It’s always good to have a victory speech chosen beforehand in case you get the microphone thrust in your face after you win. Most likely, you’ll be tired, possibly concussed, half-delirious, and still in fight or flight mode while trying to sound coherent.
A fighter should generally know what they want to say, because making it up on the fly under those circumstances is really hard. The several minutes after you win is the most opportune time to sell yourself and possibly set yourself up for another match. Your value is at its highest point, just having won, and everyone is listening to what you’re about to say.
I like when fighters are humble and they say they don’t care who they fight, they’re just honored to be here in the UFC, thank you Dana, etc. However, they aren’t doing their career any favors this way. In fact, it’s almost a waste to not promote oneself. It’s possible to not sound arrogant and make a good, memorable case.
In the MMA fight world, being remembered and staying on people’s minds after your fight finished is paramount, and contributes to your value in the industry. That’s one good thing about being on The Ultimate Fighter – fights are on every week, and you have a chance to be seen by fans once a week in some capacity.
“Sugar” Sean O’Malley didn’t seem to have a plan after his win over Petr Yan several weeks ago. When the announcer went over to him and asked him who he wanted to fight next, Sean replied that he’d have to re-watch the fight first.
My first impression based off his body language and the way he was speaking was that he was actually surprised he won and hadn’t thought he’d be making a speech.
Therefore, struggling to come up with something, he verbally fumbled just to get something out. Later in a media scrum interview, he stated that it was indeed a close fight and they each won at least one round, but he did more damage, so of course he won.
Sean admitted to the media that he had a headache and wanted to go home and rest. It was a nice recovery. He avoided sounding surprised he won, and actually came across as confident and ready to take the next step in his career.
Islam Makhachev, on the other hand, did have a plan. Or possibly Khabib had the plan and Islam agreed to it. They called out Alexander Volkanovski to fight, insulting his stature and skill.
It’s smart of Islam’s team to try and get as many high-level fights as possible to make as much money as possible. That call-out really sold an unlikely fight, as Volk isn’t in Islam’s usual weight class. But the UFC can do whatever it wants, especially when it comes to tantalising and lucrative pay-per-views, and that fight was confirmed last week.
In my fight career, I’ve made many speech plans. After my fight against Antonina Shevchenko, I said, “I want to fight Cyborg…just kidding!” as a joke. I’ve never cared who I fought next, so I always just asked for somebody in the top ten.
I can’t call anyone out or smack talk, so I don’t even try. Match-makers never give me anybody I ask for anyway, so I gave up on that. My goal is to not sound like a dork.
One time I think I did well was when I had a victory over either Antonina or Maycee Barber, I said that I didn’t want to be thought of as just a gatekeeper, but I still belonged in the top 10. I didn’t call anybody out but said what I strongly believed, and I had backed it up with my victory.
Top 10 fighter
Another time I think I rambled on a little too long was after my retirement fight, I was trying to say something deep and meaningful like, “It’s time to pass the gloves on to the next generation.” I could have done better but couldn’t think well after what I had experienced.
Sometimes, I needed help remembering stuff.
“Remind me to thank Lorenzo,” I remember asking my head coach John Wood several times. My strength and conditioning trainer Lorenzo Pavlica played such an essential part in my training, but for some reason, I kept forgetting to thank him on the mic, along with my striking and grappling trainers.
A fighter should at least plan something like the following: “If I win, I’ll thank these people, and ask to fight this person.” This way, they can take advantage of the key moment after they win that they shine the brightest, and people listen the hardest to their words.
Some fighters use that moment for a heart-felt message, like when Khalil Rountree called out to anyone considering suicide to “stick around, you matter,” and Paddy Pimblett begged depressed friends to talk about their feelings.
Those are noble messages indeed, and something that should be thought out beforehand. Don’t waste the opportunity with a clumsy, off-the-cuff (or glove) speech.