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Power of the Octagon: Mixed Martial Arts Inspiration for Personal and Professional Success

Power of the Octagon: Mixed Martial Arts Inspiration for Personal and Professional Success

by Anthony Johnson

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The sport of mixed martial arts provides its fans and athletes with a unique set of practices, philosophies, and techniques that can generate results and success in any aspect of life. Like the champions of MMA, there are those who excel in the world of business-those who have the ability to break sales quotas, build unstoppable teams, create dynamic businesses, and


The sport of mixed martial arts provides its fans and athletes with a unique set of practices, philosophies, and techniques that can generate results and success in any aspect of life. Like the champions of MMA, there are those who excel in the world of business-those who have the ability to break sales quotas, build unstoppable teams, create dynamic businesses, and do so while savoring every minute they are alive. The connection between actions and mentalities of those who generate success is common to many fields, but in the world of MMA, the examples of how to generate results in ones area of endeavor is dynamically visible on multiple levels.

Power of the Octagon is a comprehensive guide to enhancing eight critical areas of excellence. These areas include creating one's vision; defining and using psychological drivers for increased motivation; eliminating fear; working with tenacity; maximizing dedication, passion, and focus on success; establishing leadership; dealing with setbacks; and harnessing the winning mind.

The goal of Power of the Octagon is to offer dynamic strategies of improvement in these eight areas in order to increase the overall performance of an individual. The skills you learn can contribute to accelerating your performance and helping you generate success in business, academics, military, and life in general. If you're striving to be a warrior of success inside or outside of the cage, Power of the Octagon can help.

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iUniverse, Incorporated
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Power of the Octagon

Mixed Martial Arts Inspiration for Personal and Professional Success

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Anthony Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-7037-4

Chapter One

Creating the Vision

"You'll never look back and regret chasing a dream. It's giving up that you look back and you regret doing." UFC Fighter, Sean Pierson


It all starts with a dream and a vision.

On January 17, 2005, Spike TV aired the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), and sixteen men started a journey that led them to the completion of a competition that would test them mentally and physically, but ultimately would provide them with an opportunity to fulfill a dream. The dream was to be selected as the Ultimate Fighter champion and to win a six figure contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) organization. The UFC, an organization owned by Zuffa LLC, headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the worldwide leader of mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions and events. The UFC is to MMA what the National Football League (NFL) is to football.

The first season of The Ultimate Fighter competition pitted man against man and sixteen fighters were whittled down to two finalists: Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Each week an episode of TUF displayed fights that showed men giving it their all. Men doing everything possible, physically and mentally, to win, and both Griffin and Bonnar stood to dominate at the end of season.

The Ultimate Fighter season finale was held on April 9, 2005, and the fight that took place between Griffin and Bonnar was epic. Rounds one through three were a display of striking intensity that had both fighters getting their even share of strikes, as well as even number of hits. By the end of round three, both fighters were bloodied and near exhaustion and yet they both stood strong when the horn called the round to an end. This fight is credited as being one of the events in the UFC history that had a substantial impact on the overall success and fan awareness of the sport, and of the UFC organization in general. Even Dana White, UFC President, was quoted as saying this fight was the "most important fight in UFC history." The fight, a battle between two dedicated and determined men, went to a decision by the judges to determine the winner. Forrest Griffin was victorious that day, but because of the heart that both men showed, both Griffin and Bonnar received six figure contracts with the UFC. Forrest went on to win the light-heavyweight belt from Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 86, and both fighters are still active and successful in the UFC today. Both Griffin and Bonnar identified, fought for, and realized their dream of being a UFC fighter.

They were in the right place to achieve their dreams, were prepared to receive the benefits of achieving their dreams, and took action to obtain their dreams.

Regardless, if your dream is to become the next world champion MMA fighter, or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you must have a dream, and you need to follow the vision of the dream. The great Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, once wrote, "Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements." I believe that every one of us is born to fulfill greatness during our time on Earth. The challenge bestowed upon us is to identify our potential and the things we truly want to achieve, as well as to properly prepare to achieve our dreams.

Finally, we need to take the necessary action to put our abilities into motion to make our dreams happen. It is too easy to ignore these steps and just live a life of basic existence. Your dreams may be much larger than mine, or vice versa, but the fact is that we all have dreams and we all were put here to achieve them.

In life, we have the opportunity to achieve our dreams or be part of someone else's accomplishments. UFC fighter, Kenny Florian, said it best: "You can't go living out someone's dream. You have to chase your passion, and chase what you love. I knew I had to do that. Otherwise, I'd be the old guy in the rocking chair saying, 'I wish I could have done that.'"

