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Evan Tanner Loses Battle To Okami, But Wins The War

I don’t write the following for my own sake, because I feel
putting all of it out there is a path to self healing. I don’t write this,
seeking words of encouragement, or advice, or hoping for understanding:

This last weekend I faced one of those defining moments that
come rarely in the course of a lifetime…Oh, I am extremely disappointed in the
defeat, embarrassed beyond belief.  I feel…

so bad to have disappointed so many
people. I feel I embarrassed my coach, my school, the Team Tanner members, and
everyone who believed in me and stood by me. I am deeply hurt that I couldn’t
do better for them. I lost the fight, and I am embarrassed…but I won the
war…Five months ago, I was near the end, I sincerely believe I was near the end
of my life. It was the culmination of 15 or more years of heavy, heavy drinking…I
had lost everything I had worked for, everything good in my life. I lost my
home, my fiancé, the beautiful woman I had been with for seven years, almost
all of my friends, most of what I owned, my self respect, and the respect of
those around me. I lost almost everything. I almost lost myself…I decided one
day that I was done with it. I set a date: October 10, 2007. On that day, I
quit drinking, cold, no weaning my way off of it, no rehab, no drugs, nothing
to ease the pain. And I suffered. It was the most difficult thing I have ever
done in my life. I packed up all that I
had left, and went to
Las Vegas
to begin rebuilding my life. I had no place to stay, and no money…I began
training again about mid October, so lightly at first. I could barely move. I
had been near collapsing just a week before. It is said that it is so intense that many die during the detox period.
I had moments when I first quit that my chest and arm would start cramping and
my heart would pound strangely. I set up
an very strict diet and trained everyday. I began to feel a little better as
the days went by. I signed the fight for UFC 82 and began to get in shape for
that. I started the Team Tanner project, and began work on a lot of other
projects. Everything was falling into place. Everything seemed to be going
great, but the drinking, my addiction was still fresh on my mind. I had quit
drinking, but I knew my greatest test would be when I had to face extreme
disappointment…My fight at UFC 82 could arguably be considered the most
important of my “fight” career. I was an aging former world champion trying to
break into the scene again after a long layoff. I sat out as the sport evolved,
and it was said that I was too old, and the sport had passed me by, that my day
was done. I could be said that there was so much riding on that fight, that
there was so much to prove, …and there was…I sat alone with my coach in the
dressing room after the fight. No words, nothing to say, both just sitting
there staring at the floor. It was an unbearably heavy sadness. We sat there
without words, as the tears came to my eyes. I had to stand up and walk away as
they rolled down my face. I didn’t want to bother my coach with them. They were
mine, mine to deal with.

I had just stepped out of the Octagon where I had stood face
to face with one of the top fighters in the world, but it was there, in the
dressing room behind the scenes after the fight that night, that I waged my
greatest battle. It would have been so easy to have picked up the bottle again
in that moment, to have made the decision to go back to it. I could have
thought “I tried so hard, I did everything right, and this is my reward?” I
could have cursed the heavens and gone back to the bottle. My addiction was
still fresh with me. It would have been so easy. And the thought was there,
tempting me, teasing me.

That moment, in the silence of the dressing room, faced with
crushing disappointment, numbing embarrassment, and that heavy sadness, I faced
the old demons. I felt so low, as if everything had been lost. I wanted to
drink. I faced those old demons again, and I beat them down. I won the battle,
and I won the war. I didn’t drink, and I won’t. That was my great test, one I
had to face before I could really move on. I passed it. I stand triumphant,
solid, UNSHAKEABLE.

The loss at UFC 82 was a setback, and I am very disappointed
in that, but considering what I just came out of, the fact that I was near
collapsing just months ago, that I was almost on the streets, I feel it was
huge that I was even able to step into the ring again. I faced my fears, and my
greatest weakness, and won. Despite the loss, I’m feeling very good, and highly
motivated. There is still a belt out there to win. Now it’s time to get to work.
I’m not going anywhere. I’m back in training this week.

(from his blog EvanTanner.net)

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