BC 133. 8 Benefits Of Being Data Informed #Pillar4

May 10, 2017

In this solo podcast, Brian informs you on #Pillar4 from the 12 Pillars of Peak Performance, Know Your Numbers.  You will discover the 8 Benefits of Being Data Informed and how to apply them to your everyday life.


The 8 Benefits of Being Data Informed...

  • Measurement = Motivation
  • What you measure gets done.
  • Numbers tell the truth and they lack emotion.
  • Chart your course and track your progress.
  • And more...

BC 132. Ray Thoma - Floating To Another Level

May 3, 2017

Former Professional baseball player Ray Thoma sits down with Brian to discuss his motivation for getting into float therapy and why it is for you...


Learn about...

  • Mindfulness and how it effects your performance.
  • Why Ray got into float therapy.
  • The answers to the biggest questions people have about float therapy.
  • And much more...


WATCH this video on Steph Curry and Harrison Barnes and why they float.

READ this article on Tom Brady and why he floats.



BC 131. Raúl Ibañez - The Mental Game of a 19 Year MLB Player

April 26, 2017

In one of the best podcasts of the year, Brian talks with form Major League All-Star Raúl Ibañez on the mental game and how it was an intregal part to his sustained success...


You will learn about:

  • A fascinating story Raúl tells of how he developed his obsession with baseball.
  • His thoughts on the mental game and how it is "everything" to have success.
  • A great story about Mike Trout and what makes him the best player in the game today.
  • How Raúl defines success without baseball.
  • His answer to the Million Dollar Question.


Follow Ibañez on Twitter @RaulIbanezMLB


BC 130. Lonni Alameda, FSU Softball - Growing The Game & Running A Championship Program

April 19, 2017

One of the best college softball coaches in the country, Florida State's Lonni Alameda, sits down with Brian on this episode of the Peak Performance Podcast...



  • The impact that the late, great Harvey Dorfman had on Lonni.
  • Florida State's core values and how they came up with them.
  • The idea of a "One More Board."
  • Coach Alameda's unique answer to The Million Dollar Question.
  • and more...

BC 129. What Is Automobile University?

April 12, 2017

Brian answers the often asked queston, "what is Automobile University?" in this Podcast episode...


He goes in depth on:

  • The book that has been a game changer in his life
  • Valuable podcasts that Brian listens to (besides the Peak Performance Podcast)
  • Tangible action steps to turn your vehicle into Automobile University

BC 128. Ken Ravizza - Why The Mental Game Is So Important

April 5, 2017

Brian takes you back to an interview with his mentor, Dr. Ken Ravizza on the importance of the mental game.


You will learn:

  • Ken's answer to the question, "why is the mental game so important?"
  • An important question to ask your players to understand their mental state
  • How to maintain to confidence when you aren't seeing results
  • The importance of teaching the WHY

BC 127. ABCA CFTC Podcast

March 29, 2017

The script is flipped once again in this podcast as Brian is interviewed by Jeremy Sheetinger of the ABCA's Calls From The Clubhouse Podcast...


You will learn...

  • The tipping point that lead to Brian's journey into the Mental Game.
  • The expensive experience Brian learned while playing college baseball.
  • The 3 P's of Championship Baseball that he learned from George Horton.
  • How to stay prepared for your opportunity to play.
  • The emotions Brian experiences when teams he works with square off with one another.

Subscribe to the Calls From The Clubhouse Podcast

Follow the ABCA on Twitter @ABCA1945


BC 126. Brian Cain On Rutten and Renallo - Cain Talks MMA Mindset WIth The UFC Hall of Famer

March 22, 2017

In this episode, Brian flips the script as he features the episode of the Rutten & Ranallo Podcast he was a guest on.  Brian shares great stories about his life growing up and the moment that changed Georges St. Pierre's life.

Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianCainPeak

Follow Rutten & Ranallo on Twitter @Rutten_Ranallo

Subscribe to Brian's Monday Message here

You will learn about...

  • Brian's background growing up and what he planned to do with his life before becoming a Peak Performance Coach
  • How Georges St. Pierre overcame the worst thing that ever happened to him while working with Brian
  • The Big ABC's and how they lead to him finishing an IronMan
  • The 2 Tips that any person can do to maximize each day



Cain: He gets done about five minutes later and I hand him the brick. I go “Georges I want you to hold this brick out in front of you for like five seconds, can you do that?” He’s like “right here in front of this restaurant in front of all these people you want me to hold the brick?” I said “yeah hold it five seconds.” So he holds it up. I go “put your arm down, now hold it up for like 50 seconds.” He holds it up no problem.

I go “how about five minutes?” He goes “I could do that but I don’t want to hold that up here I’m embarrassed.” I said “well how about you hold that thing for five weeks, what do you think would happen?” He goes “shit that’s impossible.” I go “Georges that’s exactly what you’re doing, Matt Serra beat you five weeks ago and you’ve been carrying this mental brick ever since. You can’t see it but you can feel it and it’s wearing you down.”

Rutten: The person we have as our guest today is a guy who was a standout pitcher at the University of Vermont where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and Exercise Science that later earned a Masters in Applied Sports Psychology and Kinesiology from California State Fullerton.

He is a motivation speaker, a brain repairman or Mental Coach as you guys all call it (I just came up with a funnier name), he is a bestselling author whose specialization is working with different athletes from around the world and in any sport. Yes, even in Mixed Martial Arts. He works with our beloved Georges St. Pierre and he’s just an all around good guy who likes to help people overcome their problems. Boys and girls here we are, Brian Cain.

Brian I know I probably didn’t mention many more thing you have achieve and do like your Iron Man but welcome to the show my friend. How are things over there in Richmond, Vermont if I’m not mistaken?

Cain: Well you are mistaken my friend. I’m actually in Southlake, Texas. I moved out of Vermont when I got tired of the cold. I moved down here to Southlake which is about 15 minutes from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport so that I could travel to the left and right coasts of this great country and be able to get around and spread the message of Peak Performance and help athletes and people to achieve their best.

A little bit hard getting out of the great state of Vermont - I miss that place - but as they say if you want to win you’ve got to focus on what is important now which is being where my feet are here in Southlake, Texas, ready to Dominate the Day and fire it up the B on this podcast with you my friend.

Rutten: Boom. I love it. That’s the same thing with the weather, for me it was. I am from Holland and of course business opportunities, that is why I moved here - California. You can’t beat the weather. That’s the one thing here.

Cain: I actually had a stint in Holland. I coached there for eight weeks in a place called Appledorn. Are you familiar with that?

Rutten: Absolutely not.

Cain: It’s about an hour outside of Amsterdam which I’m sure you’re familiar with.

Rutten: Oh you mean Holland? Oh I thought Apple -  yeah Appledorn of course I know. In Holland. I thought you meant California. But how did you like Holland?

Cain: One of the greatest places on planet Earth. I absolutely loved it. The people were fantastic, the food was off the charts, and man I can’t wait to go back. It was unbelievable.

Rutten: Nice. Alright. Listen let’s start at the beginning. I always want to know what kind of person you were when you were 12 years old in high school. did you want to be a fireman? Police officer? Astronaut? What were you like as a kid?

Cain: Well those are two different questions. As a kid I was kind of a shithead. I wasn’t actually the most honest kid, I wasn’t the greatest kid. I got by probably athletically on talent.

But what did I want to do? I wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. I think here in the States everybody who grows up whether their sport is football, basketball, or baseball, and now even in MMA that is what they want to do. They want to be a professional athlete. So growing up all my eggs were in that basket of being a baseball player.

I got a scholarship (as you mentioned earlier) to go the University of Vermont. I actually got my number retired there recently, Bas, but only got my number retired because they cut the freaking program. There is no more baseball at the university. So me and all my teammates got our numbers retired.

The best part about going to Vermont was experiencing the worst thing that happened to me and to my life at that point. My junior year I had a shoulder surgery. As a pitcher that basically means your career is over. At that time I read the writing on the wall, you’re not going to play pro sports, and I had to take that motivation and drive that I had for baseball and put it into something else.

Luckily for me I’ve had tremendous mentors along the way from my high school football coach to my academic advisor, Declan Connolly, one of the top exercise physiologists in the world at the University of Vermont. He said “Brian I know you’ve got to put that somewhere, how about sports psychology, it’s something that you’re into.”

So that put me on a path out to Cal State Fullerton where I studied under a guy by the name of Ken Ravizza and Ken Ravizza was a professor at Fullerton and he’s actually right now in the dugout with the Chicago Cubs  working with that team. I got to be a grad assistant baseball coach at Cal State Fullerton.

In that year of 2002-2003, that two year period, I learned the system and the process that I teach now in the mental game whether it’s with (as you mentioned earlier) GSP or with top college football programs or other sports to help people to play their best when it means the most and live in that present moment. So that was kind of my path.

I never wanted to get into sports psychology. I wanted to be a baseball player and then a baseball coach. But when I got into it what I realized was what really to me going wasn’t necessarily teaching somebody how to throw a curveball or hit the ball the other way but how to be more consistent and how to handle adversity and how to have more confidence and have better routines so that when they step on the mound or they step in the cage all that training that they go through really comes to fruition and they get to go out there and perform at their best.

Rutten: So it was something that you thought maybe if you look back on it did you think “hey that could have helped me personally as well when I was pitching?”

