Before Juan Adams’ last two fights, he made changes that he thought would accelerate his UFC rise even faster. But they weren’t the changes he needed.
Adams focused on physically perfecting his lifestyle – eating right and living healthier. What followed were back-to-back losses. Adams then realized the issues weren’t physical; they were mental.
“It’s been tumultuous. It’s been a dream of mine to fight in the UFC and I had a lot of expectations after Dana White’s Contender Series,” Adams said. “I don’t think I responded to the pressure too well. After my debut I didn’t enjoy this anymore. I enjoyed fighting. But everything else was constant pressure and obligations.”
Adams has spoken out on social media recently about how he has been dealing with anxiety. He’s been talking to people about it while learning new coping mechanisms and techniques. Conversations and messages he’s received from fans have also helped.
Now he’s realized there’s more to the fight game than putting on an entertaining show. As a UFC fighter, he has a platform and a voice that many don’t.
“If I can help someone else that was like me growing up, then it’s a job well done,” he said. “I’m doing better now. For the first time I’m not really nervous.
“This is first fight since these changes,” Adams said of his fight against Justin Tafa at UFC 247 this Saturday. “I’ve always gone to a therapist on and off but I’ve always won so I didn’t change anything. After two losses I needed to change my lifestyle and truths about how I was training.”
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Adams tackled those truths by training full-time at the Jackson-Wink MMA Academy ahead of UFC 247. It’s changed his whole approach. Before, Adams lived the opposite of the “first guy in, last guy out” mentality. When his required training was over he would rush home.
After his loss in July to Greg Hardy, a close friend suggested that Adams move to a better camp, one where he needed to be pushed. Earlier this fall, after a day of training at Jackson Wink, Adams knew it was the place for him. He announced his decision to move there full-time and, coincidentally, two hours later he got a call to fight at UFC 247.
“I feel extremely confident entering this fight. My whole outlook is I’m excited to get to practice and work with people,” Adams said. “I’m surrounded by high-level athletes that force me to be on my stuff. Always.”
Included on Adams’ new team is perhaps the highest-level athlete the sport has ever seen – Jon Jones. Jones, of course, is headlining UFC 247 against Dominick Reyes.
Adams has had a front row seat to watch Jones train the last three months. Jones’ preparation, mentally and physically, is something Adams has never witnessed in MMA.
“Jones is the only fighter I’ve seen where every session he has three to six coaches working and critiquing him to perfection. He’s on a different level.”
All the pieces seem to be lining up for Adams to reach a next level of his own.