Today, I can say that MMA indeed does teach life lessons, it is the hardest sport in the world. You need to overcome physical and mental adversity inside and outside of the cage. I learned this first-hand over and over again.
In 2016, I was ready to make my pro debut and face the big leagues. After almost 2 decades of physical and mental preparation, I was ready and confident. Then, 7 days before my pro- debut, I got into an accident that left me with a kidney and liver, that were basically torn in half, a punctured lung, some broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and 2 slipped disks in the neck. I was out for 9 months before I could even step a foot in a gym again.
Giving up was not an option so I worked my way back up slowly, won some amateur titles and attempted a second try at being a professional fighter, only to come up short in 2019. I went back to the drawing board, trained hard and accepted another fight later that same year. One minute into the fight I felt my rib break. But my path prepared me, so this was not going to affect me. I have learned how to deal with setbacks and how to adjust. These decisions are not conscious but rather a reflection of the attitudes and discipline that my parents distilled in me. I dropped my opponent later that same round and came out victorious in the end.
I would not say that I enjoy setbacks and adversity in the moment. But I think these are the kind of experiences that mold us into the people we are. Learning how to overcome adversity, apply discipline and work hard to then be able to apply this to life. I like to look back at hardships that I overcame and know my father would be proud.