|The following opinion was written by David Michaud. All content © Native Sun News.
David Michaud. Photo from Facebook
What is it like to step in the cage?
By David Michaud
Recently, people have been asking me what it's like getting into the cage. This probably isn't the same for everyone, but most times it depends on who I am fighting.
The pressure of fighting does not hit me until I am in the locker room before the fights getting my hands wrapped. When that happens it is like in my mind, I just know that this is it. This is what I've been training for.
After my hands are wrapped and I am warming up in the back all that I can think about is the fight. I visualize everything that I've done, all the work I put in to get to this point. When I see how much work I put in any butterflies I had go away because I know that I did everything I could to get ready for the fight and I have no worries...most of the time.
There have been a few fights where I doubted myself while I was warming up. I didn't know if I did enough, didn't know if I was healthy enough, or didn't know enough about my opponent. These are not thoughts you want running through your head right before y step into a cage with a guy who wants to beat you however he can.
Most recently I felt like this going into my last fight. I was less than 8 months post-op on my ACL surgery and I was not able to train how I wanted. My knee would hurt and swell so I would have to miss a workout or not do the conditioning I needed to (which really showed in my fight). It also affected my weight cut, I was not able to get down as fast as I liked to.
So before the fight I had all these negative thoughts running through my head. I was just thinking, “I didn't practice enough, my knee isn't healthy enough, I don't know enough about my opponent.” Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck.
In the locker room I was telling my jui-jitsu coach to “talk me up,” as in make me feel better about myself. Now I love my coach, but that was definitely not his strong point. So we kept warming up and warming up, more than I normally do. I usually like to take it easy and have a laugh in the back. Not this time. In my mind I felt like I needed to do as much as I could to get ready, which wasn't helping me anyway 30 minutes before the fight.
On the walk out to the cage the nerves were killing me. Everything was telling me I wasn't ready, but as soon as I heard the crowd when I was walking out my mind went to a different place. I felt the emotion from all the people in the crowd, in my mind I thought “how can he possibly beat me when I have a nation (the Oglala Nation) behind me?”
From there my mind went into a different place. As soon as I stepped in the cage and saw him I got angry, how could this guy possibly come here and think he was going to beat me? I could not wait for the ref to start the fight so I could show him how big a mistake he made. The entire time in the cage before the fight all I could think was how much I wanted to finish my opponent, to make him pay for even showing up.
When that bell finally rang all I could think was “finally” because it was, at long last, time to do what I was trained to do. Dominate.
Now it didn't exactly happen that way, he was a really tough guy after all, but I was able to exert my will on him for the most part. I left him only able to open one eye and I controlled most of the fight, picking up the win. So, despite my mind doing everything it could before the fight to stop me, I was able to do exactly what I came to do, fight and win.
(Contact David Michaud at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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