Fight Day

Conor Heun - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On fight day I try to sleep as long as I can.  I keep water and food like raw almonds, berries, and oats within reach of the bed. I rarely get up to go to breakfast or anything, I just continue to rest and eat slowly while in my hotel room, making sure to chew everything thoroughly and drink plenty of water.  I usually get up and get moving at around noon. 

I’ll start with a nice hot shower followed by some yoga poses and breathing exercises designed to bring awareness into my body and get the blood and energy flowing.  After stretching, breathing, I’ll usually meditate for around 20 minutes.  In my meditation I vividly imagine everything leading up to the fight, getting my hands taped, putting on the gloves, walking to the cage, feeling the Vaseline applied to my face, biting down on my mouth guard, hearing my name announced, waiving to the crowd and breathing in the energy of the arena.  I visualize looking across the cage at my opponent and opening my heart to him. I bow out of courtesy and respect and invite their soul into battle, knowing that the universe will provide us both with tremendous opportunity for growth and evolution.

I watch the fight play out in my mind, bringing heightened awareness to my breathing and the way my body feels. I work to calm any tension in my body by focusing my breath into any discomfort I feel and leaning into the sensations I’m feeling while continuing to fight in my mind. I visualize finishing the fight, helping my opponent back to his feet and embracing him, giving him thanks for the opportunity to test myself and honoring his effort.  I imagine the announcer proclaiming my victory and I allow the emotions to rush over me, feeling the full weight of the emotional dump. I’ll often find myself in tears, giving thanks to all those who support me in my journey. I’ll lay in child’s pose for as long as it takes for the feelings to dissipate.

Once my breath and heart rate have returned to normal I usually put on some dance music and start packing my bag for battle. I make sure to include my cup, compression shorts, fight shorts, mouth guard, ankle sleeves, kneepads, and walkout-T as well as my sweats.  I remember to pack a towel so I can shower up at the arena after the fight and put on clean clothes for the press conference and the after parties. 

As I board the van to head to the arena I stay focused, listening to my music on my headphones and breathing in the energy of the universe, focusing on the feeling of winning.  I’m usually fighting pretty early on the card so once I’m in the locker room I’m getting my hands tapped and putting on my gear.  I’ll do my warm ups, with high knees, butt kicks, squats, lunges, big jumps, and some pad work and grappling to get my heart rate to 175. Once I have my heart rate up I just go back to my yoga to get my mind focused and my muscles loose.  After I’m good and warm I’ll often sit in the corner with my head down and visualize snowboarding down my favorite run back home in Colorado.  This allows me to keep the mind body connection but remove myself from the fight environment to a place where I perform with precision while remaining completely relaxed and in the zone. 

            When the commissioner comes to get me for my fight I stand up excited and ready to shine. I take everything in, taking time to enjoy the sensations that wash over me as I enter the arena. I feel so blessed to be able to express my soul in front of the world. I walk to the cage almost as if I’m floating on air. I hug my coaches and close my eyes as the ref applies the Vaseline to my face. I visualize the ointment creating an impenetrable and protective coating across my face making me impervious to damage. I step into the cage and take a lap, breathing my intention into our battleground. I walk forward with an open heart to meet my teacher/opponent. I touch gloves honoring him and work to stay open. I acknowledge the ref’s instructions and dance back to my corner, completely ready for whatever may come.