Stepping inside the Octagon to fight another man or woman is a tough enough task, but when you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, a positive outcome is almost impossible to come by.
Danny Roberts is a man who’s been battling personal demons and taking on world class fighters in the UFC. Last year at #UFC204, Roberts’ world came crashing down when he was brutally knocked out by #MikePerry in a fight where he was just twenty seconds away from hearing the scorecards.
The defeat was incredibly tough for him to take, but sometimes silver linings can be taken from catastrophes. This was the case for Roberts, who spoke candidly to Champions.co earlier this week about his life since that night in Manchester, England.
“I’ve had a lot of problems outside, as far as my personal life,” Roberts said. “There were things that I needed to address and things that I needed to sort out. I realized my focus wasn’t in the right place before my last fight, yet I continued to ignore it. I suppressed all my thoughts and emotions and I needed an outlet rather than trying to bury them. After I lost, the personal problems just continued and I finally realized that I wasn’t 100-percent and I kinda fell off. Some people that were close to me, my family, my close friends—they saw it and they saw a big change in me.”
Behind The Curtain
Roberts further acknowledged the demons he’d been facing and how he’d tried not to face up to them.
“I’m not too sure people understand the sacrifices I’ve made—I’ve lived in four different cities and I now live across the world, away from my family and friends,” Robert said. “I’ve had to leave these people behind and these are all other pressures people didn’t see me go through. People just looked at me, and I said, ‘Wow, this guy is fighting in the UFC—he’s made it, he’s smashed it,’ they just assumed I was living this happy life, but really there were things just eating me up and dragging me down. There is so much negativity and stuff to drag you down that people don’t see. I needed to address my problems, but I was just the type of guy who was stern and I tried to ignore them.”
The Lowest Low
The Brit pointed towards his defeat to Perry as the tipping point and the time he realized he needed to get some help.
“In my last fight, I think it showed all the emotions I was feeling,” Roberts said. “It all pieces together. I lose the fight and get knocked out. I then sat in the pocket of despair and feeling disappointed, but then I realized I really needed to face up to my problems and sort my life out. I know things could be a lot different for me right now and these are things that I’ve only spoken about to the people closest to me—my family, my friends, my agent. It’s been something deep, something personal, and I just suppressed it and it ate away me.”
The Loneliest Place In The World
Having come out the other side, Roberts is now able to reflect on the difficult times he was going through. He gave an honest account of what it was like battling his demons while fighting at the highest level.
“You can’t go in there with baggage,” Roberts said. “Let me tell you, when you walk through that cage door, it’s the loneliest place in the world and there’s no one there holding your hand. You feel vulnerable like nothing else, and if you're burdened with anything, it’s no good. It’s not a physical thing, it’s mental. The UFC makes you feel so much more alone. I was battling demons inside there, not just another man.
You need to happy, be content with your life and have a clear mind. The best version of you will only show when everything is in balance. That night, against Mike Perry, I walked into the cage so angry and with so much hate and it played back in the way I fought. I could’ve easily been smart and played out the clock, but all I could think about was trying to cause pain and trying to hurt the guy. It opened me to mistakes, I made them and I paid for it in a horrible way. That will never happen again.”
Roberts recalled what happened after the fight and how the injuries he suffered caused him to take a step back and assess his life.
“I realize it’s part me, part of my development and part of who I am,” Roberts said. “I took note, addressed the situation and decided to move forward. I’ve had a lot of time off since my last loss. I had to have four months to let my eye heal—at one time I’d lost 33-percent of the vision in it. I had to listen to the doctor and stay still and it gave me a lot of time to get that realization and understand what I had to do to move forward.”
Having understood the parts of his life he needed to address, Roberts set about doing it. Having had the weight of the world on his shoulders, Roberts now feels he’s free of his demons and ready to show the world his best.
“I was considering coming back for the Stockholm card, but I discussed it with my coaches and my family and it would have meant I jumped straight back into camp after letting my eye heal—it just wouldn’t have been right,” Roberts said. “Instead, I flew back home, saw my little boy and got all that good vibe and energy from him—everything I do now is for him and for myself and our future. Now I’m back in Florida training and it feels right. I will have been training for like four months before I fight and I know I’ll be in the best shape physically of my life.
More importantly though, I’ve addressed the demons and everything that was weighing me down. I just cannot wait to perform now. Everything negative is gone. I’ve got amazing people around me. All this energy is making me feel like now I’m in that perfect place. It’s inside of me to entertain people, but I’m also turning into a deadly fighter. All these people I’m surrounded with at Combat Club, they are making me better every day. I’m blessed to have these people in my life.”
Y'all Must Have Forgot
Having spent the best part of five years unbeaten, Roberts acquired plenty of people in his life who were only there to benefit off his success. Following his defeat last October, many of those people disappeared from the scene and didn’t help him when he needed it most. As you can imagine, this didn’t go unnoticed by the man.
“I feel like people forgot who I am and what I’m about,” Roberts said. “I want people to walk away from the arena on July 16 thinking ‘We f*cked up—we counted this guy out.’ I remember looking at my phone after all my wins, I had hundreds and hundreds of calls and messages—everyone loves a winner. For me, losing that fight, it showed me the love of the people that were close to me. But at the same time, it also showed me who the fake people were—the ones that were there when I won but abandoned me when I lost. The people that picked me up are the ones that truly love me. When I win in Glasgow, people will walk away talking about me. I will win, I will be a champion and I plan on making major statements along the way.”
Danny Roberts returns to the UFC Octagon on July 16 when he faces Bobby Nash at #UFCGlasgow.