Cain: Oh there is no question. It’s that age old question - and I’d like to ask you this at some point - what do you know now you wish you knew then? I go around - and the majority of the teams I work with are college baseball teams. It’s just the way it worked. I like working with everybody. My passion is helping people not necessarily baseball players in specific but that just happens to be where my target market is right now. That and probably MMA. With those baseball players I always say man if I could go back and speak to the 18, 17, 22 year old Brian Cain I would say control what you can control, let go of the things that you can’t, and don’t count the days make the days count. Focus on what you need to do today because today + today + today = your career.

Rutten: That’s a big thing with you. You truly want to live in the now. That’s the real power. I hear it from so many different people. They all say you have to live right now in the moment. Like you said to 200 yards. Every time you just add 200 yards. Baby steps.

Cain: It’s like if you’re driving down the road and you’re leaving Los Angeles in complete dark tonight at midnight and you’re driving to Dallas, Texas, and all of a sudden BAM all the lights go out in the country you can still drive to Dallas in the complete darkness because your headlights let you see the next 200 feet. And if you just focus on the next 200 feet eventually you’ll get to where you want to guy.

I’ll use GSP. He’s been vocal and talked about this. When he beat Matt Hughes to win the UFC title he lost his focus a little bit and then went out and lost to Matt Serra in his next fight. What we learned is that the best fighter never wins. It’s the guy who fights the best. That separation is in preparation. If you ask Georges he will tell you that the best thing that ever happened to him in his career was getting knocked out by Matt Serra in the first round at UFC 67 because what that did is that put him on a path to become a master of preparation. That’s where (I think) champions are made. It’s what Muhammad Ali said “there are a lot of hours and a lot of training that goes in to allow me to dance under those lights when everyone sees.”

Rutten: Yeah. Speaking of GSP when did you meet him? Were you already interested in Mixed Martial Arts? Was it a sport that you liked or did he come to you? He contacted you? You contacted him? You saw maybe something about him?

Cain: Well it’s funny. I go all the way back to the first UFCs when Royce Gracie was tapping people out with his gi and there was no gloves and all that. I was probably 10-12 years old. We were at my buddy’s house and there were like 10 of us packed into the basement and he’s got the cable converter, the black box, that allows you to get pay-per-view channels for free because none of us could afford it in a small town. We’re watching the UFC and we’re like “who is this guy.” At a young age I was like wow that is awesome.

As I got into high school and college I lost track a little bit of the UFC and what was going on. Then what really turned me back on to UFC was I was an athletic director and one of our high school football coaches came in and said “dude you’ve got to see this, did you see this fight between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg II?” UFC 52 (I think it was) where he gets the knee in the groin and comes back and Hughes wins the fight. I watched that and said “man that can be so useful to so many teams because of the response to adversity.” We use an acronym that I’m sure you’ll love, Bas. It’s E + R (which stands for event plus response) = outcome.

When I met Georges was fast-forward probably eight years later after seeing that fight for the first time between Hughes and Trigg. I’m teaching a sports psychology class at the University of Vermont. I showed that video. We were talking about response to adversity and one of the ladies in the class goes “I’m a strength coach and I train a UFC fighter.” I’m like we’re in Vermont, you’re lying, there are no UFC fighters in Vermont. It’s too small of a state. She goes “this guy Tom Murphy, he was an All-American wrestler in college and he is on the Ultimate Fighter 2 reality show.” So Tom Murphy and I end up connecting. Tom was a Masters in Psychology and very educated and very driven. Burlington, Vermont is only an hour and a half south of Montreal. So I started working with Tom.

Right at about that time I got connected somehow (I think through MySpace) with David “The Crow” Loiseau. I started going to Montreal with Tom to watch him train. I hooked up with Loiseau and he came back after he lost to Rich Franklin and then Mike Swick and he came back and won a fight outside of the UFC after that so we had some good chemistry going. Right about then is when Georges lost to Matt Serra. I remember we were going up there to go to breakfast and Tom and Loiseau have been saying “man you’ve got to get with Georges” even before he lost.

We went up there to breakfast one day and sat down and I was asking Georges amongst thousands of people coming to get his autograph, always trying to eat his eggs, and we were talking about his loss to Matt Serra. I’m like “hey man how has that affected you since, is that all you’ve been thinking about or are you over it, what’s going on.” He’s like “man it’s the worst thing that ever happened to me for my career I can’t believe that I let this guy who won a reality fight, won a reality TV show, get in the octagon with me, I let down all my fans, I can’t wait to get back there and kick his ass,” all this stuff.

Rutten: Great impression by the way.

Cain: Thank you. As he’s saying all this stuff I took out a black brick. I had taken a brick that you see in a house, painted it black, and I’m writing down on it with a silver Sharpie all the stuff that he is saying. He gets done about five minutes later and I hand him the brick. I go “Georges I want you to hold this brick out in front of you for like five seconds, can you do that?” He’s like “right here in front of this restaurant in front of all these people you want me to hold the brick?” I said “yeah hold it five seconds.” So he holds it up.

I go “put your arm down, now hold it up for like 50 seconds.” He holds it up no problem. I go “how about five minutes?” He goes “I could do that but I don’t want to hold that up here I’m embarrassed.” I said “well how about you hold that thing for five weeks, what do you think would happen?” He goes “shit that’s impossible.” I go “Georges that’s exactly what you’re doing, Matt Serra beat you five weeks ago and you’ve been carrying this mental brick ever since. You can’t see it but you can feel it and it’s wearing you down.”

What you have to do is you have to go from being frustrated to being fascinated. You have to make this not the worst thing to ever happen to you but the best thing that ever happened to you and you have to do that by being like a scientist who is on an airplane. When the airplane crashes they go looking for what? They go looking for the black box to find out why the plane crashed.

As we sat there 90 minutes, two hours later, we’re still talking about why he lost that fight. It went all the way back through some of the things that he has never talked about, just a lot of the things like preparation and focus and some of the things that he had done in other fights. But his goal was to win a World Championship and he did. And he forgot to reset the bar. That day he said “my goal is not to be a UFC Champion but to be the greatest Mixed Martial Arts fighter of all time. Then moving forward from there he just went on a tear and was dominating.

The thing that was awesome about Georges was he was such a great student. He surrounded himself with the right people and he was never defending a title. He was always going to win a title. Everybody talks about Georges being mentally weak - his opponents say that. I can tell you what, that is the furthest thing from the truth. That guy is a learner, that guy is committed to excellence, he is probably the most committed human being and athlete I have ever been around. As you know he is just one of the most genuine and polite/nice guys you’ll ever meet in your life.

Rutten: He started being way more calculated after the Matt Serra fight. That is why a lot of people complained. They say “yeah but he doesn’t stop people anymore before he did that.” I say listen he fights the best guys on the planet. You’re seeing it the wrong way. Once you fight the top guys on the planet all the time, yeah, you try to knock people out. There is a lot of room for mistakes in Mixed Martial Arts. Any little thing can happen. Since there are so many different techniques in all areas one little mistake is all it takes. But his focus is insane.

What I like about him also is that he’s like Oscar de la Hoya. He would come and every fight he has something new that he worked on. With the Koscheck fight I always said he does what he normally does, but then he has a few techniques that he uses like spinning back into the body. He established a jab which just beat the crap out of him with that jab in that fight and he never did that before. After that you will see it back here and there but then there are 2-3 other things that he worked on. Every time he is evolving. That is the great thing about Georges.

Cain: No question. Constantly evolving and surrounding himself with the greatest.

Everybody asks me, I get that question all the time. “Hey you worked with St. Pierre, what does he do?” Whether it’s MMA fighters going “what does he do that I need to be doing” or athletes in every sport wants to know what Georges done because he’s one of the greatest of all time in any sport. The thing I say to them is it’s like when he would go to boxing he’d do it with Olympic boxers in Montreal or he’d go out to LA and work with Freddie Roach (he is one of the greatest). He would train with Olympic wrestlers. He would train with Olympic judokai. He’d go train with Olympic gymnasts. He’d run with Olympic sprinters. Everywhere he went he was on the short end of the stick. He was always on the learning end.

We talk about in life there are winners and learners. A lot of guys’ egos are too big to be able to put them in an environment because they don’t want to lose. He would go in there and he would learn, he would learn, he would learn. When he got in the MMA world and put it all together he became unstoppable.

Rutten: That is what I really enjoy about him. I used to do the same and put myself in the worst position in the ground fighting. That was it with me. I was lying on my back, I let anybody take a position over me, whatever they wanted, then I was going to go for a submission because that is where you have to work on it.

Exactly like you said. People like to do what they are comfortable with to do, what their first choice is. That’s why I don’t like it when you see strikers going great at Mixed Martial Arts knocking people out but once they go to the ground they lose by submission. I go dude you can’t see a pattern here? You can’t say “okay let’s work on the ground game?” Strike and you’re going to win already. Let’s work on the ground game. Let’s become Mixed Martial Arts (because Mixed Martial Arts, that’s what they call it).

Is there a difference? That brick thing, that would catch my attention right away. If you would talk to me like that you would go like “oh okay yeah I know that’s 100% right” but then Georges also has a completely different mindset than others. So every person you have to treat different I assume right? It has to be.

Cain: Yeah. There are some certain principles that apply to any sport and any athletes such as stay in the present moment, control what you can control, think about confidence as a choice and confidence as something that you do with your body language focus and self talk instead of something that you feel or something that you get.

