André Fili took his first win in over two years over the weekend, and Hard to Touch attributes this to a change in mentality regarding wrestling.
Feely joined the UFC in 2013 but struggled to put together the resume that many expected from the then 23-year-old fighter. In his nine years in the UFC, Feely was only able to post a 10-8 record with one no contest, but he looked rejuvenated at UFC Vegas 60 with a decision win over the much-touted Bill Algeo in an emotional victory. Speaking Wednesday Hour MMA, Feely attributed his performance to an improved outlook on life and wrestling.
“As a child, I didn’t feel much love, but no one loves you like after winning a fight,” Fili said. “You win a fight and it’s thousands of strangers and they want to hug you and lift you up and say you’re a man. You get this 30 seconds after winning a fight where you are the most adored person in the whole arena, in the whole room. Whether it’s a 30,000-person arena or a 3,000-person bingo hall at an Indian casino, you are a man and everyone loves you.
“I think I dreamed about it as a child. I wanted those external validations, and now as a true adult, if I can call myself that, I am in a place where I truly love myself and I truly find happiness in internal validations, meaningful relationships, and making the right choices. I have changed the way I talk to myself internally, I have changed my internal dialogue. I’ve made all these adjustments and I no longer crave that external validation like I used to. I want to win fights now for healthier and more meaningful reasons.
“For the first time, I treat myself as a person for whose happiness I am responsible, as a person who really deserves to be happy,” continued Fili. “For most of my life, I didn’t really like myself. In fact, I hated myself for most of my life and my internal dialogue was incredibly hard on me.
“I have so much more love for myself [now]and, in turn, I have a lot more love to give to other people. I’m more compassionate, I’m more empathetic, I’m operating from this deeper well of kindness that I haven’t had in a long time because that wasn’t how I operated and I thought that was the way it should be because that’s it. that served me early in my career and early in my life. Now I’m in a place where there’s more love. I deserve happiness, I deserve to be treated kindly. I’m still hard on myself, I’m still hard, I don’t believe in over-celebrating small victories, I don’t believe in excuses. … But I also know that loving yourself, allowing yourself to have fun, and being kind to yourself is okay.”
However, according to Fili, it was important for him not just to learn to love himself. It also meant a reassessment of his relationship with MMA.
Fili believes that some of his recent performances have been influenced by the way he approached the fight – something he adapted to the fight with Algeo.
“I think that was the big missing piece, and I think the other missing piece is the fun,” Fili said. “When I was just a vicious little bastard, spitting blood, talking shit, fighting in Indian casinos for $1,000, fighting these wars and being just a monster, I had fun. Then I got into the UFC and everyone was yelling at me until I lost to Max, and then the story changed. I’ve been up and down, up and down over the last few years. People kind of wrote me off, and I started to treat it like a job, looking at the fact that “Mighty Mouse” [Demetrious Johnson] and what Anderson Silva does, and “I want to be one of the best, I want to cement a legacy and get into the Hall of Fame, and I have to do it and act like that!” I started trying to force this thing.
“Then I came out of that fight and looked at my trainer Danny Castillo. … I looked at him when I went to this fight and I said, “We did it any other way. We’re having a hell of a lot of fun tonight.” And I went out there, and I had fun, and I performed very well, in my opinion. I’m back to having fun and that’s what I’m going to do from now on and you guys are going to see some special shit.”
The result speaks for itself. Fili looked his best in years against Algeo and is still only 32 years old. “Handy” believes that he still has a lot to give to the world of MMA.
“I fucking love to fight,” Fili said. “I don’t always like the process. I don’t always like fight week and the media and the pictures and the fucking talk and all the stupid, banal training that people want. I don’t always love this shit, but I love fighting, I love fistfighting, I love making my people proud of me, I love this fucking game so much and it’s nice to have fun again.
“It’s like my marriage or something. I’ve been on the mat since I was 11, MMA since I was 14. I’m 32. This is my longest relationship and it hasn’t always been the healthiest, but it’s like a marriage and now we’re in a place where we’re good. We went through all our traumas and now we can enjoy this shit and it’s so good. I am so grateful for this. I love this shit.”