Heading into his fight against Chad Curry at LFA 20 last August, welterweight Nick Barnes was coming off a self-imposed layoff and felt all the better for it.
“I felt like I performed really well,” Barnes told MMAWeekly.com. “Prior to that fight I had taken a year off after the loss in the previous year (to Brian Camozzi). I took some time off and get my health straight and work on my game. I was really working on myself the whole year.
“Coming back to fight Chad, I wanted to go in there with all the pieces in place, and I felt like I did that. Going in there I felt confident, I felt strong, and my camp went well going into that fight. I went in relaxed, calm, and fully confident in my abilities to do what I needed to do to get the win.”
Initially Barnes had taken time off to sharpen his physical skills, but quickly he realized it was his mental game that needed the most adjusting.
“After the loss I was really down on myself and doubted myself as a fighter and my abilities,” said Barnes. “It was supposed to be about my skills, but what really what needed the most work was my mindset and how I saw myself as a fighter. It definitely helped out a lot.”
Barnes (12-2) will look to build off his momentum from last year when he takes on Curtis Millender (13-3) in a 170-pound main event at LFA 30 in Costa Mesa, California, this Friday night.
“Curtis is definitely a tough opponent,” Barnes said. “He’s a tall guy, has reach, and is a good kickboxer. I have to keep my hands up when I step in the cage, be light on my fight, and really work my angles.
“I feel like this win for either of us could take us up to the UFC level. We both have something to go for in this fight, but I’m just going to go out there and perform.”
Having seen what happens to other fighters who make grand plans for their futures, Barnes is going to focus more on himself and his immediate opportunities in 2018.
“Other guys have goals to be champions in certain organizations and whatnot, and when that happens they tend to lose that spark because they don’t want to lose their championship,” said Barnes. “For me, my overall goal in this sport is just to be as solid as I can be as a fighter.
“I take every fight seriously. I look at every fight like it’s a growing opportunity. I look forward to where I can progress in the future, but for right now I don’t look much past Curtis – that’s my main goal.”