The majority of fighters that I’ve worked with - and I’ve had a privileged to be with six guys that have won the UFC Gold - to see them all in the locker room before a fight they all handle it differently. They’ll all have a little bit of nervous energy, they’ll all have a little bit of self doubt, but what they’ve learned is that they have to fake it until they find it.

What you have to do to be successful in my opinion (and I can only speak from my experience) in this field of Peak Performance and sports psychology is you have to invest time with the athletes, step into their world, and get to know who they are.

That was the beauty about working with Georges is I would buzz up to Montreal on a weekend and I would stay in his house and I would watch him train. I’d be with him in the presence of him for like 10 hours and I might not even talk to him once. I’m just watching and seeing how he interacts with people and listening to how he does interviews and trying to kind of gauge where his mindset is at. Then we’d go grab some sushi or something and I would unload on him and be like “hey man here is what I am hearing you say, is that where your focus really is at or what is going on?”

He was so much of a learner and so much of a student. You have to work with an individual. You’re not working with a damn textbook. I think that is what people who spend all their time in academia who then come in and try to work in Peak Performance or sports psychology with athletes, they come in and they’re trying to do a diagnosis and trying to use some freaking protocol or a textbook instead of getting to know the person and helping the person close the gap from where they are to where they want to be.

Rutten: Is there also a pattern that comes back in any profession? Even public speaking. Are the things that you do with Georges (for instance, because we all know Georges here at Mixed Martial Arts) that you use the same techniques on a guy who is afraid of public speaking and he has to overcome that?

Cain: For sure. Some of which would be mental imagery. I believe everything happens twice. People call it mental imagery or visualization or mental rehearsal but essentially what it is is it’s in your mind playing a highlight video of you going out and performing the way you want to perform because everything happens twice - first in your mind then in reality. Neurons that wire together or neurons that fire together that we use when we’re doing mental imagery are going to wire together so that when you walk out there you’re like “I’ve been here before.”

The other thing we do is we practice body language. I’ve got a split screen video I wish I could show you of Georges walking to the cage against Matt Serra. That’s UFC 67. Maybe it was 69. I don’t remember which one it was when he lost to Serra. Then at 74 when he fought Koscheck the first time. You see a remarkable difference in body language. His head is down. He’s looking side to side in the first one. In the second one you see him just kind of laser focused on the octagon.

Here is one of the coolest things that we did that morning. I’d like to know if you ever did this, Bas. As a UFC fighter - I equate it to baseball players. Imagine going through spring training eight weeks for one at-bat. That is what MMA is. You go through an entire spring training of eight week training camp for one fight. If you don’t practice walking to the octagon and you go down there and try to do it the first time - remind me to tell you a story about Brandon Thatch and his UFC debut - you’re going to shit your pants when you walk down there.

So many guys walk into the cage and the music is blaring and their lights are flashing and the crowd is there and the camera is in your face and if you’ve never done that or practiced that it can be overwhelming. Then you go in there and all of a sudden you’re fighting not to lose instead of just going out there and letting it rip and fighting to win.

What we did at UFC 74 that morning was like 10:00 in the morning we go down to the locker room and take Georges through a quick little mental imagery and visualize yourself having the fight tonight then we practiced walking to the cage. He put his headphones in and listened to his walk out song and he would go down to the cage, get up in the cage, and simulate if he was going to circle left or circle right. We’d basically do everything up until the stare down. Then when Herb Dean or whoever would say “let’s get it on” then at that point just instinct and training takes over. But you can lose the fight before that. You can’t win it before that but you can definitely lose it before that.

So I think that role play and mental imagery and what I would call “mental rehearsal” in the walk through, it’s like a pitcher throwing a bullpen with no ball, a UFC fighter walking to the cage is huge in terms of building their confidence and giving them a routine of something to go to that when they go to do it they’ve done it before.

Rutten: Exactly. I’m a firm believer in that as well. Body language is everything. I say to help the women on the street “walk powerful” not scared/looking around because if there is a bad guy he is going to know if he sees the body language speaking, okay, it’s going to be a fight, they’re going to go to the next victim who is weaker so to say.

Cain: Totally. I mean I have worked with a candidate (woman) in the Miss America pageant and it’s the same thing. When you walk out there you’ve got to walk out there and own that stage and you’ve got to have that edge even though you’re nervous. You’re like the duck whose feet underneath the water are going 100 miles an hour but up above you are calm, cool, and collected. Fake it till you find it.

Rutten: Also a thing is that I call it a poker face in my classes. If I start flinching then you’re telling your brain there is something wrong. Not that there is something wrong but your brain identifies it with something is wrong. If you don’t walk strong you’re kind of telling your brain already “hey you’re not strong.” If you just project and get stronger, first of all it’s great for intimidation, but also for yourself because now you’ve trained your own brain that you’re the man. That’s how you have to walk around. You’re going to have to go to that fight.

I always tell people when they say to me “oh if you were to fight this 300 pound guy who knows this and this” I say “I’ll win.” They go “why would you say that?” “Every fight I should say that.” If I go to a fight and there is a little percent of a chance that I think I might lose this fight that’s going to haunt me. I’m going to get in trouble. That little voice, that 1%, is going to start talking to me. You want to be 100% committed and knowing that you’re going to win. You start there with that with body language.

Cain: No doubt. I talked about confidence is state, so is depression. I’ll talk about confidence as a state of doing BFS - body language, focus, and self talk. How do we train body language? You practice walking big. How do we train focus? I give every athlete signs to put up around their house. Just pieces of paper in the bathroom, on their driver’s steering wheel, and their bedroom, and when they see it they have to tell themselves that. Something like “act differently than how you feel” or “confidence is a choice” or “trust your training,” these different little triggers and mindsets I want them to have that direct the focus.

The other thing I would do a lot, Bas (and Rich Franklin used to use this a lot when he was fighting), was I would take like a - if he says “hey I’m going to do 20 minutes of roadwork four days a week where I’m just going to go out and run” I would make a 20 minute audio over music that he likes with positive suggestions of things that I wanted him to be reminded of. Things like when you’re carrying yourself always walk with big body language (like we’re talking about). Or know that confidence is a choice. Or know that your focus determines your future so focus on what you want versus what you want to avoid and on the things that you can control. So it was all those little things.

Then there would be a lot of technical MMA things that he would tell me that I would say as well over that besides just the mental game stuff. It was kind of like that constant repetition that he would hear when he was running. Georges would listen to it when he was driving or flying all over the country training in New York or Albuquerque or Montreal wherever it was. That is kind of that consistent training of the self talk but also the focus.

Rutten: And you talked about Rich Franklin and you had six more fighters you said. All these fighters do you train - because this is a question I always get crazy from. With me everything is calmness. Calmness is the key to success is tell everybody. If you had for instance one of those six guys (and we don’t need to know names because some of them of course want to stay incognito so to say) is there a way for these guys if they need to really get angry for a fight that you keep that or able to able to flip that and let them see that once they’re calm and relaxed it’s way more effective and they become way more effective?

Cain: Yeah I would agree with the statement that the more calm and relaxed you are - I say the more in control you are. In control is closer probably to the common relaxed than it is to the fired up and jacked up ready to go fucking murder somebody. That is what drunk fans think that you need to get into that type of state to compete. When you talk to Dan Severn and Dan would talk about how he would be asleep in the locker room or Couture in a similar type of state where it would be really chill and relaxed and visualize - and those are some of the best.

So one of the things that I’ve done is in interviews with some of those guys the UFC champions and top ranked fighters like yourself - which is awesome that I hear you say this, you’re a former UFC Champion yourself - is to then take that and go share what you’re saying with some of the young fighters and go “look man success leaves clues, look at what the best guys have done.” Every guy is not that way. There are some others guys that want to fight more out of hatred. But sometimes that’s hard to get into. Sometimes you can’t get yourself there.

My statement to them always, Bas, is you’ve got to be in control of yourself before you can control your performance and you’re going out there and your toughest opponent is yourself. Your goal is go out, fight your fight, perform at your best whether you’re fighting your number one enemy or you’re fighting a guy who is in a black ninja spirit suit and you can’t tell who it is. You’re out there fighting your fight and let everything else take care of itself. Strip away the emotion because emotion hurts you more than it helps you in a fight.

Rutten: 100% I love it. I need to know before I forget this question. The first guy you treated ever, once you did this as a job, was it sports? Was he a lawyer? What kind of person was that? I just want to know that.

Cain: I would call it coaching more than - I would never refer to it as “treating.” I call it coaching. You’ve got a strength coach, you’ve got a striking coach, you’ve got a strength and conditioning coach, you’ve got a Muay Thai coach, well who is your mental coach? As you know (as Georges would say) training for a fight is 90% physical 10% mental. Once the plane lands in Vegas it becomes 90% mental 10% physical. Who is helping you with that mental side of the game?

The first guy I worked with. Let me think about that. It’s been so long, since like 2003. I would say I think it was the UC Irvine baseball team maybe back in like 2004 and their head coach Dave Serrano. They went to the College World Series in 2007. He is now out at the University of Tennessee. The first guy in MMA was David Loiseau I believe.

Rutten: Okay. Yeah David is a great guy.

Cain: Phenomenal.

Rutten: And you’re an author as well. I go on your website. How many books did you do? Like 14-15? And really well books. You’re roofing all the top charts.

