By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
When imagining a fight, visions of hand wraps, bright fluorescent lights, a canvas, and similarly weighted opponents may encroach the forefront of your thoughts. Truth is, many walks of life engage in some form of battle on a regular basis, evidenced by daily encounters with conflict met with the placement of one foot in front of the other. After eight years of dedication, Chris Olech bound a collection of practices implemented by many of the greatest minds in combat sports to act as your daily cornerman in his tome: The Fighter Within: Everyone Has A Fight-Insights into the minds and souls of true champions (2016):
So, I ask you: what is your fight? What is your place in life? Truly ponder this question; use it and the humility of martial arts to create a better you, whether it be with your family, your friends, your work, or anything else. Let it take over your thoughts and use it to set those goals that you can systematically achieve over time. By the time you reach the final chapter of this book, you will see that these processes hold true for some of the best in the world. (p. 17)
What’s It About?
Much of the wisdom found within this book is from wiser and more experienced people than I, which can and should be applied to daily life and in one’s career. Some teachings may seem new, but they have been passed on for generations because they are warrior-tested and perfected. One thing is for certain: it takes the application of our gifts to be successful. (p. 182)
Olech paints a panoramic mural with his words to portray The Fighter Within all of us does not require a bell as an alert to set any plans into motion:
Every one of the events I went through in my life, good or bad, shaped and molded me. My good nature, respectful approach toward people, mental strength, and never-say-die attitude are all attributable to my upbringing and milestones in life. We all have a story; we all have a battle to fight and goals that we are striving for in the rat race of life. (p. 16)
Instead of passively ascertaining the cognition of those who have stood at, or continue to inch toward, the pinnacle of martial endeavors, Olech inked his firsthand experience after embedding himself in the same atmosphere as the many tactical minds who adorned main events around the globe on the grandest stages: rings or cages. An observation Olech noted during a Paradise Warrior Retreat, a set of seminars featuring top-flight talent from the ground to the tallest of stances,
What I noticed right away was that even the big guys were still students of the game; Demien [Maia] was enthralled with Rob Kaman’s training, Matt Serra was super attentive to Demian Maia’s techniques, Jeff Joslin was taking in all that Babalu [Sobral] was demonstrating, and so on. It was a great thing to see that they still felt they had a lot to learn, even at the elite level. (p. 63-64)
According to Olech, idly picking up what he laid down on the page will not yield the payoff you may be seeking. Effectiveness pixelates upon an application of instruction, and Olech manifested this universal truth when revisiting his entrance and success in one of jiu-jitsu’s largest tournaments: Grappler’s Quest:
I had yet again learned how to approach my goals systematically to get the best results. I sacrificed time with my family, took away the things I craved (food), outworked others in preparation, and kept a strong mind and focus on the prize as I resisted situations trying to pry that focus away. This was the winning formula–one that I could also apply to my everyday life experiences and to help others as well. (p. 114)
The Fighter Within successfully sculpted the frame of mind required to champion your daily grind, though Olech cited a favorite author of his to wrangle the idea for consumption,
Napolean Hill, one of the greatest writers on the genre of personal success, was quoted as saying, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that. When mixed with certainty of purpose, and burning desire, thoughts can be translated into riches.” (p. 186)
Learning From the Best
From cover to cover, The Fighter Within is littered with names paramount in combat sports. The individuals featured via Olech’s pen peel back their layers of experience and knowledge, morphing their impossible feats of physical fortitude into day-in and day-out drive.
In the case of Matt Olson, co-owner of the gym attached to names like Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar: API (Athletic Performance Inc.), it all begins with a solid foundation,
“The basics must be established before an athlete can progress to advanced levels. You would be amazed at how many pro athletes have so many basic physical issues. In my experience, MMA fighters have the worst agility and hand strength issues when weights don’t come with handles.” (p. 36)
Once the fundamental scaffolds are in place to aid stability, John Danaher, a genius who can roll with a myriad of discussions or other jiu-jitsu players with crafty complexity, would suggest that you to check-in with yourself and your sphere of influence,
He thought this [training at Renzo Gracie’s gym] was fascinating and considered himself extremely fortunate as a student, learning from excellent teachers and grapplers that would always make John ask himself: “Is there anything more I could be doing to make myself and the people around me happier?” (p. 81)
The text exemplified Danaher’s divergent thinking in an area repeated as prerequisite in achievement: mental toughness, though Danaher pushed aside such a notion,
“You can give me the toughest guy in the world, the toughest, roughest, meanest man, if he can’t swim when thrown in the ocean, he’ll break in three seconds. But you take a fourteen-year old kid who had six swimming lessons, thrown in the ocean, he would be fine. What people call mental toughness is much more the case that they have been dropped in these situations that most people will break in, but they’re so familiar with them through repetition, through immersion, through being put in those tough situations so many times that they feel comfortable enough. Because they’re comfortable, they can formulate a plan of escape. They can hatch a plan for victory, so they can endure tremendous hardship and prevail.” (p. 85)
When Olech sat down with Rashad Evans, former UFC light heavyweight champion, it propped open the reader’s eyes to how debilitating Evans’ fear was the night before his fight against, arguably, the scariest man on the planet at that time in the UFC: Chuck Liddell. The visualization technique imparted onto Evans from Randy Couture, a former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion in the UFC, cracked the door that many opt to leave shut and locked:
Rashad told Randy that he was scared and nervous going into this fight. Randy acknowledged that he knew exactly what Rashad was going through and that he needed to make friends with the worst possible outcome of the match. He told him to truly make friends with the feelings, and imagine the most embarrassing things happening to him. Only then would he be able to compete to the best of his abilities, being content in the fact that no matter what, the sun was still going to rise the next day and the people who loved him would still love him the next day,–life would go on. (p. 92-93)
If Couture’s methodology doesn’t vibe with your style, it may behoove you to soak in the wisdom passed on to some of the greatest mixed martial artists to receive coaching from Firas Zihabi. Zihabi addresses moments of strife saying,
“…Flow with the go.” (p. 158)
Over the course of pushing forward and finding your footholds, Rich Franklin, former UFC middleweight champ, reminded everyone who inserts the many teachings found in The Fighter Within to not lose sight of the scenery along the way,
“People don’t realize that you get so…[pausing to find the right words] it’s so much a heavy search for results in life that you forget that the journey is the most important. I think with me, that’s what happened. Suddenly, I had the title and the world was moving so fast all of a sudden, and I did not realize that what was the most important was the journey to get there!” (p. 141)
The concepts and athletes presented are merely a skeleton of what’s included throughout The Fighter Within. At the conclusion of the book, you’ll unmask, or become better acquainted with, your fighter within, too.
