With each UFC debut comes a larger audience, more media obligations and brighter lights. Often times fighters go from making a few hundred dollars in a casino to fighting in Las Vegas’ most luxurious arena with millions of people watching around the world.
For some debuting fighters, these differences between fighting on the local circuit and in the big leagues are difficult to adjust to. So difficult that it creates a massive amount of pressure, which overwhelms these fighters. They don’t perform to the best of their abilities. Far from it. They crumple.
But other debuting fighters thrive under the UFC banner. They soak in everything the new experience has to offer. They don’t worry about pressure or being nervous. That doesn’t even cross their minds. They step inside the Octagon for the first time and look better than ever before.
Marvin Vettori falls under the latter category.
Vettori made his debut against Alberto Uda at UFC 202 last month. He entered the fight as the slight favorite, and proved in the fight why that was the case. The middleweight fighter was taken down by Uda, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, very momentarily, but reversed the position and eventually scored a submission victory late in the first round.
It wasn’t just Vettori’s first time fighting in Las Vegas; it was his first time in Las Vegas, period. It was his debut. His fight served as the first fight of the night. And he’s young and relatively inexperienced. With all of that in mind, it seemed more probable than not that the Mezzocorona, Italy native would have felt lots of pressure going into the matchup. But, according to the 22-year-old, he felt absolutely none.
“To be honest, I’ve been very good at handling the pressure,” Vettori told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. “I was happy to be there, I was where I wanted to be. I just tried to enjoy everything: the environment, all the UFC stuff around, the media.
“Walking out, I wasn’t feeling any pressure. I was very happy; [there was] a lot of energy — in the right way — right mindset and yeah. Sometimes, you’re not there with your mind. You’re working, but you’re not there. I don’t know how to explain it. But that day, everything was in-line. My mind and body were on the same line. So I was very happy about the mindset and everything.”
Relief is a common feeling after a fight inside the Octagon — for the winner, of course. Fighters are thankful their plan of winning came to fruition, because there is always a chance of losing. After two months of grueling, strenuous and exhausting training, the win is finally in the bag. It’s over. It’s time to relax. And, most of all, the win bonus has been secured.
But that wasn’t quite what Vettori felt post-fight. Vettori simply felt the excitement and happiness of being victorious. He was thrilled, definitely. But not relieved.
“Once I won, I was like, ‘Wow, nice. I got my first submission win in the UFC. It’s good,’” he said. “There will be many more, but that was the first one. That’s something special. I think there was more a sense of joy than relief. Relief is more like, let’s say I was there and the whole week I was feeling a lot of pressure. I wouldn’t have been feeling good the whole week. And then after the fight, [I would have been] relieved. But like I said, I’ve been enjoying everything. So it was just joy after my win.”