Do anything long enough and it can become tedious, even when it’s something you love.
No matter your profession – plumber or president of a company, waitress or writer – everyone eventually hits a point where going to work each day can feel like a chore. The trick is finding a way to recharge your batteries, rekindle your passion and remember the elements that made you fall in love with your chosen career in the first place.
Professional athletes are no different.
While the masses see men and women being paid to play a sport and question how that could ever get tiresome, the competitors endure the day-to-day grind of practices and travel, big games and media commitments all while listening to a constant hum of criticism and wondering if someone is on the way up to take their place on the roster.
It’s not all that different for fighters in the UFC.
Although they don’t take to the Octagon as frequently as basketball players hit the hardwood, each appearance carries significantly more importance and there is no one else to pick up the slack if you’re having an off night. You and you alone determine your fate, and if you come out flat, chances are you’re in for a rough night.
Even in the midst of major slumps, players don’t often get benched and no team has ever been dropped from the NBA for losing back-to-back games, but come up short one time too many in the cage and your career in the UFC can come to a close.
That harsh reality can turn the excitement of getting to train every day and fight for a living into feeling like you’re punching a clock and going through the motions.
Andy Ogle has been there, but the 25-year-old featherweight is happy to report that he’s found his smile again.
“No matter what, at the end of the night, I’m going to come out of that cage smiling,” the energetic Englishman known as “The Little Axe” says, days before he returns to the Octagon Saturday night against UFC newcomer Makwan Amirkhani. “I kind of lost track of that a little the last while, but I’ve gotten that bug back.”
> See Andy Ogle's fighter profile
A contestant on Season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter, Ogle stood out because of his heart and determination. After losing to eventual finalist and current lightweight contender Al Iaquinta in the quarterfinals, he eventually made his debut against Akira Corassani, losing a questionable split decision that once again showcased his fighting spirit.
After picking up his first UFC victory on home soil in February 2013, Ogle has come out on the wrong end of the result in three straight fights, putting him on the hot seat heading into his return to action this weekend.
An optimist may say that the fact that he’s managed to remain on the roster despite a trio of defeats shows that the company sees something they like in him, but Ogle would rather just focus on the future and turning things around Saturday night in Stockholm.
“That’s a nice way to look at it,” Ogle laughs when presented with a positive spin on his current predicament. “The way I see it is that I beat Akira Corassani and I’m 2-3. Yes, I have lost them three and yes, they’ve been close fights, very entertaining fights and I assume that’s what kept me along, but I don’t feel as though Lady Luck has been on my side.
“Anyone can go in there with skill, but certain times, it’s just not your night and to be quite frank, it hasn’t been my night in a while – quite a while. But that’s in the past and all I’m thinking about is the future and beating this guy.”
Ogle prepared for this fight with Team Alpha Male and credits his Ultimate Fighter coach Urijah Faber and the squad of standouts in Sacramento with helping to reignite his passion for his profession.
He speaks of seeing veterans like Danny Castillo put his all into the business he runs, push through practices and still make time to volunteer at his church and work with the homeless, and the passion and commitment “The California Kid” attacks every element of his life with day after day.
Seeing their success and unwavering exuberance after all these years has proven to be inspirational for Ogle, a scrappy kid from Tynemouth whose last two fights were in Brazil and Germany that is readying to enter the Octagon in Sweden this weekend.
“When I was a child, I never thought that my fists would help me see the world and now I get to see the world through what I do,” he reflects. “Sometimes when I’m not having a good day, I just sit down and think, ‘I’m doing what I love every single day.’ I’m not living for the weekend like a lot of people; I live for every single day. I’m just so grateful for the life that I’ve been given.”
And though things haven’t gone his way as of late, Ogle sees it all as part of his development and hasn’t let the potential pressure of Saturday’s meeting with Amirkhani dampen his spirits or diminish his sense of humor either.
“I’m certainly going to ask this guy if he wants to touch gloves,” Ogle laughs in reference to his last outing, where Maximo Blanco flew across the Octagon and dropped him with a kick as he reached out to touch gloves.
“Even though I’m not happy with them fights and I want to do better and show the UFC that I’m capable of doing great things, I’m not going to shun what I’ve done in the past because it’s all a learning curve.
“The negatives pave the way to the future and you do learn more from your losses than you do your wins, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been in there with the best, I’ve been going hard and I’m still here to tell my story. I’m still developing and I’ve still got a smile on my face.
“Now I’m going to show everyone what all these lessons taught me.”
> Check out the full UFC Fight Night: Gustafsson vs. Johnson fight card