Depression is one opponent who is tough to beat…. but is not undefeated
Sports is all about winning. We train to win, we visualize winning, and we try to manifest winning by always staying positive. But in sports, not everyone gets to win all the time. Consider the fact that in today’s UFC, there are just over 700+ active fighters on the roster, but there are only 12 weight classes (8 men, 4 women) which means only a handful of people reach the top. Then consider this, out of the small number of champions, how many have never lost? Outside of Khabib who was a rare, generational talent, there is no one. People can make arguments for Jon Jones too, and I am on board with that, but there is no mistaking he has lost much more outside of the cage than in it.
So, what happens when we train hard, but come up short on the day of the tournament or on fight night? First, you feel down. It’s okay to feel that way. You trained, you studied, you practiced, but it just wasn’t enough. It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that someone else may have been more prepared, or sometimes just luckier than you. When we lose, our minds tend to replay the events over and over in our minds and many times we envision the outcome being different if we just did one little thing differently.
While feeling like this is normal, it also needs to be a feeling that goes away quickly. People may tell you, “Oh, forget about it, you’ll get ‘em next time”. The truth is you will never forget. However, it’s what you do with that memory that will make the difference. 

That is where acceptance comes in. I’m not talking about being okay with losing, I’m talking about accepting the fact that it wasn’t your night, but tomorrow is brand new. If you remember the “good old days” of boxing when title fights used to be on ABC for everyone to watch, they had a classic line that talked about the “Agony of Defeat”.
Sports psychologists have studied this at great length and have learned that refusal to accept an outcome, or dwelling on a singular negative thought for an extended period of time can draw people into a lengthy bout of depression. Depression is one opponent who is tough to beat…. but is not undefeated. But like a determined fighter, it always comes back. 
the best in the world 
sometimes lose
I’ve competed in countless tournaments and fights and have been involved the fight game for just about my entire life. The best in the world sometimes lose. Look at “The Greatest”. Muhammed Ali lost 5 times, but does anyone really care? Did that stop him from still proclaiming himself to be the best of all time? Hardly.
Also consider Royce Gracie, one of the modern pioneers of mixed martial arts and one of the biggest names in UFC history. He lost twice in his career, but again, no one really cares, and it’s obvious the UFC doesn’t either as they made him their very first entrant into their Hall of Fame.
These examples I gave you highlight successful athletes that simply had off nights and came back. But what happens when you first get started and start with a loss? It sounds horrible, but it happens…even to the best of fighters. For those of you that remember Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, this is a story you should know.
“The Executioner” 
Hopkins made his pro debut in 1988 and lost a 4-round decision to Clinton Mitchell who was also making his debut. At the time, Hopkins was all-in on boxing. He barely made enough money to get by washing dishes at a Philadelphia hotel so this was all he had. 
So, when he lost, he took it hard. Hopkins was quoted as saying he underestimated his opponent, but accepted the loss and told the press that it motivated him to become a better boxer and a better person. He then took a 16-month break to get his mind right and came back to win 22 fights in a row, cementing his place in the boxing hall of fame.
55 wins
35 ko's
8 losses
What Hopkins was able to do, and what I want for all of you to learn, is that no matter the reason for the loss, it happened. It’s okay to feel down but understand that moving on from a loss starts with acceptance and then evolves into a renewed focus on a new task. 
I think a lot of you already understand this concept in a different context in life. Have you ever been broken up with? It hurts. You can play tough, but it hurts. However, the best way to overcome the flood of negative thoughts is productive activity. Some people throw themselves at their work, some at the gym, and some move their focus to a hobby. It’s about keeping the mind occupied on a task. When we have tasks, we are able to have accomplishments. It’s those accomplishments that keep us going and let us know we’re on the right track.
So, if it wasn’t your night, it’s okay to be disappointed, but once you accept that it happened, find a task to occupy your mind as soon as you can. It could be a training milestone at the gym, it could be entering a new competition, or it could lead you to learning new things. Either way, occupying the mind is the key to not dwelling on past defeats. I discussed the topic of thought-stopping in a previous newsletter, and that also applies here.

keep training hard and putting yourself out there
Victory comes from preparation and confidence, so if you came up short last time, it’s not over. Hell, it’s far from over. What you need is a new focus, and a new target or objective to overcome. If you struggle to find one, talk to your coach, or trainer, or friends from the gym. I promise you; they know what defeat is like and they still come back the next day. It’s that camaraderie that can help keep you going. 
Remember, this is a learned skill, not something you can fix with a pill or something that just happens overnight.

Don’t be afraid of losing, just embrace it as part of the journey. What happens after a loss highlights the difference between quitters and fighters. Fighters sometimes lose, but they never quit. Like the Greatest once said, “I never thought of losing but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right”.
I'll see you in the next one,
-Steven Williams

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