There are no shortcuts to winning three simultaneous MMA titles. It takes tremendous talent, hard work, dedication, commitment, and support from my family.
And while I’ve spent countless hours training and teaching and coaching, preparing myself for every bout and every possible scenario inside the cage, once I arrive on fight night, I know the guys in my corner have got my back.
Picking cornermen is of extreme importance in the fight game. Of course, once the cage door closes, it’s just me in there, but having an experienced corner has been a major asset during my title run. Those guys have been huge for me.
My head coach over at Navy St. MMA (more on that in the future) is Joe “Daddy” Stevenson. Many of you know Joe Daddy from his days in the UFC, when he won the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Joe fought inside the Octagon 16 times, beat #NateDiaz once, and even challenged #BJPenn for the lightweight title in 2008, so he knows what it’s like to get ready for a fight. Joe knows the right things to say when you’re back stage, and he knows when to leave me alone, and when to say something.
UFC flyweight #TimElliott has also been in my corner during my title run; I also cornered Tim in his last fight against Demetrious Johnson at the TUF 24 Finale. Training with Tim has been really beneficial, and I was even able to implement some of the things we worked on together in my last fight.
During training, Tim and I sparred a lot, and he did a lot of distracting and a lot of game planning to not let my opponent know where I’m coming from. Tim is a master at being able to side track you, so he keeps his right hand up, and that makes a lot of guys take their eyes away from the target. It throws their eyes off, and if you can stutter someone for that split second and take advantage of it, that’s what it’s mainly for.
#ConorMcGregor does the same thing; that’s why he jumps back and forth, that’s why Frankie Edgar changes level a lot, and Gray Maynard is always up and down, up and down, they’re always trying to call the stutter, and that’s what I do with my right hand.
#CubSwanson, who appears with me on episodes of Kingdom, was also in my corner for my most recent fight. Cub is seriously battle tested and trains with the guys at Jackson-Wink MMA, so between Cub, Joe Daddy, and Tim, my cornermen have basically seen every possible MMA scenario.
But the depth of my corner doesn’t stop there ...
MMA fans will likely recognize Joe, Tim, and Cub, but it takes a true boxing aficionado to know my fourth cornerman, Zack Padilla.
Zack is a former WBO light welterweight champion from the early nineties, who retired in 1994 during a 15-fight win streak. He also beat Roger #Mayweather in 1993, and, his bout against Ray Oliveira still owns the record for most punches ever thrown in a fight with 3,020.
You can’t fake this kind of experience, and having these guys in my corner has its advantages. They definitely got me ready for the fight because they knew the gameplan, and how to make the adjustments to make during the fight.
There are other advantages to having such a deep corner. Some of my opponents can occasionally get distracted before fights because Joe, Tim, Cub, and Zack are legends in the eyes of many newer guys -- it’s kind of eye opening. It can play head games on opponents before the fight even starts.
So pick your cornermen wisely.
They should motivate you, and bring the best out of you, and I think that’s what happened with me against Derek Mandell.
Read More of my Blogs:
- Incorporating Bang Muay Thai and T.J. Dillashaw’s Angles into My Championship Performance
- Christmas Came Early For the Three Division MMA Champ
- Confessions From an MMA Super Camp: Training With the Best En Route to Three Titles
- Weight Classes Are Just a Number: Conor McGregor Proved They Don’t Matter, and So Will I