ALWAYS READY FOR A FIGHT.
Before being married to Ian I'd walk into coffee shop simply thinking about whether their croissants looked fresh - now I have no such luxurious frivolous thoughts. My ever romantic husband holds open the door for me and I walk in praying that whoever scurries in behind me better thank him.
Otherwise my coffee morning can switch very fast.
Ian has never been in a fight outside of the octagon - but understand this for a moment: From diet to mindset and the obvious physical training, a UFC fighter is undergoing elite programming to get them ready for battle. This professional training WORKS, 9 times out of 10 they're more than ready to fight anyone.
My husband is now loudly calling out "The word you're looking for is Thank You, You f*cking fool" as I am left praying the sneaky culprit doesn't react. We all know my husband is not in the wrong, the "f*cking fool" part was absolutely unnecessary but the point stands. Ian really doesn't care if it's a tiny old lady or a 7ft giant. If he holds the door open for you, you really should just Thank him.
In the famous novel 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' Ford Prefect explains that towels are "The most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." UFC fighters have firmly noted this unique piece of advice. If you're ever in need of a towel I guarantee your local UFC fighter will have three in their possession at all times. Two in his bag and at least one in the boot of his car ready for the inevitable end of the world. Every morning he'll take two towels to training and come home with three sweat soaked towels - one accidentally stolen from a team mate, he'll then take two fresh towels to his S&C session and by 2pm we have five towels filling the washing machine. He's still not been to his evening training session where again multiple towels are needed and then come home to swim and shower before bed. Each day on average I'll wash 9 towels I still can't comprehend the math! This pattern is repeated to a point that our walk in closet is mostly Towels. When he fought in the iconic Maddison Square Garden arena he was gifted his most precious momento. An MSG embroidered Towel.
A MASSIVE EGO
There's quite a debate about the human Ego however in all the top class elite athletes I have spent time with (I'll take this moment to gloat for context 'cos worked I worked for over ten years with the greatest...Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Zlatan and more) It is understood and embraced that a strong and healthy Ego is the most valuable tool in sport. You must have an abundance of self belief breeding a true unwavering self confidence every time step on to the pitch. I remember a renowned goal keeper explaining to me that his self belief is so huge he believes he will score in every match... and he's a goal keeper!
At high level sports you're going to be surrounded by athletes you've watched grow and succeed, stars you're a fan of. You can't possibly function at their level if you don't believe you belong there.
Your Ego chooses where you belong.
The alternative is Foolishness. Imagine the idiocy of entering an octagon to fight another man who you know has trained for 12 weeks specifically to beat you and you don't think you're greater! Think about the dangers a split second of hesitancy due to a lack of Ego will bring you. That split second where you didn't have a bullet proof mind, where you allowed doubt you creep in is more than enough time for a right hand to land on your chin and put a weak Ego to sleep.
In this game Ego is not the enemy. Self doubt is.
My husband has one of the strongest Ego's in the sport. There's more than a few reasons he's constantly compared to 'The Notorious' Conor McGregor. Ian's Ego is so solid that when I say "I love you" his first words back are not what anyone ever expects. In private and in public he always says the same thing often turning heads.
"I know you do, I Love me too"
CONSTANTLY MEASURING FOOD AND WATER
To fight in the UFC you fight in a specific weight class. My husband is a Welterweight which means 24hours before his fight he has to weigh in (literally on a scale in public) at 170lb or under.
How fighters who normally walk around at 186 / 210lb manage this is generally via the most backward and quite honestly stupid technique of water loading and deep dehydration. A water cut. The age old theory was to try and get the advantage over your opponent by cheating the system but it's totally wasted when both men are doing the same 'hack'. Alas some traditions stick simply because no one is brave enough to change.
My husbands weight is constantly a topic of conversation.
He wakes up, pees, weighs himself, puts the weight into the What'sApp group that features his conditioning coach and full time nutritionist then spends about ten mins discussing whether the floor in our bathroom is level as shuffles the scales around to see whether the number changes. It's not the late night nachos or extra chunk of chocolate that effects the scale, it's the uneven floor that is to blame.
BEING HIT IN MY SLEEP
A study in 2001 concluded that rats dream about the maze they went through during the day. Scientists have since believed that humans have a similar disposition where their dreams help form deep memories by reliving the day. This study helps me find some solace after being elbowed firmly in the face in my sleep!
There's a stage around two weeks out from a fight where my husbands excitement, adrenalin and obsessive focus means all he thinks about is fighting. Now knowing that all you're thinking about forms what you're dreaming about imagine the battles he faces in his sleep when he's training three times a day and about to step in-front of a global audience.
I've been kicked, elbowed, faced a hammer fist to the nose and taken a body shot all in my slumber. He doesn't even wake up to celebrate landing each shot perfectly. Two weeks out from a fight I now sleep with my back to him and two pillows in between. Poor pillows.
As I sit and write all this down it hits me just how crazy it is living with a UFC fighter. Thankfully not much in my life is normal.
Normal isn't something we aspire to be.