Cain: Yeah I lost count I think around 33. I think we’re somewhere between 36 and 40. It’s funny because I always wanted to write a book. When my mother passed away on August 2, 2010 I said “man I kind of let mom down, she didn’t get a chance to read my first book.” I remember I got the phone call at 4:00 AM. She had passed away. I couldn’t go back to sleep obviously so I rolled out, I took out my laptop, and I wrote the dedication to her.

Then I got a phone call two days later. You talk about a sense of urgency. I got a phone call two days later from the National Softball Coaches Convention and they said “hey Brian would you be our keynote speaker” and I said “I’d love to is there any chance we could do a book signing after.” They go “oh we didn’t know you had a book.” I go “I will by then.”

So I gave myself two months to write the book, one month to get it printed. Had the book there, sold it, it became a number one bestseller. It’s called Toilets, Bricks, Fish Hooks and Pride: The Peak Performance Toolbox Exposed. I’ll give you a dollar if you can spit that one back.

Rutten: Wow.

Cain: It’s like anything else. It’s like once you write the first one it becomes addicting and you just keep going because people give you great feedback. You have a positive impact on the lives of others and that has always been my mission is to educate, empower, and energize others to a lifestyle of excellence and fulfillment. Books are a way to do that. Podcasts are a way to do that. I’m just trying to execute my mission today so thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Rutten: Yeah. I do exactly the same thing. For me it stems from my asthma disease and just going to the restroom that would be a nightmare for me but now also. And I do baby steps. Now I have programs. I say I’m going to be kicking a head one and a half minutes with 30 seconds break. There is no way I can do this right now. But I start with baby steps. I start one minute, one minute rest. One minute, one minute rest. I do this for 15 runs (so half an hour) then I go to one minute and five seconds and I take a 55 second break. Slowly but surely I go to that one minute. Now I told myself I’m going to do it and I said I’ll give it three months.

Once you do that - what you said, you commit yourself. You say “you know what I want to do a book signing.” They go “do you have a book?” “No I don’t.” But at that time you’ll have it because now you’ve committed to it. I think that is a really important habit to have as any person, any profession for that matter.

Cain: No question. I like to try and share as many nuggets with your listeners as I can. One of them is called the Big ABCs. The Big ABCs are act big, breathe big, and commit big. Act big - we’ve talked a lot about body language here already. Breathe big - when you bring oxygen into your system it helps you to slow down and get back in control. Commit big - set big goals. That’s why I signed up to do the Iron Man, Bas. Six or seven weeks ago I didn’t own a bike, I didn’t know how to swim, I had to get a swimming lesson, I had to go buy a bike.

Rutten: So when did you start the swimming?

Cain: I started swimming August 1st which is when I had my first lesson in swimming. I wasn’t getting drowned. I would get in the pool but I wouldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t breathe with my head in the water. I just was kind of there. Then I got a coach.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned through this Iron Man training one of which is surround yourself with the right people and get a coach. What does every MMA fighter have? A coach. What does every Olympic athlete that was in Rio have? A coach. So I went and got a swimming coach, I went and got a bike coach (it happens to be the same guy), then I got a nutrition coach. It’s the best thing I think I’ve done for myself in a long time. I’m in the best shape of my life. The more energy I get.

I worked out for six hours today already. It was a 90 minute swim, 3 hour bike, and then a 90 minute run, so that, and then when we get done tonight I’ve got to go get another 90 minute swim in because I missed it yesterday. It’s a lot. It’s been a lot. My wife has been phenomenal in terms of support. She gets it. She was a hockey player. But it’s setting a big goal that scares the hell out of you and going to get it.

Rutten: It’s crazy. Three months. That’s pretty much three months you gave yourself to swim well and swim for 90 minutes. That’s kind of insane if you really think about it.

Cain: And bike for 112 miles which is the biggest challenge.

Rutten: Oh just 112?

Cain: And go run a marathon which I have done marathons before so it’s - but to put them all together in a row is going to be a fun challenge so I’m looking forward to it.

Rutten: Okay. So now you’re talking about that and physical activity yourself as well. Food - this is also not only important for the body but very important for the brain. Of course we hear about sardines, berries, walnuts, all these things are really good for the mental health, is that something you focus on with the fighters or with any athlete for that matter?

Cain: Most of the fighters I’ve worked with have whether they’re working with Dolce or working with someone in the field of nutrition, so when they are I don’t like to cross pollinate. I let them do their job and I try to do mine. When I’m working with a fighter who maybe is a guy who is just kind of getting going and doesn’t have access to a nutritionalist I’ll work with them on a program. Often these guys have come from wrestling so they know their bodies really well and weight management and all that.

But the thing that I lean on is macro nutrition. I was 240 pounds five years ago with a 44 inch freaking waist and a slob. Someone said to me “Brian if you want to be a Peak Performance coach you’ve got to live it, leaders are not fat.” I said “fuck that’s straight on man, you’ve got it.” So I started getting it going again. I started working out again. I started eating right. I was single. My meal was a large pizza and a six pack of beer. So I turned that around. Right now I’m getting 225 grams of protein, 180 grams of carbs, and 48 grams of fat, then on top of that I’ll fuel myself with a little bit of food based on each hour. I’m trying to get into a fat cutting program and trying to get down to 180. I was 183.5 this morning so it’s working.

The article I go by (if people want to find it) is if they Google “to build a beast” by Jordan Feigenbaum. It gives a chart in there where they can calculate their macro nutrition. All macro nutrition is is understanding your fat, carb, and protein. Anything more than that and it’s going to become too difficult. I basically make myself a menu. I eat the same thing every day at the same time. I eliminate the guesswork and I save time, I save money from doing it that way, and I feel fantastic.

Rutten: Thinking about your own training there is this method that you use adding the word “yet” to it. I cannot be a champion yet. I cannot throw a 90 mile per hour fastball yet. Did you say to yourself I cannot swim 90 minutes yet? Did you use those kinds of tricks on your own brain as well?

Cain: I don’t call it “tricks” I call it “conditioning.” It’s like anything else. You don’t rise to the occasion you sink to your levels of training and habits. Habitually I have intentionally trained myself to when adversity happens think that it’s good, that adversity is to my advantage, to when I can’t do something to say “yet” because anything is possible it just hasn’t happened yet. I think that is the mentality to have. But that mentality needs to be trained. It’s like anything else. It’s not tricks. I know you introduced me -

Rutten: It’s like tricking the brain. It’s what I do myself all the time.

Cain: It’s conditioning and it’s in a game with yourself. You introduced me as a motivational speaker which kind of drives me nuts because it’s not - I don’t think motivational speaking works. I think what it is is it’s conditioning. There is a three step process to maximum growth and here is how the three step process would go for people who want to make a change in their life.

Number one is have a total immersion learning experience. Go to a seminar. Go to a training camp. Find a coach. After the total immersion learning experience - we’ve all been to these seminars. You run seminars. I run seminars. People come and then a year later we get with them like “what are you doing?” “Well I kind of fell off.” Well the reason why they fall off is they don’t do step number two which is spaced repetition.

You have to do a little a lot. They go to a seminar then they have to do a little a lot whether it’s read a chapter a week, whether it’s watch my Monday Message video that they can sign up and enjoy and get the same Monday Message video that I send to Georges St. Pierre, the same Monday Message video that goes to all the athletes I work with at www.BrianCain.com/Monday. Or listen to a podcast once a week. That is spaced repetition.

Then they’ve got to have an accountability partner and a plan to continue to grow. They can’t just get the learning experience. They need to have the spaced repetition after and the plan to grow.

Rutten: Wow. It’s like almost what Bruce Lee said, “I’m not afraid of the guy who knows 1000 kicks I’m afraid of the guy who knows one kick but practices it 1000 times.”

Cain: Amen.

Rutten: You just said it but what would be one thing that you say okay this is for any person? Would that be living in the moment? Would that be the best thing that any person can do?

Cain: I would say it would be two things. It would be control what you can control - let go of the things you can’t control, focus on what you can. The second one would be exactly what you said. I would word it as don’t count the days, make the days count. It’s amazing what you can get done in one day when you have a focus. It’s amazing what you can get done in one day when you map out every minute of your day from the time you wake up until you go to bed. I call it your 168 hour a week plan.

There are 168 hours in a week. Show me when you’re going to wake up, when you’re going to go to bed every day, and what you’re going to do in between and you’re going to have a hell of a week. A hell of a week leads to a hell of a month which leads to a hell of a year which leads to a hell of a career.

Rutten: Nice. And the speaking of hell and you said week, I just want to say - because that 200 yard line thing from you is going to come back. I joined the Special Forces, the Navy SEALS, all these guys, and I asked them about the Hell Week. I said “what goes on in your mind, do you just decide to make it to the next day?” He said “no it’s the next meal.” You just focus on the next meal. You say “before this next meal is going to come I’m not going to quit.” So they’re using it everywhere.

Cain: I spent a lot of time researching in the Special Forces and the SEALS and you’re absolutely right. They just say the next evolution. What am I trying to do right now? I’m trying to run up this sand hill. What am I trying to do right now? I’m trying to run down this sand hill. I’m not thinking about the whole mountain of get through Hell Week and I’m not thinking about winning a UFC world title. That’s exactly what happened to Georges when he lost to Serra. He was like “man I can’t wait to get back and win my title.” I go “Georges your next fight is not a title fight, you’re not going to win the title in your next fight so focusing on the title right now is only hurting you.”

