Cage Warriors

Fighting Mentality – Modestas Bukauskas

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What goes on in the mind of a fighter? It is a question that has been asked by many, on numerous occasions, why do they fight? How do they recover from those potential career-defining injuries? What is it like suffering those big losses? How do they get prepared for the biggest fights in their career? During this series I hope to answer all these questions, I have got in contact with a list of fighters, from various styles of fighting, different promotions and different periods in time, to try and get to the bottom of what goes on in the mind of a fighter. No more delay, take a look into the mind of a fighter starting with UFC superstar and ex Cage Warriors Champion Modestas Bukauskas.


When was it that you first decided to get into martial arts? What was it that made you want to start? Was there a motive that got you to start?

Modestas with his father

Modestas Bukauskas – ” to be honest it was because I thought it looked pretty cool, and obviously my dad was my main influence, he was a fighter back in the day, the Soviet Union heavyweight champion, so obviously he wanted me to be able to defend myself, it wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to do it as a sport or career, or anything it was just like, if any kid started to mess with you, you want to be able to protect yourself, so he literally just started to train me like that, with kickboxing and samba, then shortly after we realised we got good at it, and we started competing, and you know low and behold I won the British kickboxing championship for four different age groups, so yeah my dad was my biggest influence, and obviously it started off him training us very lightly, showing us a couple of techniques, like I said it was pretty cool, the stuff he was showing us and what not, but then it got very serious very quickly you know, I have vivid memories of me, I was sitting indoors in the dark room waiting for my dad to come home after picking my sister up from school, and you know kids playing outdoors, and I got to train my arse off for like 2 hours, but it was pretty amazing, I’m so glad that we did it, and yeah that’s why inevitably it made me the disciplined and determined man I am today, all because of that I was being thought earlier on in life. “

Tell me about what you go through when you lose a fight? How do you feel? Your emotions and thoughts, and how do you overcome that to get back up and start over again? It can be the 1st loss you suffered or every loss is there a recurring emotion?

Modestas Bukauskas – ” After my first defeat and even after my second defeat that I had in MMA, it was very disappointing because I felt, I had the skills and the tools ready and available for me to go out and win, its a very big shame and disappointment whenever it happens, I just didn’t perform or you know I got caught, I think it was mainly because mentally I wasn’t in the right space, and I just didn’t have that killer mindset which I have now, through those losses they taught me a lot of things, I had to handle things mentally and even put me in certain training situations where it helped to build that, the toughness and aggression, I’d been needing the whole time, so it did highlight some errors in my training, and what I was doing which inevitably helped me correct my mistakes, so as much as the losses where a very big negative and a very hurtful point in my life, when your going back to the changing room you really don’t know how to feel its just the worst feeling, you feel the lowest of the low, but you know already having the friends and family and stuff like that, being there to support you, being able to pick yourself back up to the drawing board, and then the motivation of proving people wrong, people think your down and out and have nothing left, then you go out and train even harder, it gives you even more motivation to work on those skill sets, and those areas for you to go out and correct those mistakes and prove everyone wrong.

Have you suffered a serious injury in your career? If so how did you feel when it happened? What were you thinking? How did you get through the injury and what made you want to continue fighting after the injury?

Meniscal Tear image provided by Google Images

Modestas Bukauskas – ” I’ve had two pretty bad knee injuries, I’ve tore my miniscus the first injury, then dislocated my knee twice, those have been the most serious injuries iv had, and yeah I think when I tore my miniscus it was the most painfttrul and the hardest to come back from, because obviously after those 2 losses I just got back in the best shape of my life, you know I corrected all the mistakes I’m ready to go mentally, to go and tear up the scene, and the next thing you know I’m training, and then from all the over training I’d done and all the things I’d done wrong, that was what caused the injury, if I could give advice to young fighters, it would be do not over train, you know sometimes your not being a pussy just because you don’t train as much, you got to really listen to your body, and take the correct precautions in order to get the most out of yourself, so yeah I injured myself when I felt at the top of my game, at the peak, I was in amazing shape and ready to go, and prove to the world that I wasn’t down and out, I was ready to show what I was really capable of, and then a lot of bad things happened at the same time, I’d lost a sponsor, I broke up with long term girlfriend, had no money or job, so there was a lot of bad things that happened during that time, it was very difficult you know I had some suicidal thoughts and some bad things running through my mind, but again I’m lucky and very fortunate to have friends and family that was able to be there for me through the hard times, especially my dad, you know pushing me and motivating me telling me, ‘ son don’t let this effect you, you will be a world champion one day, you just got to keep pushing through, don’t let this set you back’ and I think it was because of that, I was spurred on, it was very difficult you know, because you want to see improvement, you get the operation, then the rehab you expect everything to be back to normal in like a couple of weeks, but in reality it takes months, so it’s just having the patience, and show up every damn day, just keep doing what is required in order to get the injury fixed instead of moping about it or feeling sorry for yourself, you just got to do everything in your power to work around it, and improving other areas, like I would train from sitting dowbln and stuff like that which increased my power and strength, there’s always a way to adapt and overcome, again I’m lucky I have amazing people like my dad that was able to help give me guidence to be able to get back to top form. “

