Tanner Boser is not taking back his controversial comments about fighters and mental coaches, but he wants to make it clear what was actually said and the context of it.
Boser, who faces fellow heavyweight Rodrigo Nascimento on Saturday at UFC Vegas 60, recently did an interview with The AllStar Sports and referred to the fighters as “weak.” Since then, he’s received a lot of backlash, mostly because fans perceived the comment as a shot toward anybody who is dealing with mental health issues.
For Boser, it absolutely wasn’t that, but he still stands by what he says when it comes to mental coaches in combat sports.
“I wasn’t talking about people who need therapists, or have things that are terrible that are going on in their life and need to talk to a therapist, or anything,” Boser told MMA Fighting on Heck of a Morning. “I was talking about the sport, a sports psychologist, something specific only to combat sports, which exists and are kind of popular right now – it’s a pretty in thing. That’s what I was referring to as a mental coach, these guys that people pay or employ somehow who are outside their immediate circle in the gym.
“I have coaches, obviously: I have my MMA coach, my striking coach, my wrestling coach, jiu-jitsu coach, all of these guys are my coaches. Especially with [the coaches] I’ve been with a long, long time, I learn from them in more ways than just a skill-wise way. I look up to these guys and I try to emulate them in a lot of different ways, so I guess, in some ways, if you want to look at it in that way, I guess they [can be] my mental coaches.
“What I am talking about is, I don’t understand, I can’t get behind, and I do think that a fighter is weak if they have to bring in someone who doesn’t know them, who doesn’t train with them, [or] they don’t even know the sport. Most of these guys are outside the realm that you live within, so I wouldn’t listen to some person who knows nothing about fighting, what goes on in a fight, or the lead up to a fight, or are in your training camp. They don’t know that stuff. They can’t. Even if they think they do, they haven’t done it. They don’t know. I wouldn’t listen to that guy tell me how to train, or tell me how to fight, so why would I listen to him try to help me think about fighting?”
“If you need to listen to that guy to convince yourself that you’re ready for a fight, or that you’re going to win this fight, or whatever your problem may be, a guy who doesn’t know whether you’ve got this, or not, then yeah, if you need some Tony Robbins bulls*** to get you into the octagon, then yeah, I think that you are definitely at a deficit in comparison to someone that doesn’t require that.”
The 31-year-old Canadian fighter acknowledged his comments weren’t well received but focused instead on his immediate task, which is Nascimento.
“When I woke up one morning, I had all of these notifications, I checked and I was like, ‘Oh, s***,’” Boser said. “I did read a few comments and I got the gist of what people were mad about. Some of it, for sure, was taken out of context from what I saw, and most of it was not thrilled with what I said. But, hey man, that’s what I said and I don’t take it back in the context of the way I meant it.
“I didn’t stay up to date on everything but a lot of it was, ‘This is why men’s health is bad,’ a lot of toxic masculinity stuff, things to that effect. Some people were saying that more successful fighters, I guess [Georges St-Pierre] had a mental coach, I saw that comment. It worked for him, good for him. I mean, what am I going to say about GSP? I said what I said, there’s exceptions to everything. Everybody’s got their own stuff going on, but that’s the way I view it. You can think what you want to think, but I’m also going to think what I’m going to think.”
After a 15-month absence from the octagon, Boser looks to finish Nascimento. He has “no faith” in MMA judges, most notably because of his split decision loss to Ilir Latifi, a fight that took place three weeks before the Saint Preux matchup.
While he is keeping his mind on the fight, Boser wants to make his stance on his comments crystal clear.
“I was talking about, and asked about, fighters having mental coaches,” Boser explained. “I’ve gotten messages from these guys before, guys coming into your Instagram DM’s telling you, ‘Hey, I’m a mental coach. I work with so and so, and so and so. I see you have the skills, but I guarantee if you work with me, you’re going to be fighting for a UFC belt.’
“Shut the f*** up, man. Where the f*** do you get off? You’re not helping me train, you’re not out here helping me work, or overseeing any of that. You don’t know the first thing about me. You’ve seen a few of my fights and you’re confident that with your help, who I’m just going to talk to via message, that I’m going to propel myself to the top of the sport? That’s an absurd statement.
“Look, if some people can talk to those guys and placebo themselves into a greater career, credit to them. I’m not mad about it. Do your thing, but I’m going to do my thing. As a fighter, you have to be built a certain way. I believe that if you need a sport-specific mental coach in order to make you believe in yourself enough to step in a cage to fight someone who is in the top echelon of guys in the world, who are trying to kill you within in a certain ruleset, that you are behind that guy if he doesn’t require that.
“Maybe I’m lucky and my brain works through these things on its own. I have nothing against the fighters that use a mental coach, but I believe if you can be in control of yourself mentally in this regard more so than your opponent, you’re going to have an edge and you’re going to be stronger than them in that aspect, making them, by proxy, weaker than you in that regard.”