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‘I thought it was my dirty secret’: The truth about post-fight depression


The best way Dustin Poirier put it perceived to awe many community. Perhaps it’s on account of who he’s, which is to mention some of the a hit and apparently levelheaded opponents nonetheless lively within the game, the type of man who turns out to at all times have it in combination. Or perhaps it was once on account of how he put it in an interview with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour” previous this future.

Within the aftermath of his knockout loss to Justin Gaethje endmost pace, Poirier stated, he slipped right into a “darkness” that fed on his ideas, inflicting authentic worry for his personal well-being.

“The world doesn’t know, but the people close to me know,” Poirier stated. “I went through some real mental struggles.”

This echoed what we heard from former UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski only a few months in the past. Attempting to give an explanation for why he authorized a short-notice battle up a weight magnificence towards an opponent who’d already overwhelmed him as soon as, Volkanovski explained that he’d been struggling mentally and hoped booking a fight would help.

“For some reason, when I wasn’t fighting or in camp or keeping busy, I was just doing my head in,” Volkanovski stated on the occasion.

Stick round this game lengthy plenty and also you’ll understand this can be a routine theme. The ones sessions next every battle, whether or not they win or lose, will also be hardened on opponents. There are countless excellent causes for this, similar to there are so many explanation why lively opponents aren’t desperate to admit to suffering with it. (Simply glance up one of the most reactions from friends to Volkanovski’s admission, as an example.)

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JULY 29:  Dustin Poirier sets to punch against  Justin Gaethje during their Lightweight fight at UFC 291 at the Delta Center July 29, 2023 at the  in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JULY 29:  Dustin Poirier sets to punch against  Justin Gaethje during their Lightweight fight at UFC 291 at the Delta Center July 29, 2023 at the  in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

UFC veteran Dustin Poirier just lately unfolded about his psychological condition struggles next his loss to Justin Gaethje endmost July. (Photograph by means of Chris Gardner/Getty Pictures)

I used to be reminded of this past asking round amongst opponents this future. A lot of the ones nonetheless making their approach within the game didn’t need to talk about the bouts of post-fight despair. They fearful enthusiasts or fellow opponents may importance it towards them going forward. After I requested Chael Sonnen, half-expecting to get some tricky man resolution consistent with his nation personality.

“OMG, post-fight depression is very real,” Sonnen wrote again. “I experienced it every time, and I faked my way through it because I thought it was my dirty secret.”

What made him understand he wasn’t abandoned, Sonnen stated, was once a dialogue with a former opponent named Brian Stann, who defined it in some way that made sense. It additionally helped him understand he wasn’t abandoned in suffering with it.

Stann could also be some of the all-around impressive folks to ever battle within the UFC. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the place he performed linebacker at the Midshipmen soccer crew, Stann won the Silver Megastar for valor in struggle past serving in Iraq.

Stann entered the UFC simply next exiting the Marine Corps, and went directly to have a forged profession within the UFC that integrated memorable bouts with Sonnen, Chris Leben, Michael Bisping and Wanderlei Silva. Next retiring from combating he right away become one of the vital lead colour commentators on UFC announces. He went directly to earn an MBA from Northwestern, and now serves as CEO of Hunt Army Communities, the population’s biggest proprietor of army housing.

Stann is every other a type of community who turns out to have all of it in combination. Perhaps that’s why listening to it from him made it more uncomplicated for Sonnen to just accept that post-fight despair may get to someone. Once I reached out to invite what Stann had stated to Sonnen to give an explanation for the phenomenon, he had deny hassle hanging it into phrases.

“When you win, you have this monumental feeling that simply can’t be replicated anywhere else in your life,” Stann stated. “You had this huge mountain to climb, you do it, it finally happens. And when it’s over, you kind of fall into this lull where it’s this dead zone as a fighter. It’s like that until the phone rings and you get your next fight, your next mountain to climb. That can be really tough, especially when a lot of fighters, their life is really different when they’re in training camp.”

