Jeremy Pender (pictured) is scheduled to face Shah Bobonis on Dec. 2 at XFC 15 in Tampa, FL.

Back for the second round of my blog series. I feel like it’s important for me to go over a couple of things. For this entry I’ll go with ‘Why do you fight?’. There are about as many answers to that question as there are fighters.

Mine, like most, is a combination of many things. I love personal competition and there’s nothing more personal for me than getting in a cage, on a mat, or in a ring with another person to see who’s the superior FIGHTER. I capped fighter because I think it’s important in knowing the difference between someone who is bred since birth to test themselves physically and mentally with another person. There are many athletes who choose mma, boxing, wrestling, etc. as their sport, and in a lot of cases they do very well, but there are a far fewer fighters. You have to be born with something different inside of you, something that a “normal life” just can’t sustain.

I hear bystanders, fans, and even family members, many times say things like “I could never do that!” or “You’d have to be crazy to get in there!” and maybe they’re right on both counts but for certain I know that they don’t operate the same way as I do. They wonder why someone would intentionally put themselves in harms way for, in most cases, little or no money. It’s a difficult question to ask yourself, but I’ve found an answer that I agree with for the most part in a book called ‘A fighter’s mind’ by Sam Sheridan. It goes something along the lines of “We choose to put ourselves in harms way in spite of our best interest, because to us, the choice to do so, is more important than our interest.”

I really liked that quote and it speaks volumes on how a fighters mind works in comparison to a ‘regular Joe’. Apart from the importance of that choice and being born different, there’s money, attention, affection from fans, and in some cases fame. These are all perks of the job, but they’re not a reason to do it. If you need money and accolades in order to do what you do, you probably need to change careers. Until you would do what you do for nothing, you won’t be truly happy, or in many cases successful.

The biggest benefit I see from doing this, is that maybe, somewhere, someone sees me following my dream of being a fighter, a warrior, and says to themselves ‘If he can do that, I can do what I want to do!’ If just one person chooses to follow their dream for just one more day because of something I did, or said, I feel like the beatings I take everyday are worth it. It’s so important to me to let people know that it’s OK to follow your dream and be happy. You don’t have to work at a job you hate everyday and live a life that bores you.

To me, being poor is OK. I didn’t grow up with money, or what most would call a functional family. I still enjoyed my childhood and was loved by my parents. I have a great brother and sister that I didn’t get to see very much growing up, but neither of them had an especially privileged upbringing. We turned out fine! (I know some of you may say, yeah you fight people in a cage for a living and not much of one at that! yeah… real fine.) I just want to make the point that struggling and getting by living check to check isn’t THAT terrible. There are people in the world that are MUCH happier than we are with MUCH less than we have. Don’t waste time by being negative about your situation. It’s YOUR situation, if you don’t like it, CHANGE IT!

In closing, I’d like to address the monotony and hardships that come with training and life in general when in preparation for a fight, or anything important. It’s imperative that you stay motivated and find a way to stay on the path, to keep moving forward. I’ve had countless days where I would have much rather stayed in bed or played video games all day than go get my butt kicked all over the mat or ring. Whether you’re training for a fight, or preparing for anything important in your life I am going to add some links to videos that help me find a little bit extra motivation. Some you may have seen 100 times, some you may have never seen, that’s not important. What’s important is that you listen and apply the messages in a way that helps you stay on track!

To get more updates on my training and random nonsense follow me on Twitter @ponyboymma. I also want to thank my sponsors who are supporting me as I get ready for this fight – Swole Sports Nutrition, Get’Em Boy, Lexani, On Point Athletics, and my newest sponsor, WrapWrench.

“Staying Gold” is a weekly blog series written by professional fighter Jeremy Pender as he prepares for his Dec. 2 fight at XFC 15. “Staying Gold” is part of our ongoing series of exclusive content written by individuals involved in the mixed martial arts industry. For more information on Pender, visit The Matthew Wellington Group.

Inspiration: How Bad Do You Want It?
Impossible is nothing
Be Great, Powerful Beyond Measure
I am a champion
Al Pacino’s Inspirational Speech: Any Given Sunday
Absolutely the best motivational video ever

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