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Dealing with Defeat and Regret

© Per Häljestam, USA TODAY Sports
📸: © Per Häljestam, USA TODAY Sports

At the end of every professional contest, there are only two possible states of being: WINNING and MISERY.

After being the hammer in his last two fights in Hamburg and Stockholm, this time Peter Sobotta came up short in his fight in London this weekend.

When you are as involved in the fight business as I am and you have watched thousands of fights over the years, either in person at the arena or live on television, you can easily see the reasons for defeat most of the time. A lack of time to prepare, an injury to the fighter, a large difference in experience or a bad style matchup can explain a defeat.

However, when you prepare as meticulously and disciplined as Peter did, you come in perfect shape, you have perfected the process of cutting and regaining the weight and you have a great team around you and you still end up on the losing end, defeat is difficult to swallow and it’s hard to really point a finger at a single reason for the loss.

Skill-wise, I have zero doubt Peter can beat Leon Edwards. He is better on the ground, stronger, throws harder and is more experienced. On Saturday however, he struggled with an opponent who was inactive for most of the fight and only waited for his opportunities to capitalize on his opponent’s mistakes. Unfortunately, Peter made too many of them that night.

“I should have gone forward more”, “I should have pressed for the takedown earlier” and “I should not have been so hesitant in many situations” were some of the regrets Peter had after the fight. It might sound corny, but we all make mistakes. We are a product of our mistakes. What matters though is the lesson to be learned from them. Learn and move on. Make progress. Get better. Don’t be filled with regret but with knowledge.

This defeat will not brand Peter as pathetic or as a permanent loser. He’s a man that has battled through more adversity both inside and outside the cage for all his life and who has overcome that adversity way more often than not. Somebody who has looked fear into the eye and said: “Let’s go!”.

Somebody who has fought grown men as a teenager. Somebody who has had performances that won “Fight of the Year” accolades. One of the elite few Europeans who fought their way back into the Champions League of MMA after being initially deemed not good enough and cast away. Somebody who has proven more than once that he can fight, win and finish at the highest level.

Peter rolled the dice on Saturday. At 31 years of age, it is his aspiration to challenge himself against the best. He fought and he lost. It means that he has something to overcome, a psychological barrier or a lack of mental preparation before he can show the world his best work. In fact, choking at the gates of the Top 15 means that he is at least midway in climbing the steps that lead to ultimate success.

Just being ready isn’t enough to crack the upper echelon of this division. You have to be prepared for significant change. Preparation demands mental and physical conditioning and conscious planning. An athlete who is just ready and not totally prepared always risks a loss. Peter will take a week off to regroup and then we will get back together and plan his future.

Even though he couldn’t win this fight that would have guaranteed him an even more exciting future at this time, it is absolutely remarkable how he put a whole nation on his back. The kind of support and encouragement Peter has received before and also after the fight is absolutely amazing. Win or lose, he is an idol and role model to people of all ages and origins. A true champion of life!

The great Pat Riley once said: “You have no choice about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again.” I am sure that soon the disappointment over this missed opportunity will turn into fuel to further bolster his many strengths, improve his weaker points and hunger to come back sharper, quicker and more lethal than ever!

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