Some of the most successful people in the world are not necessarily the ones with the most self-love. In fact, those people generally live delusional lives that can be stricken with failure. It’s those who can be critical of themselves, and want to strive to be better, that usually do better in life. UFC lightweight Austin Hubbard has no delusions about his fighting career.
The Illinois native started training in his home town, and eventually moved his camp over to the famous Miletich Fighting Systems in Eastern Iowa. However, the Miletich camp closed its doors two years later. Hubbard eventually made the move out to Colorado where he joined the Elevation Fight Team in 2015. After three years, he was 10-2 as a pro, had captured the Legacy Fighting Alliance lightweight title, and was on his way to the UFC.
Like many fighters, things changed once Hubbard landed in the big show. He lost his UFC debut to Davi Ramos. Then won his next bout over Kyle Prepolec. That became the case for his next four outings. He now sits at 3-3 in the UFC, and his last fight was a win over Dakota Bush last April.
“My first initial reaction immediately after the fight – I was happy, but I wasn’t content,” Hubbard told Combat Press. “I could’ve done some things better. I’m probably one of my harshest critics. You know, I’m always hard on myself. But, after going back and watching the fight a few times, I did better than I initially thought. There’s always room for improvement though.”
Any fighter can go back through and see things they could’ve done differently from a physical or strategic standpoint. However, it’s the intangible that can be difficult to pinpoint on tape. That requires a bit of introspection.
“Something that I have been focusing on very heavily – that I have never focused on in my life – I’ve been putting a lot of work into the mental aspect of fighting,” Hubbard explained. “I’m making sure that I am fully mentally prepared on fight night. Consistently, I feel like I always have very good fight camps. I just don’t always put myself into the right mindset. Especially, at this level. The UFC is really top-notch and the highest-regarded organization. I just needed to evolve into this new level that I’m at. It just takes a lot more focus than the regional scene.”
Hubbard’s mental prep helped him out quite a bit in his last fight, and he looks to carry that into tomorrow night. He will be facing veteran Vinc Pichel on the main card of UFC on ESPN 29, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Pichel made his UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale back in 2012. After going 2-1 in his first three UFC fights, Pichel suffered a torn labrum and bicep, which kept him sidelined for three years. He has since returned and gone 4-1. Pichel currently rides a two-fight winning streak after defeating Jim Miller a year ago.
“He’s an old vet,” Hubbard said. “He brings it, comes to fight and he’s not easily broken. [Pichel]’s never going to quit. From what I’ve seen, he’s a really headstrong type of dude. He’s pretty well-rounded. I’m expecting it to be a three-round war. That’s what I’m mentally preparing for. It’s just a matter of who’s going to be a little bit sharper.”
Having fought more recently, and with renewed mental preparation, Hubbard could be a lot sharper than Pichel. However, there is no sleeping on the veteran, who will be looking to string together his third win in a row.
Outside of fighting, Hubbard has a new development in his life, which has also put him in a better place. His wife Chelsea and step-daughter Sophie have moved to Denver to be with him after a drawn-out, long-distance relationship
“It’s been great,” Hubbard said. “We lived apart for two years, and it’s a million times better having them here. We had plans for this move for a while. But, things happened – injuries, lost fights, didn’t have the money – and Denver’s expensive. We just weren’t in the position to make it work until recently. Luckily, that all worked out and we get to be a family.”
Hubbard’s life has come together in many ways in 2021, and he’s looking to end the year with a bang. A dominant win over Pichel could put him back in the cage by year end, which is exactly what he wants. And, as it stands for now, he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“I like training,” said Hubbard. “I get to do what I love every single day. It’s definitely hard. It definitely has its highs and lows, but it’s worth it.”
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