While being forced to sit out nearly two years can be difficult on a fighter’s physical well-being, training can help stem any degradation, whereas when it comes to the mental aspect of a fighter’s health, it can be a bit more difficult to deal with. Such was the case for bantamweight Erion Zekthi the last couple years.
Following a win in July, 2017, Zekthi was eager to keep his three-fight winning streak rolling when his 2020 was wiped out thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic. After having some difficulty adjusting to things, Zekthi was able to right himself once he was able to train more readily again.
“I think for the first time in my life I had a mild depression, not because of the Covid so to speak, but I didn’t realize how important competing and training and fighting was in my life,” Zekthi told MMAWeekly.com. “It gave me a lot more purpose. To have it kind of taken away from me was weird. I really didn’t sit well with it.
“Having the gym back open was therapeutic almost. That year not doing much was very difficult on me. I didn’t realize how much I liked training and needed martial arts in my life; I don’t know if it’s the gym, the camaraderie, the social aspect of all of it or what. Once I got back into training it was like a 180-degree difference.”
Being able to deal with difficulties in the fight game comes with becoming a more veteran fighter, which is something Zekthi is heading more towards after having been a prospect for the first few years of his career.
“Truth be told it’s difficult to avoid plateaus in martial arts because you’ll tend to lean on what you prefer or lean where you’re strong,” said Zekthi. “Wrestlers will wrestle, strikers will strike, we always fall back on our pedigrees.
“The thing I’ve learned is a maturity of the game, understanding where I’m strong, understanding where I have holes in my game. More than anything, and what I think is undervalued, is the maturity.”
On June 26 in St. Charles, Missouri, Zekthi (4-1) will look to get momentum rolling once again when he faces Dillon Tolbert (6-5) in the 135-pound main event of Shamrock FC 330.
“I know what I’m going to do,” Zekthi said. “I’m going to be very methodical about it. I can be patient about it and just dissect it. I don’t need to have a certain performance. I don’t need to impress certain people. I just have to go out there, stay cool, calm, and collected, and just like all my other fights I’ll win.”
Having had so much lost time over the last few years of his career, Zekthi is setting definite goals and plans on working towards them above all else.
“I’ve been doing that too much in my life – fight this guy and see what happens – no more,” said Zekthi. “I have a plan to knock out Dillon in spectacular fashion and then I want on Dana White’s Contender Series in August or September. If we can’t make that happen then the LFA for sure.
I’ve got to set plans now. I’m 28 years old now, I had almost two years taken away from me, and I need to get the ball rolling.”