The UFC 263 results are in and they deliver a powerful message for anyone looking to climb to the summit of any competitive pursuit. The outcomes highlighted the unique mindset required by a challenger when attempting to forcefully remove a king from his throne.
There were two belts on the line at UFC 263. Fight fans saw one belt change hands and the other remain safely around the waist of the incumbent. The reason for the differing outcomes can be traced to a single factor, the mindset of the challenger.
Brandon Moreno is Mexico’s first true UFC champion. He entered his bout versus Deiveson Figueiredo as a betting underdog, but managed to capture the gold and left as the undisputed champion. The men first fought six months ago in a classic contest that ended in a majority draw thus allowing Figueiredo to retain his title by the narrowest of possible margins. Moreno wasted little time getting back into the gym, and spent six longs dedicated months in preparation for his next shot at glory. Moreno improved all aspects of his game. He was hungry, determined, and ruthless in his pursuit of greatness. The drawn contest had shown his game was slightly lacking, so he lifted it accordingly.
Moreno is a family man who fights to provide for his wife and three daughters. He is quietly spoken, humble, fluent in English, and works as an MMA commentator in Mexico when not training. Those that met him during the lead up to the UFC 263 victory were impressed by the calm confidence that he brought to Arizona. There was the aura of a champion about him before the bout. Moreno had done the work, studied his opponent, and was ready for the job. Several very large betting wagers were placed on his victory, possibly as a result of the burning confidence that UFC insiders such as Daniel Cormier had witnessed.
The Losing Challenger Mindset
Marvin Vettori entered his welterweight championship bout versus Israel Adesanya with a radically different mindset. Like the Moreno fight, this was also a rematch. Adesanya had won the first fight via a close split decision, but Vettori left the arena convinced himself that he had actually won that fight. His confidence when he entered rematch was therefore based on a false premise. Any close observation of the tapes would reveal that Vettori had in fact lost meaning his subsequent bravado was a denial of reality.
As the judges rendered their decision at UFC 263 Vettori was again confident he had won the bout. He raised his hand prematurely and expected to be declared the new champion while reigning champ Adesanya mocked him from across the ring. The judges’ verdict was an Adesanya shutout across all five rounds. Vettori barely landed a decent punch during the 5 round fight. He will need a serious change of mindset if he is ever to reach the summit.
To claim the throne, the challenger must work harder than the champ. He needs to take the belt away, as judges will always err on the side of the incumbent in close contests. The challenger must admit he is starting from behind, and acknowledge that delivering a brave and courageous performance will not be enough. He will need to knock the champion from his pedestal. The challenger needs to wake every morning with a single goal in mind – taking the belt from a man who has proven himself superior. The challenger needs to be humble and respectful until the prize is his, only then he can strut and enjoy the spoils of victory.
Brandon Moreno arrived a UFC 263 as a man on a mission. He dominated his larger and more lauded opponent. He won on the feet, then took Figueiredo to the mat and choked him out. He gave the champ no chance. He snatched the prize away in the most comprehensive manner possible. He will fly back to Mexico a wealthy and satisfied man. His hard work has been handsomely rewarded.
UFC 263 was also notable for another remarkable chapter in the Nate Diaz story. Diaz was also a heavy betting underdog in his bout versus Leon Edwards and the first twenty-four minutes of the fight followed that script. But then, with a minute to go, Diaz caught Edwards with the cleanest of left hands to the jaw. Edwards staggered and wobbled, his senses deserted him, but Diaz fell one punch short of completing the extraordinary comeback win. Diaz left the octagon covered in blood with his head held high and will secure another big money fight if so inclined. He will not be joining the Florida Home for Washed-Up Fighters anytime soon.
If you are a challenger, study the performance of Brandon Moreno. He did the work, elevated his game, and claimed the prize against the odds. We can all learn a lesson from the mindset that took him to the top of the MMA game.
Jackson Byrne – MMA Correspondent