Normally, most fighters keep things that involve their professional career bottled up inside. Former UFC fighter, Vinny Magalhaes, gave some insight into his psyche about the failures in his career. It is a long read, but worth your time if you want to grasp what is really going on in the heads of some of these guys.
Well, about a year ago everyone thought I was retired from professional fighting, because of a post-fight comment I made in my last fight for WSOF. I never should’ve used the word retired, because I still enjoy doing what I do very much. I enjoy competing as I’ve always enjoyed it since my first weeks of Jiu-Jitsu training back in the late 90’s.
Instead of saying that I was retiring, maybe I should’ve just said that I needed some time off. time off to focus on other areas that have consumed too much of my time and most importantly, my mind.
The last fight I was able to train like an athlete was my fight against Matt Hamill, almost 2 years ago. After that fight, I was able to manage to get another win in April of last year. It was my first ever win by decision. Up until that point, all of my wins in MMA had been by submission or TKO. Even though I won that fight with a broken hand, it was the type of matchup that I should’ve secured a quick finish. I still managed to go to a 29-28 decision, winning the first two rounds and losing the last one to an opponent that had all his losses coming via submission to much lesser grapplers than I.
After that fight, I was forced to take some time off because of my broken hand. Even a fight that I was pre-scheduled to fight in July (before signing for the April fight) had been cancelled because of my injury. I ended up having to fight for the WSOF title in October after coming off a hand surgery, changing camps, changing my striking coach, and not feeling mentally or physically prepared for it.
Yet, I still felt like I had to do it and it that had nothing to do with the “warrior spirit” BS that some people use as a reason for why they make those not-so-well-thought-out decisions. I did it because I also had just started my own Jiu-Jitsu program and I needed to take the fight. At that point, fighting and sponsorships were my main source of income, as my new BJJ program was far from being profitable.
That was the fight which during the post-fight interview, out of frustration, I said I wasn’t going to fight anymore. The fact was, that with a loss, I ended up making half of what I could have made if I had won. Time off, retirement, or whatever break I needed to take at that moment was never really an option.
Roughly 3 weeks after that fight, there was the Eddie Bravo Invitational Absolute in which I could have potentially made up to $50k. So, no matter what problems I was going through during that period, I was planning on taking a shot at winning that tournament. If anything; Simply to make up for that extra money that I didn’t make during my last fight. I didn’t get in it with that huge desire to compete, though. Yes, I had to win it all in order to make the money. However, I didn’t have that drive that I normally have when I enter a competition. All I was thinking about was the money, which was not even the reason why I’ve won most of my titles. I’ve won most, if not all of them because I wanted those titles so badly. Money was only a consequence from winning them, but never the reason.
This last year, I haven’t been able to be consistent with training or perform at my best during competition. This weekend I came to realize that the time off that I needed a year ago, it’s way past due.
Soon after losing to Orlando Sanchez (who more than deservingly beat me at my very best) in the ADCC 2015, I believed that I had come so prepared to this event this year, that no one would stop me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t half the athlete or half of the man (physically and mentally) that I was in 2015.
I ended up eliminated in round two in my division. For the first time since I started competing in the ADCC, I pulled my name from the ‘Absolute’ bracket; Even after my name was already in it. That was the moment I started to accept my limitations to compete at the highest level; If I can’t dedicate my life to it the way I should, in order to get the results I know I deserve.
I’m not saying by any means that I’m not competing anymore, nor that I’m not fighting anymore. I just can’t be putting it on the line without being 100%. I can’t put it all on the line when I’m training like a regular Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast with his full-time job; Doing his little 40 minute sessions three times a week to compete against guys with the mindset that I currently don’t have.
Instead, I should be training like a professional. These bad results haven’t been fun at all and I don’t want to be easy work for anyone. With that being said, I’m still thankful for all the support that I get from my family, friends, students, and sponsors; Who, even during this dark period, have been on my side.