Rutten: Nice. I love it. Don’t look past the fight that you have coming up. That’s what I say. Actually I hear Georges St. Pierre saying it as well in interviews. They say “oh if you win this you are going to be set up for a title” and the first thing he says is “no we’re focusing on this fight right now.” I’m pretty sure he said it because he’s working with you.

Brian, I enjoyed it very much my friend. We’ve got to call it quits. We cannot go too long on this one. We would love to have you back. I would love to have you back one time with Renallo even here because he is the master at digging into the mind and asking questions. Plus you would be very interested to dig in is crazy mind because he is something. I already told you in an email.

Cain: I might be afraid of what I find but I would be fired up to do that.

Rutten: Everybody, I see it every week. It’s a very scary thing.

Cain: That’s awesome.

Rutten: Alright my friend. Thank you so much. Very informative. I hope a lot of fighters are going to listen to this because it’s all in the mind. I’m telling you, everybody. People say oh it’s 50% physical 50% mental. I say it’s all 100% in the mind. In order to make the decision to go to your gym that already happens in your mind. To get out of bed happens in the mind. It’s all the mind because that controls the body. I hope you say the same.

Cain: No question. I say mind control leads to body control leads to skill control. If you want to execute inside of the octagon with your skills you’ve got to take care of your body but in order to take care of your body you’ve first got to get your mind in the right place. If anyone is looking to help get their mind right send them over to www.BrianCain.com and have them join other great MMA fighters and the world champions with the Monday Message that they can join right there. They can contact me through the website.

I have a lot of respect for Mixed Martial Artists. I think what they do is for me the most pure sport that there is. I love working with MMA fighters of all levels because it’s such an amazing sport that I’ve never had a chance to do and I’m not sure I could do. But I love working with those guys because of the effort that it takes and the life lessons that are there and what they can get out of that. It’s awesome.

Rutten: People at home should really check out everything you do. I was going over the videos and I actually gave that video to my daughter - the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 breathing technique. I said “this is going to help you a lot” because she is one of those people who shoots right away into a wrong decision. I said “just calm down and listen to this” and she said “wow that sounds really good.” And that was just one video and there is a lot of them out there.

Cain: What sport does she play?

Rutten: None. She doesn’t do any sports. Right now they started softball actually with a bunch of friends. They are doing it among two teams but they are all friends doing it so not under a guide or a coach.

Cain: Fantastic. Well I’ll drop something in the mail for you also so you can get a little bit more of the mental game. I think you’ll like it.

Rutten: I would love that. Thank you so much my friend.


BC 125. Bas Rutten - UFC Hall of Fame & World Champion

March 15, 2017

In this episode, Brian talks with former UFC World Champion and Hall of Famer Bas Rutten.  Bas has great knowledge of the mind from a fighter's point of view and shares many applicable traits that translate from fighting to life.

Follow Bas on Twitter @BasRuttenMMA

Visit Bas' Website BasRutten.com

Listen to the Rutten & Ranallo Podcast

You will learn about...

  • The #1 factor to be successful in a fight
  • The importance of thinking you are not as good as you really are
  • Tricking your brain into enjoying something you normally hate
  • The #1 trait that all the best fighters have in common
  • Bas' answer to "The Million Dollar Question"



Rutten: So then I started tricking my brain. Constantly every time when I was really tired I’d go “oh yeah I love it!” I love it. I would tell myself the whole time “I love it” and, boom, suddenly I started catching on. Then I started enjoying getting tired. Now I needed to get tired. It got me a high getting really extremely tired. So I just forced myself. I always tell people I’m really good at telling myself what to do. Apparently I believe myself as well because it works, it works all the time.

Cain: Hey how are you doing? Brian Cain your Peak Performance Coach here and this week we’re honored to have as our guest on the Peak Performance Podcast an MMA legend, UFC World Champion, and UFC Hall of Famer, Bas Rutten.

Bas is a retired Dutch MMA fighter, a taekwondo black belt, Muay Thai kick boxer, and former professional wrestler. He was a UFC Heavyweight Champion and a three time King of Pancrase World Champion and finished his career with an unthinkable 22 fight unbeaten streak. Fight Metrics, the official statistics provider for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, ran numbers on Rutten’s career. Check this out; they statistically proved that he belongs not only in the UFC Hall of Fame but near or on top of the list of the greatest fighters of all time.

In the 4 hours 27 minutes and 8 seconds he spent as a professional fighter Rutten scored 13 knockdowns without getting dropped himself. His significant strike accuracy was 70.6, the highest fight metric ever recorded. He attempted a record 53 submissions and successfully swept his opponents a record 46 times.

He is currently a co-host of Inside MMA and is known for his charisma, good looks, great dance moves, and devastating liver kicks. He has capitalized on his celebrity status since retiring from fighting in 1999, working as an MMA commentator and appearing in numerous television shows, movies, and video games. A living legend.


Please welcome to the Peak Performance fighting out of Tilburg, Netherlands, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, former three time King of Pancrase, and UFC Hall of Famer, Bas “El Guapo” Rutten. Bas, thanks for joining us on the podcast man.

Rutten: That was crazy! I love those statistics. You know that was the first time I actually found out things about myself when I heard those statistics. I went “man that’s actually pretty cool.” Very nice. Thank you very much Mr. Buffer.

Cain: Fantastic. Well Bas thanks for joining us here. For all of our listeners that are mostly coaches and athletes they all watch the UFC, they all watch Mixed Martial Arts fighting, and they all want to know how much of that is a mindset, how much  of that is a mental game? What do you think?

Rutten: It’s all about the mind. Everything is created in the mind. I always tell the fighters we’re just talking about it everyone says “oh it’s a 50/50, 50% physical, 50% mental.” I say it’s not. I say everything happens in the mind. The decision for you to get out of bed in the morning to get your breakfast is made up in the mind. Once you can control that then it’s going to be perfect because then you can be calm.

I talk about this many times. Calmness beats everything. When I see fighters getting beat up by the coaches and they’re hitting themselves in the faces I think it’s maybe for them to realize that they’re in the moment at this moment but it doesn’t work for me. You start over committing to punches. The mind is the master in everything in life. That is what I always say.

Cain: When did you learn that? Si that something you had a coach ingrain in you or did you always kind of have that sort of ice in your veins cool mentality?

Rutten: That is the weirdest thing. I was a super aggressive fighter in Holland when I was Thai boxing. Literally I would come out very technical, I would play my game, I would get hit once and I would destroy the guy. It worked really well in the first 12 fights because I knocked them out all in the first round except for one. So that worked really well. But once you start fighting really tough competition that’s going to be a problem.

Then at one time - it was I also had a reason. I was partying, I didn’t train for three years, and apparently I accepted a fight because I was drunk and didn’t know I accepted it. Two and a half weeks before the fight this promoter calls me “hey where do I send the posters to?” I said “what do you mean, what posters?” He said “from the fight.” I said “which fight.” He says “your fight.” I said “am I fighting?” So then we went over that and I realized oh yeah I kind of said that so I’m going to have to do this fight. When is the fight? In two and a half weeks. I shouldn’t have done that fight.

Anyway I lost. That pretty much changed everything. I didn’t want to fight in Holland anymore because the throwback I had from one loss was insane. Everybody said suddenly I was the worst fighter. They forgot about the first 12 fights.

Then when Mixed Martial Arts came along I started fighting in Japan. I think it’s maybe something with the audience. It was totally calm. While I was fighting I would realize this is the craziest thing ever, I was so focused I heard everybody talking.

There is this moment where I drop him with an eight count, he goes down, and your inner body wants to say run to the corner because there in Japan there were eight counts. If you run to your corner as soon as you hit the corner that is when they start counting eight. So eight counts. That means every fighter most of the time they run to their corner in order to give the guy on the floor the least amount of time to recoup. But for some reason I was thinking “no I’m going to throw it the other way” so I stepped over him, I gave him this look, I made eye contact, and then I walked really slowly back to my corner. I thought that will intimidate this guy way more than when I run to the corner.

When I came out of the fight - which I stopped in 43 seconds - and later on saw the magazines two months later they sent me the magazines from the fight and I saw my facial expressions and I had no facial expressions. Every Thai boxing match that I had in the past I look like a complete animal. My face is screaming when I knock people out. Then there suddenly in Japan it was total calmness. There was no facial expression.

That is why I always come up with that name the poker face. I truly believe that was when I really started putting things together. I was in complete control. It was really weird.

Cain: Fighters that you’ve trained and fighters that you work with how do you get them to learn that? how do you get them to understand that you’ve got to be in control of yourself because you can control your performance and then learn how to control themselves?

Rutten: It’s a hard thing. Again the poker face comes. There are a lot of times where if they hit back and they have to go really hard on the back they’re not allowed to make grimaces in their faces. It needs to stay calm. Everything needs to be calm. You need to tell your brain that you’re okay. Once you start squeezing your face muscles you’re telling your brain it’s not okay. But the more calm you are, the more relaxed you are, the faster your reflexes are working for you.

The things is - and you especially know this with mental coaching as well of course - that a fighter can be really good in the gym. I can tell him all the tricks and everything works perfectly in the gym and sometimes you think “oh man this guy is going to go far.” But then the first fight comes along. The first fight is very understandable. Everybody has that. But once you go to the second and third fight and you cannot control those emotions then it’s going to be very hard for a fighter to fight out later on.

