MMA interviews and pre-fight promotional content is full of clichés and self-fulfilling prophecies. Fighters promise this will be the best they have ever been, that they feel better than they have in years, and that their training camp was the best they have ever had. Some have lived up to their promise, some have not. So, what gives?

If a fighter proclaims to be the best version of themselves, why doesn’t it work for everyone? Is it the effort put forth? Was the other fighter that much better? Let’s look at a few opinions of people in the sport.

Unless you are already the best, being the best you have ever been requires adjustments.

Riley Ross, strength and conditioning coach to UFC’s Jake and Joe Ellenberger, warns against believing in the fighter who claims to be “revolutionized.” Ross says a loss does not require a complete 180 in your fight camp.

“The fighters who claim to be revolutionized, the fighters who switch camps…they don’t always win,” Ross pointed out. He suggests having a fighter focus on their strengths and adding something new to each fight, training advice that has proven successful for many fighters, including Cub Swanson, Ronda Rousey and Demetrious Johnson. In every fight, they bring a new threat.

TUF alum Tyler Minton takes a different stance on changing camps.

“Can you go to a camp and do something totally different and feel that it’s made you better than ever? Yeah, but for the average fighter who’s training with the same people as they did the fight before, they’re probably not any better,” Minton said. “[They’re] just trying to convince themselves that they are getting better as they go.”

UFC veteran Ryan Jensen, who has been in the sport for nearly 20 years as a coach and a competitor, thinks it all depends on a fighter’s work ethic.

“It truly depends on how much time and effort they put in,” Jensen explained. “If they had one of the best training camps and worked their ass off, they are usually ready…but nothing beats hard work.”

Therefore, a fighter can have faith in themselves, but faith and belief isn’t a sufficient substitute for hard work.

So does this happen? Is a fighter’s proclamation to being the best just pseudo-confidence?

Josh Neer, who has had three different stints in the UFC, admits he is guilty of saying he was “the best” when he wasn’t.

“I’ve said it before and didn’t mean it,” Neer confessed. “I’ve also said it and it was the best I’ve ever been.”

Whether a fighter truly believes he or she is the best depends on many factors. If a fighter goes on record to say they are the best, it can be genuine as well as contrived. The easy answer is: it depends on the fighter.

About The Author

Stacey Lynn
Staff Writer

Stacey Lynn was introduced to MMA in 2007. She stumbled upon training MMA after falling in love with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Stacey graduated with her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in October of 2012 and balances her work as an MMA writer with being a full time psychologist.