MMA fighter Jose Torres has had a controversial career, but he maintains that mental health is a big part of the success and failure of the sport.
“It’s crazy because I never thought mental health was an important thing in sports,” Torres said. “The reason why I say that is because it’s a physical sport. I’m punching you in the head, I’m punching you here, elbow, kicking you, whatever the case may be.”
Though dominant at times in the ring, Torres would fight his own terror and demons outside of it. He had to learn how to manage the stress of performance and expectation before the competition.
He said nerves never left him before a fight and that’s something that should never go away.
“If you’re not mentally prepared for anything, you’re going to go in there and freeze,” Torres said. “Every single first fight that I had, I was terrified. I was nervous.”
Now, Torres tries to spread the message of the importance of mental health as a mental coach for other fighters. See more from Torres in the video above.
This is all part of a larger message and project from the NBC Sports Regional Networks. Religion of Sports — the media company founded by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Gotham Chopra — has partnered with NBC Sports regional networks for a new one-hour documentary addressing the issue of mental health in sports. “HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports” is executive produced by six-time NFL Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall.
“Mental health issues have been pushed to the forefront of our national conversation,” Ted Griggs, president, Group Leader and Strategic Production & Programming, NBC Sports Regional Networks, added. “Thanks to athletes like Brandon Marshall, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, and executives such as NBA commissioner Adam Silver, we know that our sports heroes face mental health challenges, just like so many others. We hope this project will advance that conversation and show people that resources and assistance are available to everyone.”