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“I changed my whole outlook; changed my whole approach to the sport. The way I was approaching it was the reason I kept getting into fights like that. It’s like changing part of your character or changing part of who you are, which is not a thing you can be aware of and just click your fingers and be like ‘Oh, I need to throw my right hand a bit more’ or ‘I needed to throw a lift-kick a bit more.’ Something technical is simple to change. But your entire approach to the sport, which is like your entire approach to life? It’s a massive shift.”

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His shift proved that despite training with the same people day after day, month after month, year after year, that you can still have those eye-opening moments that help you plot a new course. And it’s yet another credit to Eugene Bareman’s tutelage at New Zealand’s City Kickboxing.

“I’ve come to the realization that I like to fight more than I like to win. Then I’m going out and watching my teammates like Israel [Adesanya] go out and fight very technically. I’m going out and watching Alex Volkanovski. His fight against Max Holloway had to be the biggest shift. Because he had a tough first two rounds, getting caught early. At that moment then, I would have just been like, ‘Oh well, let’s go then! My back’s against the wall. Let’s fight back.’ But he stayed so composed. He stayed so technical, and it led to the result that he got. It led to him retaining the world title. So I can learn from my teammates and emulate different parts of that. Less of going out there to get in a fight. More to win a contest.”


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