Fight Day : Jeff Rexroad and JJ Ambrose Give An Inside Look Into a Fighter's Mind Before Battle
The sun rises over the clouds on a bright day and as a competitor awakens from his slumber only one thing lingers on their minds - the battle that awaits them.
To many, fight day is considered the culmination of months of training and self-development geared toward preparing to fight the battle ready adversary that stand in front of them. From the time they awake to their arrival at the arena, it is an event marked by reflection, anticipation, excitement, and sometime nervousness before stepping into the cage.
In this exclusive two-part series US Combat Sports reporter Monta Wiley talks with Jeff Rexroad, JJ Ambrose, Mark Holst, and Conor Heun about what goes through their mind during the hours leading up to battle.
I usually try to do the exact same thing every time I have a fight when it comes to weigh-ins and actual fight day. I always start my weight cut at the exact same time, I do the same cutting techniques, and I eat and rehydrate the exact same way eating the exact same food. It’s something that I feel I have perfected through trial and error and now it's become second nature. It’s the reason I can cut 35 lbs. of total weight to fight at 170 lbs. without any negative effects on my body.
As for fight day I still follow a strict schedule. I usually wake up between 8-8:30 a.m. and take a shower. Then I cook a good breakfast usually consisting of a couple whole-wheat pancakes, two scrambled eggs, a glass of two-percent milk and a banana. After that I eat something small every two or three hours and I make sure I’m always drinking some type of fluid such as water, Pedialyte, or G2.
I eat lunch around 1 p.m. and it usually consists of a sandwich and some fruit. As for dinner it depends on what fight I am in the fight order. If I’m early in the card I usually eat my last real meal at about 4 p.m. if I’m late in the card I’ll eat last at about 6 pm. I like to have everything digested and completely out of my system come fight time around 9-11 p.m.
As for what I actually do with my time other than eat -I generally don't do much. I like to get out of the house for a little bit so I’ll go get my truck washed or run a few errands. Some guys stay in the house, or even stay in bed for most of the day but I can't do that. I go stir crazy and if I don't get out of the house I end up feeling tired and sluggish. So I feel better if I get out and have something to pass the time. I don't do anything tiring but just enough to keep the mind busy. When I’m not out running errands I’ll watch a little TV take a nap in between lunch and dinner and basically just chill out.
As for what I feel like come fight day....I generally feel just like any other day. I don't get nervous or worried or anything else. I've had a lot of crazy experiences in my life so fighting in a cage is not really something that gets me scared or worried. I enjoy fighting and, if anything, I would say that I get anxious because I’m ready to get in there and get to work. I enjoy the whole experience of fight day and the actual fight can't come quick enough for me.
When I actually get to the venue I like to get there early. That lets me pick the best spot to chill in back rooms. I talk to some people I know and just chill out till my corner guys get there. While the show is going on we usually have a TV in the back room so I’ll just chill on the couch and watch the fights. It’s not uncommon for me to fall asleep for a few minutes either.
When I wrap my hands depends on when I’m fighting. Nowadays I’m usually always late in the fight card so I’ll have my hands wrapped four-fights prior to my fight. Then I’ll glove up and do some light pad work. I’ll start stretching and getting loose.
Two fights prior to my fight I’ll start a harder warm up routine that consists of pad work, pummeling, stretching, and some light wrestling and grappling. I usually do one-minute intervals with stretching in between until I get "the feeling" of being warmed up. Then I’ll just do some light pad work to keep a sweat going until I’m called to walk out to the cage.
When it's time to go out I’m ready to get in there and punch someone in the face. I don't get all worked up and start screaming I’m just super relaxed and focused. I walk down the aisle, get checked by the ref, get greased up, and then I walk through the cage door.
Once I walk through the door I don't see anything else except the 30' caged area. I can hear everyone...but I don't see them I’m just focused and ready to fight. I don't mean mug my opponents, I think that's disrespectful and shows fear. I listen to the ref's instructions, touch gloves, then back up to my corner. When the ref says "Fight!" then I’m finally happy that game time has arrived. - Jeff Rexroad
To be honest it's kind of silly but I don't do much of anything on fight day, I lay in bed all day and try to think of things other than fighting. Even when I'm at the arena I try to be somewhere else until I get into the cage, otherwise I'd be a nervous wreck. - JJ Amrbose