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08:  Chael Sonnen (white shorts) prepares to slam Brian Stann to the mat during the UFC 136 event at Toyota Center on October 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08:  Chael Sonnen (white shorts) prepares to slam Brian Stann to the mat during the UFC 136 event at Toyota Center on October 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Chael Sonnen prepares to slam Brian Stann to the mat all the way through UFC 136 at Toyota Heart on October 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas. Sonnen gained by means of second-round submission. (Photograph by means of Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC by means of Getty Pictures)

Coaching for a UFC battle is an intense, all-consuming procedure, Stann defined. There’s a day at the calendar and every other human being someplace in the market on the planet who’s considering most effective about beating you up. And also you, in a similar way, are considering most effective about him.

For weeks you reside that approach. A “razor focus,” as Stann put it. Your coaching routine and vitamin are essentially the most noteceable issues to your presen. The entire alternative stuff you may need to do — whip your children out for ice cream, drink a chilly beer, consume a plenty meal and go to sleep at the sofa — turns into belongings you’ll do then, next the battle. On your thoughts, that nice-looking presen at the alternative aspect of the battle appears like a paradise in ready. However whilst you in reality get there, Stann defined, principally what you’re feeling is a unexpected absence.

“You miss it,” stated Stann. “Suddenly there’s a lot of white space in your day, and you don’t really know what to do with it.”

And that’s if you happen to win. That’s the best-case state of affairs. In case you lose, you’ve got all that stuff to sit up for plus the melancholy {of professional} failure. It’s like all profession setback, except for this one was once broadcast on reside TV — and it is going to or won’t include a sovereign concussion thrown in for just right measure.

The alternative phase is that, with a win or a loss, everybody you recognize turns out to need to communicate to you about your battle. That may get traumatic even in victory. In defeat it’s borderline insupportable.

“I remember when I lost to Chael, my barber had an opinion on it,” Stann stated. “I had a job at the time, and the people at work would read the articles and tell me what the writers and the journalists had to say about my fight. You can’t find people who ask you, ‘Hey how are your kids doing? Drove past your house, looks like you did some work to the front lawn.’ Nobody wants to talk about that. They only ask you about the fight. And man, you could get really caught up where that becomes your identity. Your identity is no longer your character, your family, who you are, your faith. Your identity is the last performance you had in that Octagon.”

This is a part of why combating will also be like an dependancy for plenty of community, Stann stated. In case you battle and win, you get a top that you’ll be able to’t get any place else to your presen, adopted by means of a lull that most effective encourages you to chase the later top. In case you lose, the autumn is much more precipitous, and also you change into satisfied that most effective the top of a win will convey you again up once more.

It’s this considering that may be truly unhealthy, Stann stated. His recommendation to opponents within the throes of this cycle was once to take into account that combating is a factor they do, however no longer the whole thing of who they’re.

“I think that that’s really essential,” Stann stated. “And it’s really the same thing for military veterans. I’ve seen military veterans go to way darker corners of their mind with regret, with survivor’s guilt. When they took that uniform off, they felt like that’s what made them who they are. They have to get to a place where they realize it’s not, that they can still take all the energy and skills and leadership abilities they gained and apply it to something new.”

Gaining that point of view will also be more uncomplicated stated than carried out. In line with Poirier, starting treatment next his loss to Gaethje helped him put issues in the correct focal point. It’s how he got here to comprehend that combating can be a activity, however may in the end release him unfulfilled as a totalizing identification.

“I think it’s important to like, open up and talk about how you feel,” Poirier stated. “You know, we’re such in the spotlight of being tough guys all the time, but we’re people too. That’s the part of the mindset, like, Dustin the fighter. But what about Dustin? What about me?”

As a result of when the combating is completed, nearest it’s most effective the individual left. And sooner or later, regardless of what number of fights you win or how much cash you create, everybody has to go away the gloves for the endmost occasion.



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