Lessons Learned

Reminiscing over his latest loss at TKO 34, MMATraining.com’s own Jeff Harrison talks about what he has learned along the way.

Featured article by Jeff Harrison of MMATraining.com. For more on Jeff, please visit his bio where you can read about his MMA career and view videos of his recent training.

Just about every fighter, whether an elite professional, or a rookie amateur, will experience defeat at one point in their career. I feel Matt Hughes said it best,” If you’re undefeated, you’re not fighting the right opponents.” In a sport like MMA, where the performance inside the ring or cage is merely a reflection of the training done, an intelligent fighter and his team will realize that a loss is usually no one’s fault but his own.

On June 7th, I suffered my first loss as a professional, and even though I took a thorough beating from this champion wrestler, I do not feel in any way, that I had no chance… 100 punches to my face later, there have been some valuable lessons learned. I am a fairly new player in the MMA game, so maybe these lessons can prevent aspiring MMA fighters from making the same mistakes I did. My lessons learned? The list could be endless, but I will narrow it down to three. I write these with an opened mind, eyes seeing clearly with 20/20 hindsight vision and the bitter taste of defeat still fresh in my mouth.

Lesson 1: Listen to your corner

Always follow your trainer’s advice. They are your trainers for a reason; they know more than you! I am a high level striker, so why did I close the distance by throwing a flying knee at a National Champion Wrestler? It was a tactical error that cost me the fight. My coaches told me to jab and cross. They told me to keep distance; to kick the leg when the opportunity arose; to consider setting up a head kick or a finishing combination later in the fight. I was supposed to fight conservatively, but instead threw out something for the crowd within the first minute that got me taken down, and ultimately cost me the fight.

Lesson 2: Train for your opponent’s strengths. Get out of your comfort zone!

I am looking back and studying my training methods to see what I could have done differently. I know I did not wrestle enough. I know I did not prepare enough for the ground assault that I knew was coming. I performed a lot of BJJ, but when you add in a barrage of strikes and a firm wrestler’s base you can throw many of those techniques out the window unless you are an impeccable master of the art. Sometimes focusing on our strengths rather than building on our weakness is a much more digestible recipe for our egos. Why did I spend a large portion of my training time working on a striking game that was already leagues above my opponents’? I knew what I would have to deal with, but chose not to accept that it could happen to me.

Lesson 3: Learn from your mistakes and evolve.

I will cling to the ideology that yes I COULD have defeated him, and that will be the reason I’ll improve on my fighting and training tactics. If I learn from this loss, the next time I face an elite level wrestler, I will achieve better results. In fact, I will be so bold as to say I WILL do better and will look forward to the time when I get to lock horns with such a beast again. I maintain the theory that my defeat was no one’s fault by my own. If a fighter ever makes a bogus claim like, “there is no way I could have won,” then his evolution will cease. His progress will become stagnant. This attitude of blindly accepting defeat will never lead to improvement.

We must QUESTION why the loss happened.

We must figure out the ANSWER to that question.

We must UNDERSTAND the answer so we can prevent it from happening again.

That is the process of improvement.

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