Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
What a difference 10 years can make. That is the age difference between me and my next opponent, Michael McDonald, and I can safely say I'm happier at 31 than I was at 21. I'm significantly better, too.
Case in point; my last UFC victory over Nick Pace in November. The Pace win was a good one for me, because it highlighted just where I'm at right now in my development and also showed how I have improved over the years.
When I was cutting weight for the fight, I received a phone call and was told Pace would be six pounds over at the scales, which is never the sort of information you want to hear while shedding weight of your own. Anyway, I had a think about the situation and then realized I'd be going up against a guy weighing between 155 and 160 pounds come fight time. I came to the conclusion that he had deliberately come in heavy and would look to try and land his big right hand as early as possible.
Knowing this, I had to resist the urge to go out and fight crazy on raw emotion, and instead settle down and fight with my brains. Pace desperately wanted me to revert to my old ways and start swinging for the fences, but I wasn't going to give him the easy route to victory. I had to fight smart, use my superior skills and experience and beat him everywhere the fight went. Which I did.
A few years ago I may have fought Pace with emotion and been so annoyed with him missing weight that I left my brains in the changing room and walked into a big right hand. That was the way I thought about stuff back when I was a kid. It was all emotion. All machismo and heart. I've had to adjust and mature in recent times, though, because I've come to realize you need way more than just skills and raw emotion to succeed at the very top of this sport.
I try not to feel anger and never seek out revenge. More importantly, I try not to look to much into my past results and instead prefer to focus on the future. I've achieved a lot of things in this sport – stuff I'm proud to have achieved – but have also slipped up when I know I shouldn't have. That's just the nature of this sport, though, and also the nature of life. You're always going to have to take the rough with the smooth and, so long as you learn from it, you can look forward to what the future may bring.
My future centers on a 21-year-old opponent called Michael McDonald, who I will face on April 21st at UFC 145. He doesn't care about my past successes or failings, as none of that will matter when the time comes to step into the Octagon and compete. We will both be given three rounds in which to show our dominance and superiority and then the next day will begin. Mixed martial arts is all about capitalizing on that short period of time and using everything you can – including training, rehearsing and past experiences – to project the best version of yourself you can find.
I remember being 21 years of age and I remember a lot of recklessness and hotheadedness that came with it. I'm 31 now, a full ten years older than my opponent, and can safely say I'm twice the fighter I was a decade ago. I'm wiser, stronger – physically and mentally – and am able to appreciate victories a whole lot more. I've learned from my mistakes and used them to improve and further my skills. Michael McDonald is 21 and has only lost one of his 15 professional fights. He hasn't had to rally back from adversity the way I have and he hasn't had to look at himself in the mirror and do some serious soul-searching.
One day that will come, though, and I plan on providing McDonald with a substantial slice of adversity come April 21.
Bantamweight star Miguel Torres fights Michael McDonald on Sat., April 21st at UFC 145. UFC 145 is live on pay-per-view.
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