The champion mindset

There are a lot of opinions and discussions out there about what it takes to be a champion.  This applies to mostly everything.  When people reference athletes though, the most common topics to come up are things like how hard someone trains, the way they train, how they treat their body, what they do for recovery perhaps, and finally, their mindset.

“Champions make habits, not excuses.”  “Champions go the extra mile/round.”  “Champions don’t quit.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?

I wanted to write about this after seeing the UFC 207 post fight press conference with Amanda Nunes?  Did you all catch it?  It honestly made me love her even more and it spoke volumes to me about her frame of mind and why I consider he to be a true champion.

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Now let’s keep in mind how hyped this fight was.  It was rumoured months before the UFC confirmed it and it was high up on the list of fan requests.  Rousey making her big ‘comeback’ after a 13 month layoff and Nunes defending her belt for the first time.  After a victory like this, in environment that encourages smack talk, it would have been so easy for Nunes to be glib or arrogant in her responses.

Some people are immediately commented on Nunes ‘attitude’ post fight claiming she was arrogant in her interview with Joe Rogan in the cage.  I personally felt like she exuded confidence, walking that fine, sometimes indistinguishable line between arrogance and confidence.  At the end of the day though, haters gonna hate.

In the post fight press conference, Nunes fielded some pretty awkward yet obvious questions and I believe she handled things exceptionally well.

When she was asked how she felt about the promotion for UFC 207 being so one sided Nunes said that she had expected it.  She acknowledged that Rousey was the draw card for this fight and went on to say that she had asked Dana White for this fight and she ok with the promotion running in this fashion.  In return, it was in her favour to fight a big name.

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Nunes was asked about how she felt about the pay discrepancies and she said she was happy. She didn’t care. It allows her to buy a house, to look after her family and to help her take care of people that have helped her along the way.  It is the largest pay Nunes has received for any fight and she was just happy.  She said ‘I don’t know (how much I will be paid), but it’s gonna be a lot of money’ as she grinned from ear to ear.

She was asked if she felt bad for Rousey and Tate, having potentially retired the two biggest names in the division.  Her response?  ‘There is a lot of talent in this division and people need to see that.  Now people won’t only be talking about Rousey or Nunes.’

When asked about who should be her next opponent, Nunes says she doesn’t care. She will be ready for anyone.

It is so clear that Nunes is a passionate, driven fighter.  I think we all know that the reality is, fighting seldom makes you rich and famous.  Nunes talked and acknowledged that her win was not only good for her, but for the other talented women who have busted their guts getting to the UFC.  Of course she wants some recognition in the future, but I feel like that is just plain logic.

On the opposite side to this, it is no secret that I am not a Rousey fan.  Even when she was famous and on her winning streak I was not a fan.  However, taking 13 months off after a loss (and granted a very nasty knockout) is not, in my opinion, how a champion thinks.  A 13 month layoff is not something (barring surgeries and serious injuries) that I can really comprehend.  Losses are a part of any competitive sport.  And in fighting, when you look at it, when you walk into that cage (or ring), there are only really two possible outcomes (failing a draw which is incredibly unlikely at this level).   You win or you lose.

To be fair, Rousey is not totally to blame.  The UFC have enabled her to behave as she pleases.  They have enabled her extreme ‘time off’ and allowed her to shirk her media responsibilities.  And now, after yet another loss, it is likely she will not return to MMA.

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When Tate lost to Nunes, she still showed up to the post fight conference.  Tate being another example of an athlete who has the grace and mentality of a champion.  Rousey was no where to be found after both of her losses.

I’m stoked to see Nunes as champion again.  I think she is the prime example of the hard work, commitment and mentality that it takes to be a champion.  Every athlete is different.  Every athlete trains in a different way.  I guess I would just like to see more champions conduct themselves in the way that Nunes does.

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