Fighting is a rough business. When you lose, you don’t just lose money. When you lose, you tend to lose some brain cells. Win or lose, your ability to perform can diminish due to the accumulation of damage over time. Nobody can outrun time and nobody can stay perfect if they stay in the game long enough.
At UFC 230 I was fortunate to share the battleground at MSG alongside some great talent on the way up, fully established, and in the last years, if not moments, of their careers. All the warriors walked into the arena with their mind set on victory, and at the end of the day only half walked away victorious. Not everyone can take a W home with them, this is the agreement we all accept when we agree to compete.
I have been on both sides personally and as a coach. We can be defined by that one performance or we can understand that it is a long road filled with daily obstacles that we overcome. We can wallow in defeat, or revel beyond reality with a solid victory. In truth, those few minutes we spend fighting after months of training only partially define us. We are the sum total of our work, not a moment in time.
We are what we allow ourselves to be. In victory or defeat we define the lesson of that moment and decide how we will carry it forward. Everything has value. Our greatest victory can be our greatest personal defeat and our greatest loss can be the wisest teacher. No matter what, we have to get up the day after and decide how we are going to live.
If your career has run its course, it’s a beautiful thing. If you are a young gun looking all the rich possibility the future holds, it is a beautiful thing. To live life by your own terms and to do what the massive majority of this world is incapable of, that is a special thing only a few people can call their own. The value you can bring to those around you will be your true legacy. It is a long life; we can only fight for so many years. How you use that time in the arena to influence the remainder of your days is everything.
The real battle is not in the Octagon. The real battle comes after. Be the warrior you are every day and fight for the life of your choosing.