Pro fighters may seem like some of the cockiest people on the planet, given the arrogant acts many put on at press conferences, or the sheer amount of courage it takes just to step inside the octagon.
But folks in the UFC are just like any athlete—sometimes, they struggle with confidence. Such was the case with Jessica Eye, who will take on Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship at UFC 238.
After dominating her way to a 11-2 start in professional mixed martial arts, Eye suffered a string of four consecutive defeats beginning in July 2015. During that slide, she began seeing a sports psychologist to get herself in a better head space both inside and outside the octagon. During a Q&A session prior to UFC 203, Eye detailed how her sports psychologist helped her regain her confidence:
“I know I haven’t been on the best run. I’ve had personal issues that I’ve sorted out. I recommend that if [an athlete has] ever thought about seeing a sports psychologist, if you might need some help, go get it. Who cares what other people think? Go do what you gotta do to make yourself better. I’m fortunate enough that I decided to do that…I stopped believing for a long time in myself. That was my tagline: I’m a believer. And I stopped believing.”
For Eye, the results have been impressive. After nearly being released by the UFC in the fall of 2016, she took a 16-month break from competitive fighting to train and re-focus. Since her return in January 2018, Eye’s ripped off three consecutive victories to earn herself a title shot.
Her advice is meaningful to any athlete who’s ever struggled with self-confidence. It’s a tough battle, but one that can be won. Sports psychologists help athletes eliminate doubt and put them in a position to be successful. Read more on the topic and get tips from top experts in STACK’s Sports Psychology section.