Success doesn't happen without a dream and a vision, and part of the effort of achieving your dreams is to monitor your progress.

Sometimes, tracking our progress is subjective or requires us to focus on intangible results, but one of the great things about a sport like MMA is the fact that the goal and end objective is tangible and visible. Winning the championship belt is the ultimate reward for the high level of work and effort that it takes to become an MMA champion, but before winning the championship, a fighter can track his or her progress by analyzing their fight record, martial arts belt certification, and physical fitness achievements such as strength, weight, and cardiovascular goals. The same tangible results can be identified and tracked for almost any life objective you strive to achieve. Rare is the man or woman who achieves success without having the dream or vision of what they are striving for. Powerful is the force that is a vision led by fierce determination, focus, and motivation.


Identifying and working to realize your dreams is a brave step that many fail to take. How many stories have you heard about people who wanted to become something in life, and yet they are doing nothing to actually achieve this vision? Opera composer, Gian Carlo Menotti, once said that, "Hell begins on the day when God grants us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts which we have wasted, of all that we might have done which we did not do." In a later chapter, I will teach you how to fuel the motivation you need to achieve your goals and objectives, but the first step towards developing any level of success is to first understand what you want to accomplish.

World famous inventor and scientist George Washington Carver was quoted as saying, "Where there is no vision, there is no hope," and I would add that where there is no vision, there is only randomness and chance. In other words, one might achieve a degree of success just by being in the right place at the right time, but this is like playing the lottery as your only vehicle of wealth accumulation. You might win, but chances are that you won't and your efforts (and money) will just be wasted. But armed with a dream and the passion to achieve your dream, you will be unstoppable.

As mentioned previously, those who know their ultimate objective or milestone relative to achieving a dream have a greater chance of staying on course and actually getting what they are striving for in life. If you know your ultimate objective, you can reverse engineer the steps that it takes to achieve your dreams.

Reverse engineering basically means you look at your final product (or achievement, in this case) and you dismantle it; break it down into the components that were required to assemble it. Reverse engineering is also a great way to make better an existing product, and the same philosophy can be applied to your dreams. For example, let's say your ultimate goal is to be the Vice-President of Sales for a large corporation.

Armed with that target, you can then reverse engineer the steps that you have to take in order to achieve the objective, or you can reverse engineer the path taken by someone who has already achieved the goals you are working to accomplish. Below is an example of how this process might look for you.

In reviewing illustration 1.1, you'll notice that starting from the bottom of the page and moving up, you'll see the proposed steps that the individual in the example has mapped out to chart his path towards achieving the VP of Sales position. Within each milestone are details about what his selected mentor (someone who achieved what he's working to achieve) completed, as well as what he thinks he must do to not only achieve the same results, but to achieve an even greater degree of success in each applicable step of the process.

You can also use the previous process to identify gaps or challenges you have to overcome. Let's say, for example, the aspiring VP in our reverse engineering sample did not graduate college, or maybe took longer to get promoted from one position to the next. Some might think that it's practically impossible for someone without a college degree to achieve the level of VP or an executive position of that caliber. This is not true, and there are hundreds and hundreds of examples where people without college degrees have moved up from within companies to hold executive positions, if not end up leading the company as CEO. Never let a perceived challenge block your desires and dreams. A person without a degree is going to have to work harder and achieve solid results in order to prove him or herself, but nothing is impossible.

The reverse engineering exercise allows people to see where they might have gaps such as this and then plan for exactly how they will overcome the challenge. Breaking down the steps that you'll need to follow in order to achieve success does not mean that you won't run into unexpected challenges, delays, or that you won't face defeats, but if you know what you're fighting for, and you know what steps to follow, your chances of success will outweigh those of the person without aim or purpose in this world.


If you are struggling to identify your dream, or finding it difficult to create a vision, or even connect with THE thing that you were born to do, let me ask you this question.

What would you do today if you were 100% sure that you would not only succeed, but that you would be considered one of the best in the world at it?

Or better yet ...

What would you do today that absolutely jives and excites you, if you were 100% sure that you would not only succeed, but that you would be considered one of the best in the world at it?

There's a clear difference between the two questions. There are people who are really good at business, sports, and entertainment, but they hate the very thing that is generating results for themselves. They do this thing they are really good at because it's what they are known for, or just because it pays the bills. This is not how you define your dream.

