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UFC vet Giagos opens up on depression after losing first fight since release

Christos Giagos admits he fell into a depression after suffering a stoppage loss in his first fight back in the regional circuit following his UFC release last year.

MMA: UFC 179-Burns vs Mendez Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Christos Giagos was released from the UFC after a unanimous decision loss to top prospect Chris Wade in June 2015. Many people — including himself — questioned the organization’s decision to remove the 26-year-old from its roster because he was only 1-2 in the UFC after the loss and wasn’t on a multi-fight losing streak. On top of that, Wade is a tough outing for the majority of the UFC lightweight roster and only has lost once under the UFC banner.

“I was pretty shocked to be honest,” Giagos told’s The MMA Circus. “There’s no way I saw it coming. First fight, they kind of fed me to the wolves a little bit. I fought Gilbert Burns in Brazil. Then they wanted me to go back to Brazil, right after — first two UFC fights were in Brazil. But I went over there, had a first-round submission and I was the only American to win on that card. Then, I took a short notice fight against a very tough Chris Wade and lost a close decision. They liked my performance. They actually re-signed me for a little bit more money too. So, I signed the contract, thinking they re-signed me. Six-months later, I get the call that I’m cut from the UFC.”

But it happened. Giagos received the dreaded call in which he was told he was no longer a UFC fighter. But he didn’t spend much time dwelling on the disappointing news. He returned to action after over six months on the sidelines (the layoff was due to an injury) at a regional show in Calfornia, West Coast Fighting Championship 16. He fought future UFC fighter Josh Emmett for the organization’s lightweight strap.

He entered the January bout with the same mentality shared by several fighters who receive the pink slip from the UFC. He believed he was better than Emmett because of his UFC experience and it ended up costing him.

“I went in there thinking I was going to smash this kid, he’s not on my level, I fought in the UFC, stuff like that,” he admitted. “I went into that fight way too aggressive and if you would have seen that fight versus my last fight, you could tell the big difference that I had.

“I looked at the guys he fought, and there was nobody really that he’s fought that was like a name. The guys’ records he’s fought were kind of wack, so I went in there thinking like, ‘Yeah, this guy’s fought nobody like me.’ So, I tried to put the pressure on him, show him what’s up. And I did fairly well until I got caught with the overhand. I got caught with a couple overhands actually. And, I’m not making an excuse, but I felt at the end of the first round my thumb just hurt. Towards the end of the fight, I started to use more of my left hand, kicks and so on, until I got caught with that last hard overhand right. But he does hit hard, he’s a good fighter.”

After coming up short in a fight he knew he needed to win in order to be able to make a case for a UFC return in the foreseeable future, he fell into a depression for the first time ever.

“I was definitely depressed after the fight,” he said. “First time I’ve felt that depression, actually, in my whole life. After that fight, I was like, ‘Man, what am I doing? Do I even deserve this? Should I even fight?’ There were a bunch of questions going through my head. I saw his fight, and he did fairly well in the UFC, and I was like, ‘Okay, at least I didn’t lose to some chump.’ I lost to someone worthy, so, that’s not too bad. So I knew in my next fight after that I had to make a statement. And I got to do it in front of Dana White — that was pretty awesome.”

During his depression, Giagos limited training and didn’t do too much besides partaking in his day job. He took this time to relax — for the worse, though. And the state of depression lasted for quite awhile.

“Probably like a solid month,” he said. “I didn’t really do anything like workout or anything for a month. I kind of just chilled, worked as much as I [could], make money and just kind of chilled at home a lot. It was weird; I never have felt like that before. I don’t like feeling like that. I got to snap myself out of it. I told myself, ‘Idiot, what are you doing? Stop being a little punk.’ I snapped myself out of it and started training really, really hard. I just got back to my groove.”

The Azusa, California-native received a lot of support from his loved ones during the tough time. And, according to him, that’s what changed his mindset and ultimately put an end to his depression.

“It was definitely the people I hang around with,” he said. “I had all my friends telling me, ‘Dude, that was a great fight. Don’t let that fight change the outcome of your career.’ I had good support from my girlfriend, my coaches. Everyone was telling me, ‘It’s just a small bump — don’t worry, you’ll be back.’ There were a lot of positive vibes around me, so that really helped me. To be honest, the big thing was just watching Josh Emmett fight in the UFC and how well he did. I was like, ‘Man, okay, at least it doesn’t look that bad for me.’ That really helped me out and gave me some confidence back. I just wanted to prove myself again.”

Giagos got back into the winning column with an impressive first-round TKO over WEC veteran Karen Darabedyan at RFA 38 last month. After the victory, he had a short conversation with UFC president Dana White, who was taping his show “Lookin’ For A Fight” at the event.

“It honestly felt great. It was the best feeling in the world,” he said. “I had a lot of emotions. I heard Dana White was going to be there for his new show. And I was just patient, I was really patient. I had to force myself — I was actually talking to myself in the fight like, ‘Chill... chill.’ Because I cracked him with a hard right in the beginning that stumbled him, and I wanted to pounce him so bad, but I was like, ‘Just chill, just chill, just chill,’ in my head. I was basically just talking to myself. And I caught him with a nice combination that put him out cold.

“Dana White had nothing but good things to say about me. He said that I look like I belong back in the UFC. So that was cool. Hopefully if my manager can get me in, that’d be great, if not, maybe I win one more and we can start talking.”

Giagos believes he’ll be given more leeway than usual when it comes to a return to the UFC because of three factors: He’s still only 26-years-old and has plenty of time to mature and improve as a fighter; his only loss since his UFC release is to a current UFC fighter; he was cut from the UFC after only one consecutive loss — perhaps rare circumstances.

“I think with the statement I made, yeah (I should be re-signed),” he said. “But I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. I understand, on paper it obviously looks not so well. But if you dig deep and see who I lost to and the way they cut me was kind of messed up, then yeah. But it’s all politics so I’m not worried about it. I’m going to keep fighting, do it for the love of the sport.

“I can tell you this — I can promise you I’ll be back in the UFC one day. I don’t when — I don’t know if it’s now or later, but I will be.”

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