In the case of all sports, aspects of sports psychology can propel one to greatness just as much as it can tear them down. If your mind isn’t as tough and prepared as your body, you are already weaker.
Mental toughness is a psychological edge that helps one perform at a high level consistently.
In the case of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality setting sometimes this becomes a bit of a challenge because it isn’t an optimal routine. You have limited time to focus, to understand and to be prepared for your next opponent. This is why the average MMA training camp leading up to a fight can be anywhere from 2-4 months. They are developing a game plan for a certain fighter, understanding their weaknesses that fighter could exploit, and taking the necessary steps to be more well rounded for that specific fight. These are challenges the fighters on TUF 18 will need to overcome and appreciate in order to be successful in this unique setting. Your mind must be committed and accept that this is your last fight, there is no tomorrow if you lose. You have to expect the best of the best in your opponent and do whatever it takes to secure that win and move forward.
That being said, the second episode proved that anything can happen in the octagon, but doesn’t necessarily reflect what should have happened. It wasn’t too long ago that Chris Weidman educated a lot of us on that fact. If you want to be the best, your mind has to be focused for all 5 minutes of every round. Shayna Baszler has an impressive fight resume dating back to 2003, and the result on TUF 18’s second episode doesn’t do her justice at all. But the beauty about Shayna is that she knows that outcome was a momentary lapse in focus, and she is committed to being in the UFC and standing toe to toe with the women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. And we think she could.
So Ronda took me out of the locker room and into the lobby of the gym. They showed a small part of our conversation, but they didn’t show the parts that were the most important to me. She said, “Shayna, this isn’t the only way to get what you want, it’s just one way. And, honestly, for you, it isn’t even the best way.” She told me that the reason I was her No. 1 pick wasn’t just because she believed I would win, but because I was her biggest threat on the show, and it’s wise to keep me close. I looked straight at her and said, “You will see me across the cage from you.” She replied, “I know I will,” with 100 percent belief, “…..and I will beat the shit out of you.” We laughed. It was huge that as a potential rival for her belt one day, she was completely understanding. In this sport, more than any other sport, the best fighter does not always win. That’s the simple truth. And it’s why so many love this sport.Shayna Baszler
The other unique aspect to this show is that the fans get a behind the scene look at the fighters in their somewhat natural routines and demeanours. However one thing that we must keep in mind, is that we only see what we are being shown. They record endless hours of footage and compile the most compelling story board for viewerships. Sure the fighters actions and words are real, but the context and reasons in which they are done are not fully disclosed or made viewable to us. Therefore no matter what we see on the show, we will never see the full picture or understand completely the emotions that are being invested.
“I had no idea Ronda took it so hard when I lost until I watched the show. But to see Ronda so bothered, and then shouldering the responsibility…in the end, the part that sucks the most was disappointing all of them. They truly believed in me.”Shayna Baszler
Shayna may have lost her fight against Julianna Pena on TUF 18, but what she has done for WMMA should be an indicator that we have not seen or heard the last of her. We will see her again soon enough in beast mode and once again standing tall as the Queen of Spades.
Do you want to read what Shayna Baszler has to say about the second episode of TUF18?
READ: The Queen’s Manifesto – Shayna Baszlers TUF18 blog (Week 2)