Entrepreneurs Should Watch the Mayweather-McGregor Fight, But Not Just to See Who Wins
This weekend Conor McGregor will fight Floyd Mayweather, the top boxer in the world with a 49-0 record. I'll be watching, that's for sure, but I am not watching to see who wins. What interests me in how whoever loses handles the post-fight press conference.
From the outside, there’s nothing about me that would make you think I follow the UFC. Just looking at me, the last thing you’d think I care about is mixed martial arts. So why did I get into the UFC?
It was just after I started Chorus.ai and was selling day in and day out. That's what you do when you're starting a business. You sell to investors and new employees. You sell to customers. I was betting a lot on a new, unproven idea that you could analyze a sales team’s conversations at scale to understand why you win or lose deals, and why some reps are better than others.
You put yourself out there in front of your family, friends and the world. And then you fail, a lot. A lot of that failure is necessary to learn. Sometimes that failure just sucks. You need to pick yourself up.
In the UFC, the top people in the world lose on one of the biggest stages possible, publicly, in the rawest possible way. They go down hard after spending weeks telling the world they are the best. As strange as this sounds, a part of me empathizes with that. I got sucked in watching how the best fighters in the world deal with a catastrophic loss.
Ronda Rousey gets knocked unconscious.
Ronda Rousey had gone undefeated and was one of the UFC’s mega stars, until she was knocked unconscious by a head-kick from Holly Holm.
Nate Diaz defeats Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor had a meteoric rise, fighting the best in the featherweight division. Then, he faced off against Jose Aldo, a champion who hadn’t lost a fight in 10 years. Conor knocked him unconscious 13 seconds into their fight in the Octagon. He then went up a weight class to fight the champion at Lightweight. Due to injury, Nate Diaz was substituted in on two-weeks notice. Conor lost by submission, meaning he gave up. This loss to the #10 ranked Lightweight broke Conor’s 15-fight winning streak and his seeming invincibility.
Cody Garbrandt dances to victory over Dominick Cruz.
Dominick Cruz is recognized as the best Bantamweight of all time. He became champion, then had to give up his belt and was sidelined for three years due to knee injuries and surgeries. After three years, he came back, immediately fought the then-champion TJ Dillashaw, and won. In his next fight, he not only lost, but was thoroughly outclassed by up-and-comer Cody Garbrandt.
Based on what I’ve seen in the UFC, there are three ways you can handle a catastrophic loss:
1. Disappear like Ronda Rousey.
After being knocked out by Holly Holm, she disappeared from the octagon and from the public eye for a year. To this day, she hasn’t discussed her loss to Holly, or her subsequent loss to Amanda Nunez. Many question if she’ll ever fight again.
2. Come back and fight again like Conor McGregor.
He showed up to the post-fight press conference devastated. Despite Nate Diaz being a terrible match-up for him, he demanded and got an immediate rematch with all the same fight conditions. He won the rematch by Majority Decision, then went on to win the Lightweight belt. He became the first UFC fighter to hold the belts for two weight classes simultaneously.
3. Be a class act like Dominick Cruz.
He lost for the first time in a dominant performance by Cody Garbrandt. Instead of telling you how he handled it, I encourage you to watch the post-fight video. I’m saving this for when my kids grow up and suffer defeat.
When I hit a rough patch in my work, I strive to be more like Conor McGregor or Dominick Cruz.
Here’s are key lessons I learned from top UFC athletes that I do my best to apply to sales and startup life:
Show up every day.
Whether you had a good day or a bad day, show up the next day and put in the work. You can almost be sure that the person who puts in more work day in and day out will come out on top.
Build the confidence you need in the Octagon, out of the Octagon.
Confidence can be the difference between winning and losing. It permeates every part of your mind, body language and actions. Confidence from one part of your life translates to others. If you had a rocky quarter or lost a big deal, you can steal some momentum from wins in other aspects of your life to pick yourself back up. Fighters push themselves hard in training so that when they are in a fight and have nothing left, they can remember back to all the other times they had nothing left in training and made it through.
Always be learning from others.
Mixed martial arts is just that - mixed. Fighters train with people that are better than them in a given discipline (e.g. boxing, jiu jitsu, wrestling, etc.), or have a different style to become well rounded. Surround yourself with people with superpowers to maximize your strengths as a team. Don’t choose people to minimize weaknesses, and make the time to learn from one another.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting and learning from mistakes.
The best people fail. Build a culture where it’s OK to make mistakes, but build a process where you can learn from those mistakes. When we lose a candidate, or a competitive deal -- we go back to our process, review the tape and see what we should do differently. Do that and maybe you'll be champion but you will certainly be a contender.