Dislocated Knee Google images

” When I dislocated me knee the first time, I was actually glad it happened, this is the other knee, I had just won 2 in a row coming back from injury, and had a lot of things socially effecting me negatively, in my mind and I just wasn’t free in my head, so I was glad it happened, it gave me time to reflect on myself and give me time to do different things, hang out with different people and it made me just improve myself socially and stuff like that, the second time it happened even though it was annoying that it happened just 3 weeks before my world title defence it was a big blow, I have amazing coaches like Danny Batton telling me you got to stay calm, you know we’re going to get through this and everything will be OK, and luckily I have amazing people like distinct Physiotherapist Leanne, who is my physio, she’s helped me for so many years, she got me back to top form, I called her at 12 o clock the night I injured it, she told me I got a appointment for you the next day and she sorted me out with excersizes, gave me all the guidelines on how I should train and stuff like that and I was able to get in the cage 3 weeks later, after dislocating my knee for a second time and to come out with a win, so yeah although these things are painful and annoying it is like a big set back for most athletes, you just got to find a way to adapt and overcome, and get through it, do everything that is required to get you back to full strength and work on alother areas, just keep a positive mindset that’s what people forget when you put yourself in a hole you have to dig yourself back out, have people around you to motivate you and push you. “

For what you consider to be your biggest fight to date? How did you feel in the lead up to the fight? What were you feeling going into it?  How did you manage to control those emotions during the fight, and then how did you feel after the fight was over-explain what you felt?

Modestas Bukauskas – ” I feel the biggest fight to date by far has got to be the Hamlet fight, it was a fight where everyone thought I was going to lose. I was a 4/1 underdog everyone had counted me out, nobody gave me a chance, it was as if he was already at the UFC there had been talk about it, I was the massive underdog, obviously going into the fight I felt there was far more pressure on him than me, so when I won it turned a lot of heads and shocked a lot of people, which is how I got the attention of the UFC, because their eyes had been firmly on Hamlet, everything played to my favour, with any pressure or stressful situation it makes me perform even better came out on top because I embrace the feeling. I used to be quite shy, I never did anything crazy or outlandish, now with the things iv gone through and the feeling of not caring just going out there and embracing the situation, it was funny because on ‘Take me out’ that whole experience, putting my self out there going on a TV show has helped me get to the top and again, I had visualisation before the Hamlet fight, I was going to win, I had a sponsor saying he would sponsor me for 1 year providing I won, and stuff like that.

This was when I quit my job 4 weeks before the fight, my dad asked me he said, look you can quit before or after the fight but I think you should quit now and put all your eggs in one basket because I know your going to win, I took his advice I took that leap of faith, I think sometimes you just got to jump off that cliff and not worry about it, it gives you that fight or flight and makes you more hungry, even going into the fight I’d visualised so much, the victory the feelings of winning and after the fight, that was what would happen, it was exactly how I pictured in my head the happiness and relief, I got so excited doing all these crazy things and putting myself out there, makes me more excited I’m very thankful for that and can’t wait for the challenges ahead. “

Make sure to support Bukauskas’ career by following his socials.

Twitter – @ModestasBukaus1
Instagram – modyb24
Facebook – Modestas Bukauskas 

Join us soon for part 2 of the series where I will be taking a look at BKB, WLC and WBC Muay Thai champion Toby Bindon

Follow me on Twitter at @JamesRees83 and follow us @OT_Heroics for more great content!

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James Rees is host of ReesTalks Podcast and a Football, F1 and MMA writer, who strives to bring you the best content aswel as bringing you interviews with some of the sports top stars.