Psychology of MMA: Toughness Training

Harry Dalian

Favorites don’t always win. Even the strongest, fastest, most agile competitors lose – a lot. Why is this? Sports Psychologist Brian Cain says, “The best fighter never wins, it’s always the guy who fights the best.”

In this day and age of MMA fighting, a true competitor seeks a rigorous mental edge that doesn’t let them down when distractions can take hold. Competitors such as Jorge Gurgel and St. Pierre know that distractions may arise and throw off a whole game and they want to fight as well as they’ve trained.

Cain reminds us that “the mind controls the body.” Cain helps MMA fighters explore and grow their mental toughness by removing any negative thoughts that hold an athlete back from performing at the top of their game. This negativity could be a product from previous, traditional sports conditioning, and requires anything from hypnosis, to energy medicine and meditation.

Cain says removing insecurity from the competitor at the subconscious level eliminates doubt and fear that may have cause a self-sabotaging situation. He also states a point that all of us could use: In order for us to get rid of negative, self-sabotaging thoughts, we need to remove anything from our minds but the now.

MMA fighters are always looking to sharpen their skills and develop mental toughness. This is a fight that never stops – one with the subconscious mind. Brian Cain hopes to see more training associated with this type of approach designed to help competitors maintain their highest performance – mentally. The goal is to fight as good during the fight as one does in training.