The California Kid Trilogy
Former 2-time UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz discusses his legendary rivalry vs Urijah Faber, circa 2011. Arguably the best MMA fighter in his division at the time, the California Kid rivalled Cruz from the now defunct World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion through the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
The Dominator recalls not dwelling on his defeat in the inaugural fight with Faber at WEC 26 (2007). The San Diego native chose to focus instead on technical improvements that would eventually earn him the victory in their rematch at UFC 132 in 2011. That fight actually marked the debut of the bantamweight division in the UFC, which wasn’t a source of performance anxiety for Cruz. In fact, the Dominick Cruz vs Urijah Faber rematch earned both fighters Fight of the Night bonuses.
“I don’t allow myself to feel pressure. I don’t allow it to affect me, because it’s my choice.”
– Dominick Cruz, Former UFC Bantamweight Champion
The Obsession For Perfection
Dominick Cruz tells the story of what led him to make his mixed martial arts debut in the Rage in the Cage organization, back in 2005 (RITC 67). The former WEC bantamweight champion reveals that a wrestling student of his got him to try a MMA class. After that day, Cruz never looked back.
Head coach of Team Cruz on The Ultimate Fighter 15, Dominick Cruz is adamant about his constant technical progression. As the future UFC Hall-of-Famer indicates, every one of his fights, regardless of the outcome, is an occasion to analyze himself, learn and improve. The Alliance MMA team member backed that statement when he regained the bantamweight championship vs T.J. Dillashaw on UFC Fight Night, in January of 2016. The accomplishment is considered one the greatest comebacks in MMA history.
Emotional Control: A Champion’s Mindset
Last competitor to fight 2-division champion and Olympic Gold Medallist Henry Cejudo before his retirement at UFC 249, Dominick Cruz exposes his stress-coping philosophy in regards to MMA fighting. The Dominator reveals he does not consider the frustration ensuing from a loss a source of extra motivation. The USA Today‘s 2010 Fighter of the Year award recipient confesses he never lets himself feel any added pressure, whether it’d be in regards to defending a title or main eventing a major UFC fight card.
3 ways to avoid performance anxiety
#1 | Sensei says: Focus On The Gain
Listening to UFC legend Dominick Cruz, I got that when approaching a performance, whether it’d be in Sports, Academia or Arts, we should avoid thinking about the risks or what’s to be lost in a negative aftermath. Instead, always focus on the probable positive outcome.
#2 | Sensei says: Stress Is A Choice
Inspired by my exchange with Dominick, I realize that letting external stressors or other types of exterior pressure affect us is ultimately our choice. As corroborated by neuroscientist Dr. Don Vaughn in episode 2 of my podcast, that is the way champions think: making an absolute abstraction of any external factors that could mentally deviate them from an optimal performance.
#3 | Sensei says: Preparation Generates Confidence
Learning from Dominic Cruz’s experience, I second that being on the path towards constant improvement is the only way to achieve peak performance. As a corollary, I would add that to prepare properly and to train relentlessly before performing, no matter the performance’s nature, generates the self-confidence needed to avoid anxiety.