It’s been a rough ride in the UFC for Mac Danzig since winning the sixth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Heading into his UFC 124 Knockout of the Night win over Joe Stevenson, Danzig had lost four out of five fights and was on the verge of seeing his time on the biggest stage in mixed martial arts come to close.
Battling burnout and having difficulty focusing, Danzig got back to being a student again, did some good old fashioned soul searching, and was able to turn in an award winning display when his back was against the wall.
“You’ve got to look inside yourself every now and then and say, ‘What am I? What defines me? What am I doing?’ And the truth is, I’m a fighter. Whether I like it or not, that’s what I do. This is my job and I’ve got to take it seriously. And if I do I’m going to be successful. That’s my deal now,” Danzig recently told MMAWeekly Radio.
The 30-year-old father of one has rekindled his desire to learn, retooled his skill set, and refocused his energy on improvement. Judging from his UFC 124 performance, the efforts are paying off.
“There’s definitely work ahead to be done. I need to improve. I need to continue to improve and become a better fighter, and, I’ve already started, but keep learning. When you stop learning, when you stop being a student of the game and you stop learning your craft, that’s when things fall apart,” said Danzig.
“That’s something that I’ve never really talked about before. That sort of happened to me. It wasn’t due to arrogance or anything like that. It wasn’t because I thought, oh man, I’m so good that I don’t need to learn anything more. I always know what’s up and I know where I stand skill-wise and technique-wise, but I think just stress and pressure and complacency kind of took over.
“I always train hard. I was always in great shape for every fight, and I always took it seriously, but I wasn’t really learning my craft and I wasn’t really putting in the time and effort into it,” he added. “Every time I would go to the gym, I’d be like I don’t feel like drilling. I just want to spar. That’s the only thing that will hold my attention right now. I’m burned out. I just want to spar.
“Sparring is good. Sparring is 100-percent necessary, but I was just so burnt and everything that I didn’t really want to practice and drill. Now I’m back to being a student the way that I’m supposed to be, back to learning, back to drilling and then applying it when I spar.”
Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90-percent mental and the other half is physical.” Berra clearly was no mathematician, but what he said is true and applies to all sports, including fighting.
Danzig has always had the physical attributes to be an elite mixed martial artist, and now that he’s mentally adjusted, he’s optimistic heading into 2011.
“This win, instead of giving me a huge break and wanting to take all this time off, it’s actually motivated me to get in there again,” said Danzig. “I’m excited. I’m riding the wave of this win, and I’m going to keep going and put a string of them together and re-establish myself. That’s the goal.”