Losing sucks. Whether it’s losing the sale, losing the big game, or even losing a wallet. There is rarely a time that losing is a positive, unless someone is losing unhealthy weight or a bad attitude. In Adam Stroup’s case, almost all of the above are applicable in the last two years.
In 2016, Stroup went from 10-2 as a pro fighter, with aspirations of moving into the UFC, to 10-4 with aspirations of winning at least one fight on the local circuit. As the year came to a close, the Colorado native was ready to put the year behind him and start off fresh.
Entering 2017 with a full head of steam and the potential to fight at Legacy Fighting Alliance 5 in February, Stroup suffered another setback. He endured a training-related injury that sidelined him for the first half of the year. Then came Andrew Kapel at Sparta Combat League 60 in July.
Stroup was confident he could beat Kapel. He had a size advantage. He had the hometown crowd on his side. He knew he had a lot more power, too. However, the unthinkable set him back once again.
“I was really excited for it,” Stroup told Combat Press. “I felt like it was a great fight for me on the feet. In the first exchange, I hurt him, and instead of taking my time and really taking my shots, I rushed in, and he swung a hard left hook and hit me right on the chin. It put me on my butt, and I never really regained my composure. It was just a big mistake on my part. I know that I would beat him 10 times in a row if I fought him again, but I just made a mistake.”
Losing sucks. It’s especially disheartening when a fighter works so hard for so long — taking time off, eating a restrictive diet, pushing his body to the limit — only to come up empty-handed. This takes an emotional toll.
“To be honest, it’s really frustrating,” Stroup said. “I’m not losing these fights because I’m not working hard. I’m not losing these fights because I’m not eating right or doing the right things. I could say that, but I’m doing all the right things. I’m not getting the right results. It’s really frustrating and really heartbreaking in the end.
“I need to remind myself why I’m in this sport and why I train at all, [which is] because I love this sport. There’s no guarantee of a win, but I love this sport and feel that I have the ability. I need to get back into the win column and keep it that way. I just need to keep working and get what I deserve.”
Just because a fighter is down, it does not mean he’s out — unless he lets himself be out. Stroup can’t control the wrestler who won’t actually fight him. He can’t control the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt that can’t take a punch and immediately drops to guard. He certainly can’t control getting caught with a hook. What he can control, though, is how hard he works, as well as his own attitude and mentality going into the next battle. That’s where Stroup is today.
“I’m eating well and, of course, I train full-time at Factory X,” said Stroup. “I don’t think it’s the preparation that’s the problem. The preparation is just fine. It’s my decisions in the fight itself, at least in the last two fights. I’ve made the adjustments to reap the benefits.”
He’ll try to reap the benefits of this change in mentality on Saturday night, Oct. 14, at SCL 62 at the Denver Coliseum. It’s only fitting that the promoter has coined this event “Unbroken.” Stroup is not broken. He’s not out. He’s just down, but he’s not down forever. At SCL 62, he is on tap to face Wyoming’s Billy Martin.
Martin has 24 pro fights under his belt, but he’s only 27 years old. He has fought across three different weight classes, and Stroup will be his fourth opponent of 2017.
“I think he’s a pretty tough guy,” Stroup said. “He’s kind of a brawler — just an old-fashioned fighter in that sense. He’s not like a big wrestler or a big jiu-jitsu guy. He just looks like a brawler.
“I’m looking for a first-round finish. I’m looking to make a statement on the 14th.”
Stroup’s mentality going into this fight is to keep it simple and do what he does best. He’s learned from his last three fights, which consist of one decision and two submissions, and he has no intention of letting this one get away. He knows he should be at the top. More importantly, he knows he can be at the top. It’s time to execute and keep moving forward.
“Depending on how this goes, I would like to win and turn right around and get another fight on the books,” Stroup said. “Getting one more win by the end of the year would be really nice. There was a point when I had seven or eight wins in a row. It seems like that was a lifetime ago. But I know that I have that potential and I know that I can compete with these guys. I just need to make it happen.
“That’s what I’m going to do in the next year. I’m going to win three [or] four fights in a row. If I win three fights in a row, that puts me right back with the best guys in the world. It doesn’t take a lot to get to the top level, but, unfortunately, I’ve been bumping my head trying to get to that top level. But I feel it’s very attainable.”
While loss has been a theme for Stroup, he has been trying to put it behind him. During this camp, another kind of loss struck that really put his life into the right perspective. On Sept. 9, Stephen Zinanti, Stroup’s 100-year-old grandpa and longtime roommate, passed away of old age. Stroup is not the type of guy to go on a self-promoting tirade about how this one is for Gramps or anything like that. He didn’t blow up social media either. He mourned the loss of a loved one.
“He always supported me, he always believed in me, and I just don’t want to let him down in that sense,” Stroup said. “I just want to keep working and keep coming after my dream. If he can see me now or watch me, I just want to make him proud. I don’t want him to think him being gone affects me in a negative way. I just want to make him proud.”
Losing sucks. Stroup has dealt with a lot of it lately. Now, it’s time to lose the worry, lose the negativity, and lose those feelings that keep him down. He may have lost his grandpa, but he knows that the best way to honor his relative is to win on Saturday night and keep winning until he gets back to the top echelon of MMA, where he belongs.