False: Confidence The fighter’s addiction to certainty
There are things in fighting that are, and seemingly always have been taboo. There are also lie’s that almost all coaches tell their fighters and that fighters then repeat to themselves. Fighters tell themselves that they are going to win their next bout and of that, they are one hundred percent sure. When in fact they can’t possibly know and at best there is only a fifty percent chance.
They deny the fact that they feel fear and doubt in anticipation even though we all do. Coaches tell you your opponent isn’t on the same skill level as you, and that’ll this will be an easy fight. But after you lose, they say you faced a tough experienced opponent. All of this is to deny the possibility of likely scenarios for the sake of confidence. They say in Alcoholics Anonymous that it is always the smart ones who don’t get sober. I’m starting to think that in fighting it’s the smart ones who struggle with confidence.
Three days ago, I had the opportunity to fight on Thai national television. It was the biggest fight of my career so far. The people around me told me about how sure they were that I would win. As we got closer to the fight and found out who my opponent was… According to my trainers, I was better skilled / trained. That this was a mismatch and would be an easy fight, but I knew better than that.
I don’t understand why we do this in fighting. More so I don’t understand how fighters fall for it. How can they be so delusional? All these things couldn’t be further from the truth. Except for the fact that it was a mismatch, however not in my favor. In fact they lied about my record. They said I had almost twice as many fights as I actually had to get me an opponent.
I knew I was in for a tough fight from the beginning. With only have been fighting in the local stadiums in Chiang Mai up to that point. These fights would be technically considered professional, although it’s well known that the skill level in Chiang Mai varies drastically. This is especially true at the higher weight classes. I had gone 6-0 in these stadiums with 5 knockouts; it was time for a step up.
The fight was for Max Muay Thai in Pattaya. Which is a westernized format of three three-minute rounds as opposed to five. They do full Thai rules at Max. But have referees known to stop the clinch very early like most western shows. My opponent was a Swedish guy from Sitmonchai gym in Bangkok. Which is a very well-known gym in Thailand for their low kick specialists.
In the first round, I was dropped due to low kicks, in the second I was finished by them. In terms of styles, he was the perfect opponent to beat me. Even if there wasn’t such a huge gap inexperience. I’ve always struggled with checking kicks to my open side. Due to how much weight I put on the back leg to get a quicker teep and switch kick. I usually don’t feel comfortable in midrange with a solid boxer.
After the fight, my cornerman and trainers’ attitude toward my opponent completely flip-flopped. He went from being a shitty K-1 style fighter (being called that is a kind of insult from Muay Thai purists), to a very experienced fighter. Moreover, he was lucky to have landed the big low kicks early. According to them I was probably outscoring him with my body kicks and knees.
They said I probably would’ve beaten him if we had fought under true Thai scoring. Obviously, I didn’t believe that crap and neither did they, but false confidence is better than none in the fight game and charade must continue even after a loss. The funny part is even if I had won, they would have still flip-flopped afterward to make the win seem as big as possible. Then they probably would have told me how I had beaten someone with twice the experience and then laughed about telling the promoters that I had over 20 fights.
To me, it’s false confidence they try to instill in you as coaches and training partners. If I needed to feel certain of victory to step in the ring, then I would be a coward.
The reality is we don’t know what’s going to happen when we climb over the ropes. You can game plan as much as you want but fighters change habits and evolve, and the guy you planned for may not be the guy in the ring. You’re always only one shot away from being knocked out when fighting. Maybe these stories everybody tells themselves really do help them be confident when fight night comes.
If that’s where you get your confidence from then good for you. You got to get it from somewhere in order to fight at your best. Dont get addicted to certainty. It’s the uncertainty that pushes me in my training. It’s not knowing who might be stepping into that ring that force me to make sure it’s the best version of myself that gets in there with him. If I’ve done everything I possibly can to prepare for a fight, then that’s all the confidence I need.