No fighter ever wants to suffer their first loss, but in the world of combat sports it’s not always about winning or losing, more so about what can be learned from both winning and losing. Just a month before he turned 22 years-old, Mike Kimbel suffered his first professional loss in his career to John Douma.
While the fight didn’t go his way, Kimbel now prepares to take on Sebastian Ruiz at Bellator 222 which takes place on Friday, June 14, at Madison Square Garden. Kimbel spoke to MyMMANews about suffering his first loss, the lessons learned from that fight, how he’s going to bounce back at MSG, and why he’s focused on fighting for himself now.
For some fighters, all that matters to them is winning or losing inside the cage, but for Mike Kimbel, who is always focused on winning, every chance he gets inside the cage, is another opportunity for him to learn.
“Yeah, any time I get to step in the cage and put time into that underdog life, especially the degree of the lights I was under in that last fight, it’s always a learning experience. Knowing that I need to cut weight but then they want me to wake up at 7am and do interviews, because all the media attention from being on the main card. So now I know what to expect and how to handle it. As far as the fight, I went in there to fight, he [Douma] went in there and showed some women’s self-defense, it is what it is.”
In his last fight at Bellator 215 against John Douma, Mike Kimbel said the main issues came from stuff outside of the cage, from his opponent’s trash talk to fighting in his backyard of Connecticut, all of which saw Kimbel get emotionally invested into the fight.
“A lot of it was outside the cage and mental toughness. I feel like I got emotionally invested in that fight as to where every other fight it’s just my skill against their skill. He was talking a lot about how he’s going to do this and that and saying things, so I went in there and wanted to toss him around. I feel like I bullied the bully, but I just did a little too much bullying, I should’ve reserved just a bit and he would’ve gotten up out of there.”
Taking lessons learned from his fight against Douma, Mike Kimbel went overseas to train with Michael Venom Page, and then went down to Florida and started training with Henri Hooft and the team at HardKnocks 365, a move he believes he’ll benefit greatly from.
“Henri Hooft has followed me and showed support throughout my career, and actually one of my best friends is down in Florida, so I went down there to visit my friend and Henri told me to just come to the gym and visit. I went there and trained for a week, it was great and it was hard, and I told myself I needed to be in an environment like this [at HardKnocks 365]. Not for nothing, there’s a lot of great talent in Connecticut, but it’s not in abundance. So I went to Florida and put myself, a teen lion, among lions.”
Now that he’s made changes and learned lessons, when he steps inside Madison Square Garden, Mike Kimbel is bringing back the focus to the person who matters most, himself.
“My first couple fights were for me, I had something to prove. Nobody believed that a kid from a city of large dreams would make an impact, so those two were for myself. My last fight, you know, main card, there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. That fight, I didn’t even get the name John Douma until three weeks before the fight, so that fight was for the people. Everybody was there for me, I went out there for the people. This fight and every fight from now on is for me, because at the end of the day I’m the one who puts the work in, I’m the one who puts my life on the line, and I’m the one who goes out there. So this one is for me.”
When Mike Kimbel steps into the cage at Bellator 222, he will come in with lessons learned, moves made, and a clear mindset that his fighting career is for himself. Rather than seeing how Kimbel will bounce back from the loss, the eyes should be on how he uses the lessons learned from his last fight, to help him when he steps inside Madison Square Garden.