It took a couple of years before we would meet up again, mainly due to my stubborn attempt to conduct our interviews in person. I really wanted to be able to feed off his [Rashad Evans’] energy and read his thought processes, which would be diminished over the phone. (p. 91)
As a fan of martial arts, mixed or otherwise, and a proponent of massaging the growth mindset, I valued Olech’s patient tenacity to extend great lengths to complete his interviews with legends in the realm of combat sports. Participating in conversations outside the sterility of a device, Olech breathed life into a context that would have otherwise escaped; thereby, his efforts and quality in creating The Fighter Within is deserving of five out of five stars.
Thanks to Olech’s crafting of The Fighter Within, we don’t have to step in a cage or put our pulse on the line to lasso a similar degree of Rashad Evans’ happiness, summarized by the author as,
He said it felt like another life; the world he grew up in was full of struggle and harsh reality. He never imagined that this would be his life. He was genuinely appreciative when shaking the hands of fans while signing autographs. When he was younger, he played with action figures of his television idols, and now he was in that category. It was surreal that so many positive things resulted from simply doing something that made him happy. (p. 94)
To pick up your copy of The Fighter Within (link here).
Stephen Thompson wants Rafael dos Anjos in contender eliminator bout
Over the weekend, Rafael dos Anjos defeated Robbie Lawler at UFC Fight Night: Winnipeg, in dominant fashion via unanimous decision. The main event of the Canadian event was Dos Anjos’ third victory in as many fights at welterweight. The former UFC lightweight champion moved up in weight after suffering two consecutive losses. First, relinquishing his championship title to Eddie Alvarez, then falling to current interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson. Although the Brazilian had fought at the 155-pound weight limit exclusively in his career, his weight cut in order to reach the lightweight limit is admittedly brutal.
When talking with FloCombat, the top welterweight contender claimed, “It is not worth it [the weight cut] considering the amount I’m earning today. This was one of my motivations to change to welterweight. I don’t need to kill myself and earn this salary.” He further explained the agony of making the weight limit, “I want to avoid those last 15 pounds. That is terror and panic. It’s almost death. I don’t need to face that anymore. I want to fight well and happy, get in there strong and in good shape”.
Now that Dos Anjos has arrived at welterweight with such success, he believes he deserves a shot at Tyron Woodley and the 170-pound belt.
Am'I the only one that thinks that this fight should be for a interim title? Since the champ is out until next year?
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) October 12, 2017
This is a sentiment that UFC president Dana White seems to agree with. At the Toronto press conference, White fielded a question on whether or not the winner of the Lawler vs. Dos Anjos match-up would yield a title contender, “Yup,” he responded. Later in the press event, White further clarified Dos Anjos’ position in the welterweight ranks, “(RDA) just had a great win to get himself back into contention and a win over Robbie Lawler obviously would do it”.
Yet, another top-ranked welterweight does not agree. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson wants a third crack at welterweight gold, and he believes Dos Anjos is his ticket back to title contention.
That was a WAR! Hats off to both RDA and Robbie for that effort! I can be back in the Octagon this March. @RdosAnjosMMA , let’s give the fans another treat. We both want gold, it’s only fitting we battle for it! @ufc #UFCWinnipeg @danawhite
— Stephen Thompson (@WonderboyMMA) December 17, 2017
What makes this challenge intriguing? The status of current welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. Last week, Woodley announced on his TMZ show, The Hollywood Beatdown, he would be having surgery. The champion stated, “I’m going to go ahead and get this shoulder repaired. I’ve been saying, ‘You know what, I don’t want to get it cut on, I don’t want to get it repaired.’ But if there’s no fight that really makes a ton of sense for me to take the risk, to not be 100 percent with my shoulder, then I’m going to go ahead and have it repaired. They’re not going to do a full orthopedic rehabilitation, but they’re going to do a scope and they’re going to anchor down some sides. Then I’m going to get some PRP (platelet-rich plasma), some stem cells.” A timetable for his return is not readily available.
As the division stands, the truly deserving of the next welterweight title shot would be either Thompson or Dos Anjos. The recent credentials of both garner such status. Thompson most recently defeated rising contender, Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217. Before his early November victory over Masvidal, the undefeated kick-boxer challenged for the belt twice, consecutively. While he was unsuccessful in both attempts to earn the belt, each fight was extremely close. The first of which, scored a majority draw.
*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results
The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.
An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.
The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.
UFC Winnipeg Official Results:
MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT
- #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
- Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
- #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45 round 1
PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT
- #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
- Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
- Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
- John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
- Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2
EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT
- Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando
The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) December 14, 2017
Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.
It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.
Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.
In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.
Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.
In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.
UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
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