I never really felt like I needed to strengthen myself mentally; I honestly thought I was strong already.
After the video of me knocking out the tattooed bully went viral, I started to become recognized a lot more, and it never affected my performance. I even finished my first two fights inside the Octagon, on the biggest stages in MMA, and performed well.
But, having worked with Jeff Jordan from Fight Brain for the last eight months, I’m able to see major improvements in my mental toughness.
People still come up to me these days and ask about the viral video. It’s really been a roller coaster, from the video to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). It’s been three years since that fight and people still approach me and say “hey, thanks for showing that guy up and really showing that it’s not all about being intimidating and trying to instill fear into your opponent.”
It felt like I was delivering the justice that everyone wanted to see; it felt great for me, but it felt great for everyone. I was on a high for like a whole month when that whole thing went down and my confidence just shot up through the roof.
The video put me in a position to help kids who have been bullied and lack confidence, kind of like me when I was younger. And even though I was confident in my skills, I knew there was still work to do, so when Jeff reached out, I said “sure, let’s do it.”
Jeff and I meet on Skype every week and he helps me mentally prepare, either through hypnosis or visualization. I feel like it’s really improved how I perform out in the Octagon, and you saw it in my last fight against Geane Herrera. I was just so relaxed in that fight; I was just so clear and calm, you can see it.
Hypnosis is a way of focusing and being in the moment you’re trying to project. So, for instance, if I want to simulate being in a fight that night, Jeff is gonna go through this whole process of getting me calmed down, and getting my mind to shut off every other thought and just think about being at the fight. It’s almost like simulating the fight without being there, and I felt like that really helped me prepare so that there weren’t any surprises when I got into the Octagon.
Jeff goes through everything like a narrator: the bright lights, seeing the crowd, getting your gloves checked out before you walk into the Octagon, walking into the cage and doing your little run around thing in the Octagon.
In addition to visualization and hypnosis, Jeff and I work on a technique called anchoring. It’s a way to bring back feelings of confidence when you best performed by doing a physical action. So, for me, I anchor by clenching my fist and saying the word “control.” That brings back those feelings of confidence inside of me