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Spicely flew to Brazil, took the fight, and in less than three minutes he had his first UFC win and a Performance of the Night bonus. It was a career-altering win in more ways than one. On the positive side, it secured his spot on the roster. On the negative end, it dulled his edge.

“I think the problem is that I stopped getting nervous,” said Spicely, who went 1-3 in his next four Octagon bouts and was cut before two wins on the regional circuit brought him back to the UFC. “I almost rested on that laurel of ‘Okay, I beat Thiago Santos and then I beat Alessio Di Chirico.’ And honestly, I wasn’t afraid anymore and I think that was something that was missing because as soon as I left the UFC and I was back on the regional scene, I felt those nerves again. I felt scared and I felt like I had all these doubts.” 

“Do I still have it?” 

“Can I compete?” 

“Can I do this?” 

Yes, yes, and yes. And that’s why he’s back in the big show. But admitting that he needs those nerves and those doubts is an honest answer from an honest fighter.

“If you look at all of these guys that are highly successful, Donald Cerrone is talking about how he’s sick when he wants to go out and fight,” said Spicely. “And that’s true and it’s something that I lost and something that I had every fight leading up to the UFC, most of my UFC fights, and once I started becoming successful I kind of got away from that. Even in training, I think the worst thing you can do is think ‘I’m gonna crush this guy,’ So that’s how I changed my outlook on things and I translated that to not just be nervous and not perform, but nervous and perform at my best.”

And once he gets that call to make the walk again, the goals are clear.

“Right now, I just need to get back on track and win,” said Spicely. “I’m 2-5 in the UFC, I haven’t won a fight in the UFC since 2017, so my focus is only on winning the next one and building it from there. I know what I’m capable of, I know how I perform in the gym, and even my last fight on six days’ notice, I was able to show what I’m really capable of. I want to keep my job and I do think I can make a run and do well with a lot of the top contenders in the division. But I don’t like to look too far ahead because I will get distracted. I’m overly cautious about not taking it a hundred percent as serious as I can and I just want to do everything right because this is what I love, this is what sets my soul on fire, and I would love to continue to keep fighting and living the life that I live and entertaining fans.”

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