Mixed Martial Arts was not on my radar. Sure, I'd seen a fight here and there, but as an investor, I paid little attention to the world of combat sports. It wasn't until I met Trevor Wittman, founder of ONX Sports, that my perspective on MMA changed.
At ONX Sports, the belief is that champions are honed, not born. Trevor, a 16-time World Champion coach, taught me that fighting is about facing your fears head-on and conquering your self-doubt. This mindset is also a key tenant at Black Lab Sports when it comes to looking for the right founders to partner with and the best people with which to surround ourselves.
The importance of that bold and purpose-first outlook hit home last week as I watched Justin Gaethje, Trevor’s protégé, make his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut. He was up against the veteran and heavy favorite Michael Johnson, who spent much of the lead-in talking smack and boosting his own ego. Justin, on the other hand, didn’t waste energy telling everyone he was the best. Instead, he trained hard, built his internal self-confidence, and committed to his strategy of relentless movement forward.
When the fight arrived, Justin attacked it like a successful entrepreneur would have: keeping his focus, taking shot after shot, and continuing to step forward every time he got hit in the face. He executed his plan to a tee. Trevor, in his corner, encouraged Justin to keep moving forward with unwavering pressure, confident that a spectacular knockout would come from repeated kicks to the thigh and an unremitting attitude. In the end, that’s what happened, as Justin broke Johnson’s will and knocked him out in the third round.
Watching that fight, I realized that MMA, UFC, and other combat sports are about much more than two people hitting each other. They’re about identifying your purpose, creating a vision for the outcome, and asking yourself: How much do you really want this fight? Are you willing to face your deepest fears? When you get punched in the head and your world is rocked, do you back up, or are you prepared to step forward and keep fighting? I may not be able to relate to the experience in the ring, but I can relate to that mindset, because successful entrepreneurs ask themselves the very same questions.
Trevor was able to find the purpose in fighting and build a company that would support his athletes. Globally, there are 50 million people that use some form of fighting as fitness. This is not a trend; it’s a return to the most natural and primitive forms of movement and self-defense. Even without ever hitting another person, there are physical and psychological benefits to be gained from using raw physicality to unearth the best in yourself and your rivals. That is at the core of our investment in ONX Sports.
To learn more about ONX Sports and Trevor's ground-breaking combat equipment, visit http://onxsports.com/.
To keep up with Justin's exciting career, follow him on Twitter at @Justin_Gaethje.