What I’m saying is that you see these guys who you think they’re going to be world champions but they can’t perform under pressure. What I do then to the fighter - because most of the time they’re so proud that they’re going to fight they tell everybody they’re going to fight. “This is my first fight, I’m going to rip his head, I’m going to do this and that.” I always tell them don’t say that. All of these words you’re going to have to eat up at the moment you’re going to walk into the cage. Now all these people that you’re talking to they’re going to be in the audience there. Guess what? Now you can’t lose because you said you were going to hit his head up, you’re going to do this, you’re going to do that. I said all that pressure you are going to carry to the cage. Most of the time that is exactly what happens and then they lose.

So then I tell them okay the next fight you won’t tell anybody that you’re going to fight and we’re going to take a fight out of state where nobody knows you. if you win when you come back you can say “hey I just won a fight.” IF you lose you don’t even have to tell anybody. Most of the time that trick works really well because then there is no pressure. People don’t fight for themselves. People fight for the audience.

My biggest trick, what I always said is that I fight for me. It sounds very egomaniacal but it’s not because - they say “but you have to fight for your family because they need money.” No. Once I start being bothered by those kinds of problems I don’t perform at my best. But once I fight for myself and I don’t care what people say - because I learned that in all the Thai boxing, I stepped away from it - then that’s it. Then you’re much calmer and then you can compete at your very best.

Cain: I think that is such a great point too that you make that you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to fight for yourself because you are the only one who is in there. I hear fighters a lot of times will say that “my toughest opponent is me and my focus is on there, going out there, and executing what I need to execute in my game plan.”

When you would fight did you have a game plan that you went out there to try to implement specifically for your opponent or was your game plan kind of the “I’m going to become the best Mixed Martial Artist I can be and go out there and just trust my training and let it happen?”

Rutten: Trust my training, especially when I started learning the ground game. I had this thing - and I still do it. I always think that I’m not as good as I really am. I think it’s a very important thing because I think people in general always think they’re way better than they are. For me that was a way of always pushing the limits, always going harder and harder.

I think it's very important to train your brain like that and make sure you know everything. Once I start doing the ground then everything started coming together and I got obsessed with the ground fighting. That is when I really started getting confident and that is where the real me was born.

I always say it’s not about that, it’s about loving something. For instance in school what were the subjects you sucked at? They were always subjects that you had no interest for. All the ones that you excelled in were the ones that you thought were fun to do. It’s the same as fighting. If you’re only doing striking because you feel great at striking but you neglected the ground fighting - what I did in the beginning, I didn’t really like the ground fighting - but then I have all these ways to force myself. I start tricking my brain (so to say) and I say “wait a minute I’m going to see if I can force myself to like it.”

For instance I did this with getting tired. I did not like getting tired. Since I had severe asthma as a kid that’s probably where it comes from. But in fighting that is not a good thing. you’re going to get really tired. So then I started tricking my brain. Constantly every time when I was really tired I’d go “oh yeah I love it!” I love it. I would tell myself the whole time “I love it” and, boom, suddenly I started catching on. Then I started enjoying getting tired. Now I needed to get tired. It got me a high getting really extremely tired. So I just forced myself. I always tell people I’m really good at telling myself what to do. Apparently I believe myself as well because it works, it works all the time.

Cain: Are there ways that you actually train that self talk? Are there things that you do to help you with that or is that something that you just kind of figured out over the course of your career?

Rutten: It’s been always there. I think it all comes from - with the asthma attacks for instance. I would lay in bed just sitting up. I needed to recoup from that. For like a minute I needed to catch my breath. That is how bad my asthma was. I couldn’t eat. It was very hard for me to drink. Most of the time you dip a sponge in water and you hope that you can get it in because you’re breathing 24/7. But I was always telling my mind “listen this is just for a week or for eight days, there are people out there that have it all year long.” I had eczema (horrible skin disease) everywhere on my face, my hands, I had to wear gloves, I got bullied a lot because of it because they thought I was a leper. That’s what they called me. I always thought people have it worse. There are people who have it worse.

I think my brain training started there. I told myself “no, don’t go down.” Some people who say I had asthma when I was a kid and that’s why it doesn’t go very well for me in life, that’s BS. You’ve got to step away from it. The glass has always been half full with me and I’ve been always that guy. It’s just tricking the brain. Maybe it’s not even tricking. You just talk to yourself and if you just lay it out then it’s not really that bad.

If you really go over a fight - this is what I tell my students. I say “what is the worst thing that can happen?” “I’m going to get knocked out.” “Well apparently you’re not going to feel that.” That is what people say. So what is the next thing? Tapping? Is that really so bad? If you let your arm be broken that is a really bad thing but for the rest that’s it. you can lose these two ways. You know what really is bad? When somebody completely dominates you. he knocks you down, he steps back, he tells you get back up because he just wants to beat you up. That would be really bad. But with great matchmaking that will never happen. most of the time that little talk will do something to them and that little talk I just had to myself before a fight. In the beginning when you’re nervous I would just say “what is the worst thing that could happen, there is a referee.”

That is why I didn’t want to fight in the first UFC because the referee couldn’t step in. People go “oh I think it’s cool, I think it’s tough when you do that.” I think it’s stupid when you do that. we saw many occasions somebody gets knocked out and when he’s out he’s getting drilled in the face 6-7 more times. Well that could be permanent and I have a family that I love very much. I’m not one of those guys who says “I’ll die in the cage.” Not me dude. I would like to be with my family. If there is a way I can get out of it I’m going to be out of it. It’s going to be tough because I’m not going to let you finish me. But that I thought was very dangerous. Once they had a referee what is the worst thing that can happen? The referees are going to jump in and that’s about it.

It’s your ego. Once you can step away from your ego - and again this is people outside, this is your family, friends, everybody who knows it better but has never been in a gym they’re complaining about you. Once you realize that those people don’t know anything, they don’t know, they never did it, so why would you be bothered by what they’re saying? When you let that go that is freedom.

Cain: I love that. that is fantastic. Bas, talk a little bit about the maturity of the athlete and learning to just simply control what you can control and let go of what you can’t.

Rutten: It’s just getting better all the time. I always mention Oscar de la Hoya, Georges St. Pierre, there’s all these bunch of fighters that always learn new things. Evolving. It’s all about that. They all know it. They all say it in interviews - other guys - but they don’t do it. That I don’t like.

You have a guy - oh hit him in the belly because if you hit that guy he went five times down with a liver shot so chance are you can drop him with a liver shot again. Can you imagine if you would be that person that they’re talking about? If somebody says “oh if you fight Bas Rutten hit him in the liver and he is going to go down?” I would make sure 100% that you could never hit me in the liver. But for some reason that person every time they can drop him to his liver. This is a real person as well.

I go work on your weaknesses. It’s so in your face but people don’t do it. Once you do it, truly do what you’re preaching - well everybody can be good. I’m just a guy like anybody else. It’s just hard work and dedication.

Cain: You run a podcast that is one of the best out there. On your podcast you’ve had guests like UFC fighter and champion Dan Severn. You’ve had Royce Gracie on there. You’ve had WWE Ike on and creator of the yes chant Daniel Bryan. You’ve interviewed Dan Henderson who just had a great fight with Michael Bisping. What are some of the things that you have learned that have stuck with you from interviewing some of these icons in the world of Mixed Martial Arts and wrestling?

Rutten: We all have the same mindset. Especially if you talk to the good guys. If you talk to beginner fighters they will have completely different answers than once they start maturing as well. They realize that talking can put a lot of pressure on you. If you talk like that to Dan Severn, Dan Henderson, all these guys, Frank Shamrock - Frank is a good friend of us as well - they’re all calm, they’re all relaxed. It’s simply just looking at other people. I’ve been doing that my entire life.

In an interview if you hear somebody - any artist. It doesn’t matter what artist we’re talking about. It can be a musician, an actor, whatever. They always say “don’t give up.” They all say that. There is always that moment of I wanted to quit but then I pushed a little further and, boom, suddenly there was the success. Once you start listening you realize that hundreds of great stars are saying all the same thing - don’t give up. So you put it in your mind - don’t give up. If you talk to a Dan Henderson, yeah, that’s calmness. Dan Severn, calm. You already touched Renico too. We didn’t have him on our show. But also everything is about calmness.

Automatically if you go - I did it a long time back but I’m pretty sure that every other athlete that is coming up right now (Mixed Martial Artist) they should listen to that because they all pick out that similarity thing which is being calm and just pushing. We’re nothing special. Just put a lot of hard work in. That’s the trick.

Cain: Bas I always like to ask my guests what is the book that you would gift the most to other people? Or what are the books that have had the biggest impact in your life?

Rutten: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I really took that to heart. And another book is The Greatest Salesman In the World, I really like that as well. It takes ten months to read for the fact that every chapter (and there are ten chapters) you are going to have to read three times a day. It takes about five minutes to read. You have to do it when you wake up, and then you have to do it during the day, then before you go to sleep. Matthew McConaughey was in The Actor’s Studio and he was talking about that book and I go “hey I would love to have that book.” These are all things that I already did. But what you’re doing is you’re just training your brain because once you read it three times a day, in like 12-13 days you’ve memorized it. You can literally just say it without the book. Then you’re telling yourself. It always helps to revisit moments, things that you already knew but you forgot.