You define and create your dream by identifying the thing that absolutely excites you. The thing you love doing every day that you would be more than happy to do for the rest of your life. Maybe it's fighting in the UFC? Maybe it's traveling? Maybe it's helping people who are in need? Only you know the answer to this question, and it's critical that you answer it.

When your dreams and visions are identified and defined, you will be unstoppable. Examples of this statement are rich within the world of MMA. All you have to do is look at some of the current UFC Hall of Famers such as Chuck Liddell. Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell is a legend within MMA. Chuck made his UFC debut in 1998, but if you ask any MMA fan to name a fighter who has had a huge impact on the sport, chances are that you're going to hear the name Chuck Liddell quite often. Other legends of the sport such as Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Matt Hughes, Mark Coleman, Dan Severn, and Ken Shamrock are all UFC Hall of Famers, and all have deeply impacted MMA in a positive way, as well as established success and positive fight records in the UFC.

You don't get to the level of success that Randy Couture has by not having a plan, a dream, and a vision as to where you want to go in life. You don't get to a fight record of 46 wins, 9 loses, and zero draws, which is Matt Hughes' current fight statistic at the time of this writing, unless you're one dedicated and focused individual who knows what they want in life.

Thinking "big picture" about what one desires in life can be a daunting and intimidating task. For example, think about the amount of time, training, energy, and money involved in becoming a professional fighter. Most fighters are brown or black belt level practitioners in some form of martial arts, and many fighters have high level certifications in multiple disciplines. The average time involved in achieving a black belt is in the range of three to four years. Even if additional fighting techniques and sparring were included in the mix while the fighter achieved brown or black belt, you're still looking at several years just to achieve a decent level of fighting certification. Not only is there the investment of time, martial arts training, equipment, and even fighting costs money. Dojo's, or martial arts training gym's, can cost between $50 a month to hundreds of dollars a month for high-end schools. In addition to the time and money, there's the unquantifiable cost of bruises, cuts, and even broken bones.

So it's easy for someone just starting out in the sport to get overwhelmed and intimidated by the whole process if they think about it from start to finish.

With that in mind, it's important to remember that Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu once said that, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Don't get intimidated or overwhelmed by the long journey you must take; learn to envision the journey, chart your course, and enjoy each step of the voyage.

Professional project managers create massive project plans just to organize simple business flows such as order processing, and most people won't take the time to map out what they want to do in life, what steps they have to take in order to achieve milestones, and what the end goal might look like when they are finished. The beautiful thing is you don't even have to get that detailed with the plan. It can be as simple as:

• Month One: Find a gym, purchase basic equipment for training. Start lessons.

• Month Two: Earn yellow belt

• Month Three: Earn orange belt

• Month Four: Find a boxing camp and start taking lessons

• Month Five: Earn green belt

• Month Six: Stop boxing class and join Muay Thai class

• Month Seven: Earn blue belt

• Month Eight: Register for first amateur MMA fight

In other words, this process does not have to be complex. If you want to get detailed and plan out every week, every month, every year, that's fine, but you have to map the plan in a way that resonates with you.

In other words, begin planning your action and tracking your success. If it takes you two months versus one month to complete a stage, adjust and move on.

Life is about change and adapting.

As long as you're disciplined in your endeavors and not missing goals and milestones because of laziness, or lack of preparation, you're adapting and adjusting. I've dedicated this chapter's "Rules of the Octagon" exercise to the steps you need to take to identify and map out your dreams and the steps you need to take to achieve them.


Creating a vision is also about defining a legacy. Georges St-Pierre once said, "Legacy is making history in a sport, making something people will remember for a very long time, for many generations." In life, there is a beginning and an end. Your legacy is what you leave behind when your ride is over. Think about business people like Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie. These are people who achieved so much success and generated so many results during their lives that people today still know who they are, as well as respect their families. In the world of MMA, there is a family that has already established a legacy, and the family is only getting started. This family is named Gracie. The words "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" are synonymous with the name Gracie. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was first established by Carlos Gracie in 1925. The Gracie family created the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and aired the very first UFC competition on November 12, 1993. This event was won by Royce Gracie, one of the most predominant and legendary fighters in UFC history.

Today, the Gracie legacy and tradition is maintained by family members such as Ryron and Rener, who educate thousands of students via their schools and training videos.

Greg Jackson and Pat Miletich are other examples of prominent figures in the world of mixed martial arts that have defined a strong legacy in the sport.


Excerpted from Power of the Octagon by ANTHONY JOHNSON Copyright © 2011 by Anthony Johnson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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