze even the greatest. Few of the privileged can boast of making a living comfortably through MMA. When this is the case, entering the cage in the heart of the MGM Arena in Las Vegas or the largest stadiums, the pressure surrounding the performance is immense.

Daniel Woirin was part of the team of Anderson Silva, the UFC Middleweight World Champion, who reigned in his category for 11 years and is regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all. And even “The Spider”, who knocked out so many of his opponents, was no stronger than the pressure.

The more battles you have, the better you manage the emotion, explains Woirin. But with the wins comes the challenge. When I was with Anderson, he was a superstar. But when he went to war, he had a sick pressureEven a guy like Donald Cerrone, the welterweight in 54 fights in MMA and 24 in kickboxing, still feels that rush for the fateful moment.

Every time I’m just scared and just as nervous, says Cerrone. My legs are heavy. My arms are heavy. You sit there backstage watching the clock, because you have to see how many fights are left. […] For some reason this is the worst night of your life. I vomit every time.

Donald Cerrone

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Between the sporting stakes and the millions of dollars on the table, the emotions are inevitably aggravated. And when all forms of stress mix, the cocktail can sometimes be explosive. Maxime Petit has already seen the fighters he cares for lose before they enter the arena. †When you’re in a cage in front of thousands of people, you sometimes have ultra-violent emotional manifestationsexplains the mental trainer. Palpitations, sweating, the desire to leave, even for some‘ he breathes.

While coaching several athletes during his career, he has observed a recurring problem in MMA fighters when the pressure gets too high. †What am I doing here?’, I hear a lot. Here I come in“says Maxime Petit. For some, getting punched, giving it and seeing his blood-spattered pants lose its meaning at the decisive moment. These moments of doubt, however, are rarely discussed in this sport.

Fear, this taboo

Even Mike Tyson admits he was terrified before entering the ring“, says passionately Daniel Woirin. So why are the stories surrounding the fights never mentioning fear, pressure or other feelings of the same kind? Benoît Saint-Denis’ coach thinks he has the answer: “The fighters are a bit like the image of a warrior, the image of the macho who is going to fight with his sword. If he arrives and he’s scared, it’s hard…”

In fact, if the subject is already taboo in high-level sports in general, it is even more so in a sport like MMA. Even when great champions like Teddy Riner gently open the way by showing on screen that they are being followed by mental trainers, the reactions are sometimes epidermal when psychological follow-up is offered to fighters.

McGregor and Nate Diazo

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In the culture of combat you can’t have a weakness, it’s specific to MMAanalyzes Maxime Petit. Doing mental preparation is like admitting you have mental health problems“And even once the fighters are convinced to surrender to Maxime’s attentive ears, the taboo is hard to lift.”What I’m telling you here, you don’t repeat it to my trainer, I pass for a weakling“: This is the kind of phrase he hears a lot as his sessions come to an end.

Don’t be overwhelmed

Getting rid of the slightest fear seems to be the ultimate, even unconscious, goal among combatants. †But it’s good to have a little fear, objects Daniel Woirin, from his long experience. Fear allows you to be careful, this little lump in your stomach that keeps you on watch

In the case of the UFC, the fighters arrive at the fight site a week in advance. Photos, interviews, latest training sessions… the “fight week” is busy but misnamed. Because, according to Woirin, the goal is to downplay the drama. †We really try to get into the fight as late as possible. If you start dealing with your emotions a week before the fight, you’ll come in exhausted.” And this, whether it be from excitement, over-motivation or stress.

I’ve already seen young people get a boost during the week of the fight, got in the cage they ran out of juice, tell the coach, who avoids naming. A show like the UFC, you get to the edge of the cage, you see Will Smith, you gotta keep calmThe three rounds of five minutes, barefoot in the cage, where traces of blood testify to previous fights, will be long enough to feel the emotions in full force.

Almost all emotions are easy to take. Only, like all things in life, too much of it becomes bad. The secret is to handle it carefully and sparingly. Or to go through the army like Benoît Saint-Denis: “I’ve been shot before so fighting is less extreme“. A choice.

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