It’s like when I teach seminars I tell people “bring a notepad because I’m going to be here, I’m going to give you your money’s worth, if I really want to teach you’re going to get five techniques in the next five hours and you guys are not going to like it so let’s write down what we’re doing, let’s give you 30 techniques so you’re going to get your money’s worth.” But if you don’t have a notepad you’re going to forge the first ten techniques. You’re going to forget because it’s going to be an overload.

That’s what it is with this book. You know it. but once you read it you go “oh man yeah I used to do that but why don’t I do this anymore?” You’re training your brain. So those two books I always tell people to get them.

Cain: Fantastic. Both of them are in my collection for sure and I would echo the same message. Both fantastic books. Bas, I also like to ask our guests what are some of the habits that you have in your life or maybe you had when you were still fighting, what are some of the habits that have helped you to be the best in the world?

Rutten: Everything with me is about habits. I think that habits are the most important thing there is. It’s creating good habits.

I have this speech that I do for these kids when they go from high school. I talk to these kids from high school to college and it’s like 500-600 kids that I’m talking to. I open with this one. I say “by show of hands who woke up this morning, hit the snooze button, then ten minutes later hit it again, then ten minutes later hit it again, then maybe after the third or fourth time you get up” and, boom, 90% of the hands went up. I said “that is a bad habit and you can change that habit, in a week it will be gone.” Before you go to sleep now tonight you’re going to tell yourself “tomorrow when I hit the alarm button I’m going to sit up in bed and I’m going to walk out.” The first time is a little hard. The second day it’s easier. The third day is a lot easier, and in seven days you’ve created a new habit.

The great thing is you can do this with anything in life. It’s just switching bad habits into great habits. That’s what I did my whole life. I just find my routine. Like my stretching routine. Many people always ask “what is it because you’re always talking about this.” My stretching routine has always been the same from the first day I started competing professionally till now I do the same thing. They say “why, you have to do all these others stretches.” I say “this stretching routine (it’s a short one, it’s a ten minute stretch) never gave me any injuries, why would I change a winning thing?” That is what I do with everything. I’m always pushing the habits.

I tell myself tonight or today, this morning, I’m going to do twelve rounds on the back as hard as I can; Because I trained my brain to do whatever I tell myself to do I have to do it. I’m so bad that if I would not do it, if I would stop at eleven, I can literally not look at myself in the mirror that night because I am ashamed of myself. That is how much I have trained myself to do what I tell me to do. Being on time. Those are things that everybody should do. Why would you be late? I’m on time for you. You be there on time for me. That is why they invented time by the way. It’s things like that.

Once you do that for a week - I have guys from Brazil who never did that but (trust me) a week or two weeks with me - Marco Ruas, he showed up every single time on time. This is very hard for a guy who had been 40 years living in Brazil and who don’t do that because it’s just not in their culture. They don’t do it. But once you do it - once I am training at 3:00 and he comes in at 3:45 and I’m almost out now, I’m almost done with my workout. “Yeah but I just arrived here.” Yeah, I said 3:00. Now on the second day suddenly they are there at 3:00 because otherwise they’re not going to have a workout. That is the way I do it.

To me they say “Bas I’ll be there at 11:00 but wait 5-10 minutes.” No, you said you were going to be there at 11:00. I’ll be there at 11:00 and you be there at 11:00 and if you’re not I’m leaving. “Yeah but can you wait till I’m there?” No, you be there at 11:00. Those things you can train with everything in life. I truly believe if you do that with your training methods you just become a great guy in whatever sport you do.

Cain: You talked about the importance of being on time, the importance of hitting your alarm clock, getting your feet on the ground, going out and attacking the day, you talked about the importance of habits. What are some of the other fundamentals that have helped you to be so successful? What are some of the other fundamentals that you’ve seen that if our listeners would apply in their life (maybe it’s journaling, maybe it’s having a coach, any of those things that you’ve seen) that would help them to close the gap from where they are to where they want to be?

Rutten: With me it’s really weird. I taught everything myself. I taught the ground fighting myself. I had a coach in Holland and Amsterdam but I went there twelve times in my entire life.

It was just watching things. Don’t be afraid of seeing something and thinking “that’s it.” Just because somebody does it or somebody writes it that doesn’t mean it’s true. “I read on the internet” yeah, okay, never mind. I need some proof. That is what I’m doing. What I did with ground fighting for instance is I would simply see at technique and then I would say to a friend of mine “do it on me, I can do this and I can escape.” Then okay “how can I prevent this?” Then I start working with it. I think that is the most important thing.

Now the good thing was that I didn’t have a teacher so that means I wasn’t offending anybody. I understand if you have a big name fighter to look up to you have to do it his way or the highway. A great coach would say - like I say, I teach only twice a week but I tell my students “go anywhere you want, any gym, go anywhere you want, don’t worry that I’m going to be angry” because I know deep down inside I know they’re not going to get anywhere else what they’re going to get with me. If I’m invested in something I’m invested. If I commit it commit. There you go. That’s the habits. Since I didn’t have that coach I couldn’t offend anybody. I would say “I can make this better.” “Oh that’s an ego thing.” No it’s not an ego thing. This is just from a long time ago and I think I can make it better. Once you start working with it you start understanding it better.

You know the thing that I always say to people as well is everything has a reason. A submission works a certain way. You have to understand a submission. And 90%-100% of the fighters will say “no I understand.” No you don’t understand. You know what it looks like and you know - because if you know it more people would get tapped with a simple figure four arm bar. But they do it wrong. The head should be in the line or lower than your shoulders. If the head is higher people escape.

You watch UFC, Bellator, big organizations; once they go for submission they do it wrong. This is a white belt move. They don’t understand how it works. If they would understand what would happen if they bring that hand down, wow, now you can lift the elbow two inches. If you bring the hand up you can lift the elbow all the way elbow and they roll out. I mean once you understand that then it’s easier to absorb the techniques.

Because I taught everything myself I was understanding it because I’d say “okay it hurts there, it hurts there, okay I can do this to escape, try to stop me now, okay, yeah that’s a good one but still I can escape.” Then I would go for an escape and right into a counter technique. Okay now he knows this. Let’s see if I can do another counter technique. Wait a minute, a straight arm bar. Okay. I roll with my guy. I do it three times on him. Suddenly he knows (of course) what I am going to do because I have a certain path to that straight arm bar. Okay so now he can stop me. Wait a minute, let’s create a different way to do that same arm bar. Okay. I get creative. Find another way. Now I tap him again also 3-4 times (because my guy was a good guy as well). Okay now I’ve got two ways. Let’s create another way. Once you start throwing those 1, 2, 3, sometimes even four different set ups for the same technique, once you start mixing those up then you’re going to be successful because then you’re spinning the head of your opponent.

If there is just one way to do it well everybody knows that way. How many times do you see a guy getting submitted by a certain technique that nobody did before then for two weeks straight everybody is getting submitted with that technique and then everybody is gone again because everybody knows the defense. That is what I’m saying.

In the beginning (all the way at the beginning) I made the mistake of learning to escape the arm bar. Thankfully once I started committing and I got obsessed with ground fighting - oh man I love it. It’s the worst thing that I cannot do it anymore because of my neck. Once I got obsessed with it I realized it’s better to learn the arm bar because if you understand the mechanics of an arm bar you automatically know how to stay out of it or how to escape it.

Cain: I love how much of a learner you were coming up and being self taught and teaching yourself how to use all those different ground fighting techniques. Bas now that you’re retired from MMA - I believe it was in 1999, is that right?

Rutten: Yes. Then I made one more fight in 2006. I thought I was injury free but all the injuries came back. It was good. I stopped him in the first round. But it was really god telling me okay it’s done, you’ve got to stop.

Cain: You can see that fight if you go to YouTube. You see he finishes it with a leg kick I believe it was wasn’t it?

Rutten: That’s it. That’s the one.

Cain: Love it. It’s fantastic. How do you, now that you’re retired from MMA - I think a lot of fighters I’ve worked with their only definition of success for their life is if they get to wear a gold belt around their waist. Then for some of them that happens and for some of them it doesn’t. How do you define success for yourself now with where you’re at in life?

Rutten: That’s a big one. How do you define success. Whatever you love to do if you can make that your profession I would say that is it. Reaching your goal of what you really want to do in life, what makes you happy. If you can make that into - there is this saying that if you - how does it say? If you make your hobby your profession you never go a day to work. That’s it. That’s what people say. But I think you have to choose it for the right reason. When you want to do something because money or fame is attached to it that’s great but if you don’t love it you’re not really going to commit.

That’s what I always tell the people in school. You excel at the things that you like and you don’t excel at the things that you don’t like so pick something that you love to do. It’s not all about fame and money. it’s about being a good person to others and just doing what you need to do because that you can take to your grave. That is fame for me.

People say “Bas Rutten? Oh he was a nice guy, helped everybody, was always on top of his things,” after they do a whole list about my persona and how I helped people and what I tried to do and then at the end they might say “oh you know what he could kick some ass too.” The most important to me is to be there for other people and to help. If you find something that you really love to do and you can excel at that that is the definition of success to me.

Cain: Love that. That’s fantastic. Thanks for that. I’ve only got two more questions here for you Bas. The next question is what is the difference between you had a chance to fight in the UFC and fight in Pancrase and you also had a professional wrestling career. Like Brock Lesnar you both held the UFC Heavyweight Championship. What is the difference as an athlete in MMA and also in going into pro wrestling?

