Dan Ige says he had to get past the stigma of men being weak in order to deal with the mental struggles of losing three fights in a row.
After Ige knocked out Gavin Tucker, he got a main event fight against Korean Zombie in what could be a title eliminator. Unfortnately, Ige suffered a decision loss and then lost two more fights to Josh Emmett and Movsar Evloev.
The losses were tough, especially due to the fact Ige is a dad now and always in the gym. He says his identity was about winning and that really impacted his mental health.
“I haven’t won since March 2021. I consider myself one of the hardest, (most) dedicated workers in the game,” Ige said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “In a way, my perfectionism is the biggest rock in my shoe, it holds me back sometimes because I want to do everything right and never leave a stone unturned. That pressure kind of builds up. It started a little more so when I became a dad and coincidentally, I lost three times in a row when I became a dad. I think it is just the little extra pressure I put on myself. I’m already doing everything possible and then when I became a dad, I thought I had to do more and more. I think that pressure does take a little bit from me to perform freely.
‘I was depressed for a little bit’
“When I lost to Korean Zombie, I went into that fight, I felt really good, had a great training camp, and was motivated and wanted to make a big statement,” Dan Ige continued. “I thought if I knock this guy out, I can get a title shot. So, that was my only game plan was to do something big and he beat me out of technicalities. Losing that, the first loss as a dad, I took that one pretty hard. I was depressed for a little bit, I put a lot into winning and losing, and my identity was placed on that. Going into the Emmett fight, I remember walking out, I was so numb and had no feelings or emotions. I walked out and I wasn’t there and I still fought a good fight, I showed a lot of skill and some people thought I won.
“I got through that one. But, I got confidence in that one because it was such a close fight against such a dangerous guy,” Ige added. “I took confidence out of that fight and then I went into that Movsar fight. It took me losing three times to really dig deep and dig to my roots. Just start working on myself and working on my mental health and personal life more than my work ethic in the gym because I put everything into the gym.”
Not only did Dan Ige start to focus on himself and his mental health he said he also spoke to a sports psychologist. The Hawaiian says that is something he should have done years ago, but had to mentally get past the stigma of men talking about their feelings and emotions.
“I spoke to a sports psychologist, doing things I don’t normally do and a stigma that men shouldn’t do like you are considered weak if you look for help or talk to other people,” Ige said. “A lot of good came from that and going through that it helped me reveal my greater purpose… We are superheroes two or three times a year when we go into the cage and do great things. But, outside of that, I’m a human like you and anyone else and I have the same feelings and emotions. Just getting rooted and grounded again and understanding my feelings has helped me become a better fighter.”
What do you make of Dan Ige opening up on his mental health struggles?