It hasn't been an easy couple years for Team Alpha Male's Chris Holdsworth.
Holdsworth seemed to have nothing but sunshine in his future as recently as two years ago, when he followed up his bantamweight victory in The Ultimate Fighter 18 tournament with a win over Chico Camus at UFC 173.
But Holdsworth has struggled since with concussion-related issues and hasn't fought since. And he admitted on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour that adjusting to the idea that he might never fight again has made for a difficult transition.
"I went through this whole depression thing," Holdsworth said. "I couldn't accept the fact, I couldn't understand why it was happening to me, and just everyone constantly asking you when you fighting again. It's a real sensitive subject. I had to accept that fact, what if I can't fight again, what if I choose not to? That's something I had to accept. After I accepted that, I felt so much better just on overall outlook on life and my future."
However, learning to let go of the things you can't control can often lead to positive results in life, a lesson Holdsworth has learned. Holdsworth has stepped up to help fill the leadership vacuum at the famed Sacramento gym.
In the wake of the departures of former coaches Duane Ludwig and Martin Kampmann and former UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, Holdsworth has moved into a coaching role at the gym, joining a crew of longtime TAM fighters who have stepped up.
"Right now I'm an assistant coach, we have Justin Buchholz, who runs a majority of the pro classes, and myself and Danny Castillo who have stepped up and helped out a lot with that," Holdsworth said. "I'm running the fighter jiu-jitsu classes, we have three classes a week with the pro guys along with some of the gym members do that class as well. I'm in charge of that as well as breaking down people's fights that are coming up and focusing more on jiu-jitsu."
Holdsworth, a jiu-jitsu black belt under Marc Laimon, has always enjoyed teaching, but had to put it aside in order to pursue a full-time fighting career.
"I felt like I had something to offer the team," Holdsworth said. "I'm all about giving back and sharing my experiences through what I've been through and just reflecting during my journey. I feel like this coaching staff we have now, there's not too many people who have this experience as far as fighting in the cage and also coaching. The squad we have now ... we've got tons of coaches and tons and of resources and this next generation of guys coming up are going to make waves."
There was quite some noise made about the upheaval among Team Alpha Male in recent months. As anyone who follows the sport who can tell you, after gym founder Urijah Faber split ways with Ludwig, Dillsahaw chose to go to Colorado with Ludwig, training there for his title loss to Dominick Cruz. Many within the camp have offered their opinions and there has been speculation about the future of other TAM fighters.
But if Holdsworth favors one party over the other, he's keeping it to himself.
"There's no drama for me, no drama for the team, Faber and TJ, whatever happened between them and whatever decision TJ made was probably best decision for him," Holdsworth said. "You can't knock someone for doing what's best for them. I can see both sides of it. But I can't hate on someone for doing what they think is best to them. More power to him, hopefully he has a successful rest of his career. I try not to get involved in the drama."
Instead, Holdsworth would rather devote his energy to helping the gym turn the page after a turbulent chapter.
"For the team to invest and believe in a system, you kind of have to believe in the coaches as well and it wasn't just happening for [Ludwig and Kampmann]," Holdsworth said. "Then with all those losses and stuff, it just kind of sparked the fire, we need to step up a little more, we need to make things happen. And why not take advantage of the resources we already have on this team? Why get outside coaches when we have it right here?"
By getting a hand back into the game as a coach, Holdsworth feels he's turned a corner on his recent struggles. It's given him a sense of cautious optimism that he may get cleared to compete again some day.
"I'm still taking some time and focusing on my recovery, there's no rush to jump back in there," Holdsworth said. "Believe me, I can still hop in there and hang with the best in the world. I'm still training every day, I still have the fire lit, but I have to be honest and be smart overall about my future."