So Much Preparation Squeezed into a Tiny Space
After the build up of trash talk, promoting and mental aggression—fight day has arrived.
What goes through your mind on fight day?
What makes you tick? Do you have fears, doubt, expectations or butterflies?
There are some types who prefer solitude on fight day. There are some types who want to party or be social on fight day. But why do those types do what they do?
Does the social type use the entertainment to distract them from the nerves? You sit there in your hotel trying to chill out, nibbling on left overs from last night’s post weigh-in dinner.
I’ve always had the issue where I would get so nervous that I couldn’t even eat food even though I was supposed to after cutting weight.
Visions the approaching fight are always running through my head. I always thought the worst part of fight day would be the waiting. Waiting until the time you wake up to the time to drive down to the venue. I would always glance at the clock, knowing it’s not even close to time. The nerves from waiting would be eating me alive.
Sometimes I would get stir crazy and feel the need to get up and shadowbox in my hotel room. Maybe put on my new fight gear I had packed and see how I look in the mirror—anything to pass the time. Why does it seem like all the nerves want to come crashing down on you in one day? You didn’t feel a bit of this during fight camp, you knew what was coming. At a certain point in your career you have to stop and ask yourself, “When will the nerves go away?”
It’s okay to be nervous or scared. If you are not, then something is wrong. What are your fears of fight day? Is it losing? If so, then what is so scary about losing? Losing is apart of the game and losing is what helps you learn and become a better fighter. So why does it seem so scary?
Maybe it’s a personal fear of losing to an opponent you believe you are above. Or perhaps you don’t want to be the center of gossip of fighters that are losing on the circuit. My biggest fear was not providing an excellent show for the fans, that’s what always mattered to me.
On Facebook, you would see your timeline blowing up with support from your family and friends wishing you good luck. There would always be those few guys saying, “Kick his ass! Destroy him!” I always felt like those type of encouragements were just silly, but support is support no matter how it comes out.
Most people think about their opponent and study any footage they have to make game plans and strategy. I would watch videos of my favorite Muay Thai fighters and derive courage and determination through seeing their performances, maybe even try to mimic them. As you think, so shall you become. Everyone has their different rituals for fight day.
And so the time has come, you’re on your way to the venue in the car with your cornerman. You have your earphones in and listening to whatever gets you in the zone, because it’s show time. Me, personally, I like to crank some Michael Jackson or some Backstreet Boys to get that beast mode switch flipped on. (Don’t judge me.)
Now you’re sitting in the rules meeting to listen to instructions you already know, and have heard over and over again. It’s times like these you wonder to yourself if your opponent is feeling the same anxiety you are. One thing I always tell myself is that if I am feeling really nervous, I would believe that my opponent has it a lot worse than I do—mainly because he is fighting me.
After the rules meeting, it’s time to go back to the locker room. You can hear hip hop music and the ruckus of people filling the seats in the arena. Maybe you want to take a peek outside. You can see the lights have changed and people are everywhere.
Things get a little bit real.
Some fighters like to stay in the locker room until it’s time to fight. Me, on the other hand, I like to watch the show. I come out, find an empty seat and enjoy some of the fights that are before mine. It gives me a good idea of what the crowd is like and the atmosphere.
I LOVED being one of the first fights. When you’re the first fight, you get in, get work done and get out, you have the entire show to enjoy with your family and friends in the stands. Those days have long passed. I haven’t been one of the opening bouts on a fight card since, maybe, 2010.
After all the fights and intermissions, now it’s your turn to show what you’ve got. Backstage, you’ve started to warm up. Your coach has lathered Thai oil all over you. The burning and warm sensation wakes your body up.
After a few rounds on the pads, you become something else. The nerves don’t seem to settle in anymore. This is what you are and where you belong. One of the event handlers enters your locker room and gives you the signal to get ready. It’s time to walk to the ring.
You’ve got your mongkol and garland on, and you have the look of focus while you wait. The crowd cheers over the ring announcer’s announcement of the next bout, and out you go. The chilled air of the event floor plows right through your warm and sweating body. People are cheering and clapping for you, it’s exhilarating. You enter the ring and see your opponent on the other side. At this moment you realize, this is exciting.
Why was I nervous? What was I worried about? Let’s do this!
I am a fighter and it’s FIGHT DAY.