As I head into fight week of my second straight event in Canada, this one is a little bit different. Last time at UFC 149 in Calgary, I got a lot of media attention because it was my home town. And then there was that whole media circus around me saving that couple who were being robbed and chasing down their attackers.
For those who don’t know the story, it was late one night in Calgary when I saw a couple being beaten up outside of a Starbucks. I had to do something about it so I broke it up and chased the attackers, which eventually helped get them arrested. My main concern was I can’t let them get away with it.
It’s funny though because after that whole incident, for a while I wasn’t known as the UFC fighter from Calgary, I was that guy that saved the couple. People would recognize me on the street, not for being in the UFC, but for being that guy who saved the couple. I guess that’s why I was in the media a lot and interviewed on TV. It was ridiculous, I was all over all the local news. I’ve never had so much press in my life. For a long time I was just that “superhero” guy.
But it’s back to business now. The media attention is always nice, but now I have a job to do, which is to get in the cage and fight and put on a show. I’ve still gotten some media attention and I expect I’ll be doing a few things once I’m in Montreal but I try to mainly focus on my training, and just do the media stuff when it comes up. It’s been good. Last time it was a little hectic, this has been perfect.
I think the focus really needs be on my fight against Costa Philippou because I’ve had a couple close fights recently that went to the judges, which I wasn’t used to prior to joining the UFC. Before I got into the UFC, I finished most of the people I fought. Obviously guys in the UFC are way tougher. I didn’t have a lot of really hard wars before getting into the UFC, so it’s been a big adjustment fighting at this level. We’re not in Kansas anymore.
But the biggest adjustment for me was overcoming my ACL injury, which of course has been a big topic leading into Saturday’s UFC 154, only it has been focused on another guy. Georges St-Pierre is attempting to do the same thing I did, which is successfully return from ACL surgery.
Since I trained with him at Tristar for a bit leading into the fight, I got a chance to talk to him about my experience, because basically I had the exact same injury and surgery. I feel the pain that Georges is going through and we basically shared war wounds.
After seeing Georges training quite a bit, I can say he is doing very well. He’s a really hard worker and that’s the key. I think we’re going to see a really good fight. He is also a mentally tough guy and very resilient. I think that mentally he’s in a really good place right now. If anything, the time off was just a much needed break.
Time heals all wounds, as long as you’re not trying to push it. With an ACL, after you get the surgery, the muscles don’t retract quite as quickly at first. With any injury, the muscles don’t want to fire quite as quickly because they’re trying to protect themselves. So you’re not moving as fast, you’re not quite as stable when you land. But if you do proper proprioception exercises (jumps, landings, etc), eventually it will start firing properly.
You just have to put your body through the right kinds of stimuli. The muscles need awareness of time and space, shifting weight and balance. Once your muscles gain the proper response to gravity and pushing off and that kind of thing, then you can’t start to work them harder. But you just have to be patient and diligent in your exercises.
For me, it wasn’t that bad when the knee started firing properly, and the injury is ancient history. Now is the time to focus on my future, which is my fight versus Philippou on Saturday…
Middleweight Nick (The Promise) Ring takes on Costa Philippou at UFC 154 in Montreal on Nov. 17, on pay-per-view. Watch live preliminary fights at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and early prelims on Sportsnet.ca at 6 p.m. ET.