Monday, May 18, 2009

Jitters Gone, "Professor X" Ready for UFC 98

Originally posted on

He certainly didn’t look it, but Xavier Foupa-Pokam says the UFC jitters got him at UFC 97.

“I was feeling very great in the locker-room, and just before the corridor to the path to the Octagon,” Foupa-Pokam told “Then, I started to feel tense and didn't fight the way I should have. I wasn't lucid; I was short of breath.”

“Professor X” is far from alone in the experience. The UFC debut continues to be, for lack of a better term, an “X factor" when evaluating newcomers. Foupa-Pokam had 29 fights on his resume when he stepped into the cage. But as so much anecdotal evidence has shown, even the most experienced fighters can lose their composure when they step onto the big stage.

His opponent, Denis Kang, suffered his own jitters on his debut at UFC 93, despite 40-plus fights on his ledger.

Nevertheless, Professor X blasted Kang with kicks and punches throughout much of their three-round battle, looking every bit an explosive menace. But he says adrenaline made him more tired than ever before.

“I had troubles recovering rapidly, and I made mistakes I normally never do that spoiled a lot of energy,” he said. "Normally, I often go to a fight very confident. I consider a fight like a party that celebrates the end of a hard preparation; that's maybe why I often dance a bit when on the path to the cage or the ring. The day before the fight, I was still wondering why a lot of journalists were asking me if I wasn't afraid of feeling too nervous on this first UFC fight. Now I understand why.”

Foupa-Pokam is embarrassed when he looks at the fight now.

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