Rutten: Thankfully I did it in Japan and in Japan they call it “strong style” and that means they use real submission moves. You know beforehand of course who is going to win. I could never do this here in America. It’s a different style. I don’t know this style because it’s not close to being real for me. In Japan - well it’s all real moves that everybody uses so then it’s great.

What I did realize though is that I had way more injuries in pro wrestling than I did in real fighting. The reason is very simple, you let yourself get hit - something that I did not do in fighting. If you don’t treat it as a real fight it’s like - how do I say that? If you don’t show respect to a small weight - all the problems in the gym always happen with small weights. Why? Because people don’t respect it. If it’s a heavy weight now you watch your posture and you watch everything perfect. But if you pick up a little five pound weight and you do it a little wrong by you don’t squat your legs and bop something suddenly happens.

That’s the same in pro wrestling. If you don’t respect it - let me tell you these guys here and over there in Japan also, the falls they make are real falls, trust me. People break their leg all the time, they have injuries all the time, because they do it 200-220 times a year. They just travel to the next show on a daily basis. Oh now my knee is hurt from the fight. Well guess what you’re going to have to do ten more in these next two weeks then you’re going to have a five day break then you’re going to start again. Injury prone, very injury prone.

That’s what happened with me. The first one I broke a disc in my back. without surgery they healed it. Then I ruptured an eyeball. Somebody had his finger in my eye because I didn’t block it because it was in the script (so to say) that he was going to hit me in the face. The third one was I ruptured my eardrum. The same thing, an open hand strike to my ear which I didn’t block and my ear drum was broken for 6-7 years. I could not fix it because I was travelling so much and flying so much that they can’t fix it because every time you go up and you put a patch on it (so to say) it will explode again (or have the chance to explode, to open up again) so it was useless. Those were just my first three pro wrestling matches.

My wife actually told me “why don’t you go back to real fighting, you have more injuries now than you’ve ever had in real fighting.” That I would say is the biggest difference. But then again real fighting you have to really commit and you didn’t have to do it in pro wrestling. You can get by with just your basic shape, something that you cannot do in real fighting. You always have to push. My big rule is you can never have enough stamina in Mixed Martial Arts or any fighting for that matter.

Cain: Awesome. Bas, I just realized that you are also a culinary chef. Is that something that you go to to kind of help you escape the pressure and the competitiveness of MMA? Where did you get turned on to culinary chef?

Rutten: That was my thing when I was a kid. I wanted to become a culinary chef. It was from like 6-10 then it went away and suddenly it came back around 17 and I went to culinary school. Then I started working at 20-21. I started working in kitchens. One thing led to another. I had a fall out with one of the cooks who was also the owner who I helped for like two years I worked there.


I was a really good person to him because whatever I commit myself to I really try to do well so I was a good cook. I could do - literally my record was 42 people in one night that I did by myself. This is appetizers, main courses, and I would get them. Not at the same time of course. A table of three there. Four there. Three. I would take pride in that to see how many people I could do by myself.

Then there was one day that - on a Tuesday for instance never were there more than eight people that came in. So I would prepare for 25 people just to make sure. Put the mise en place, that’s how they call it in French, that is the preparation for all the sauces that you have at the ready - the basic sauces because from a basic sauce you can make all these other sauces. There are a whole bunch of things that you have to prepare. For some reason that day like 30 people can in so I ran out of the preparation that I had.

I ran inside the house which is where the head cook lived (the chef cook and he was a boss as well) and he started yelling at me in the kitchen. I said “listen let’s stop yelling, let’s take care of these people first, and once we take care of these people you can start yelling at me and tell me what I did wrong.” “NO!” and he kept screaming at me. I said “dude we’ve got to do business here” and he kept on going. He said “you do whatever I tell you to do” and I said “that is actually not the case.” He grabbed a big bowl of butter and he said “if I throw this on the ground and I tell you to clean it up you’re going to clean it up.”  So I walked over to him, I hit the bowl of butter out of his hand, and I said “ask me.” That was the last day I worked. It was already the time also that I found martial arts so then I went away.

I was heartbroken because of it. I did so much for that person and for them to treat me like that - he was paging me (there were pagers at the time) but I didn’t react anymore. I said “no that was not cool.” I tried to save it but that was it. I don’t even know why this story came up. It’s probably fresh in my head and still aggravating me.

But yes, at home I like to cook. I like to do little things. I like to have friends over sometimes and then surprise them with a nice little appetizer, a nice bouillon that I made for three days. I made it very strong, a very nice one, and a good appetizer. Then the main course and I wrap it up with a great dessert homemade by Bas. That’s kind of cool. Most of them don’t know - well all my good friends know but if you have friends who don’t know it that’s kind of cool because they go “you did this” and then they realize that was actually my profession.

Cain: That’s unbelievable. I never knew that. unbelievable. A friend of mine who is one of the top coaches in the country, Joe Amplo at Marquette University, he is also a certified chef, certified culinary expert. I’ll tell you what being able to sit down and have some food that he has prepared is unbelievable.

Bas, thank you for taking the time. Our last question here my friend is that if you could remove the skull cap of everybody listening to this - again out audience is coaches, athletes, people that you are. You’re talking to yourself. If you could plant one seed inside of their head about something that you know now with the life experience that you’ve had that you wish you knew when you were younger, that if that seed would germinate and they would do it and it would improve their life what would that seed be?

Rutten: This is a thing I use. I have no clue who said it. It’s one line and I tell everybody it and that should straighten everybody out. Just say “how do you want to be remembered.” Just tell that person “how do you want to be remembered.” If you catch the person at the time that he is drunk and crazy then go “do you want to be remembered like that.” If you’re a fighter or an athlete (let’s say a fighter) do you want to be remembered as the guy who was cheating? Who had a lot of talent but never really trained hard so that’s why you lost? Or do you want to be remembered as a good fighter? Even when you don’t become a champion that guy that every champion is afraid of even because they know that if they go to step in with you they’re going to have a hard time. This guy is always on.

That is a big question in everything you do. How do you want to be remembered when you’re dead and people are talking about you? Then you can make your decision. if you decide to stay partying well that’s how they’re going to remember you. If you think that’s cool - “that guy had a great brain but he threw his life away at partying,” I think that’s a stupid thing to write on a tombstone. So hopefully most of the time that straightens people out.

Cain: So I have to ask you how do you want to be remembered?

Rutten: I kind of mentioned on that. I want to be remembered as the guy who was a good guy, who would hold doors open for people. If an older person comes on the bus and there’s no space I will be the guy who stands up right away. I’ve been shouting to youngsters saying “get up there is a whole group of old people coming, your parents didn’t tell you anything?” I’m the guy who always tries to save everybody.

If people do something stupid in traffic and they start flipping me off and then suddenly they challenge me I go out and I always put my hands up and say “guys” - because once I step out they realize they made a mistake - but I go “no I just want to talk to you” and then I explain to them what was going on. I say “why on earth would you be so angry?” I always explain it to them and all of them 100% always go “yeah that was kind of stupid.” I say “I know, next time just think about you don’t know situations from people.”


People cutting off on the right, the left, and they’re flying through traffic. Yeah 90% of the time it’s just an A-hole, it’s just a bad person, I don’t like it. but I guarantee you there is that 10% chance that maybe somebody in a car there has a delivery, the baby is almost coming. That could be the reason he is speeding up. Until you don’t know exactly what goes on you shouldn’t judge. Once you start living like that I think you’re a good person. That is how I want to be remembered.

People say “yeah he was a good dude, he helped people.” The emails I get from people who have kids or the kids who are emailing me who have the skin disease, who have the asthma, it’s an insane amount but I always make time and I always make sure that I answer them because it’s going to help them. If you can do that and then at the end like I said before they’ll say “you know what he was actually a pretty good fighter as well.” I think the most important thing is being a decent person to humanity. Do your part in humanity (I always say) then do the rest.

Cain: I love it. Bas Rutten, you’re off the hot seat my friend. Thank you so much for taking the time to be a guest on the Peak Performance Podcast. So much good stuff that you just gave to our listeners. I love that question of how do you want to be remembered. As you’re saying that I’m sitting here just taking notes and that is a question that I think our listeners have to go ask themselves.


With every podcast I try to summarize with what I think the number one take home was and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do it with this podcast because there was so much great stuff. I would encourage our listeners to start with how do you want to be remembered. And make sure you go over to www.BasRutten.com, check out his podcast, also follow him on Twitter @BasRuttenMMA. Bas, thank you so much. I can’t thank you enough.

Rutten: Godspeed Brian. I appreciate it. I loved it. Thank you very much.


BC 124. Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman - Driven, The MMA Fighters Mindset

March 8, 2017

In this episode, Brian talks with Mixed Martial Arts fighter Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman and his remarkable story going from working his dream job as a Spanish teacher, to winning UFC fights in the Octagon.

Follow Charlie on Twitter @SpaniardMMA

Follow Charlie on Instagram @MMASpaniard

Check out his website Charlie-Brenneman.com

You will learn about...

  • Charlie's journey going from Spanish teacher to UFC fighter
  • Charlie's 5 Elements of Excellence that have lead him to great success
  • Charlie's AM and PM routines
  • Charlie's daily video posted on Facebook and YouTube where he shares knowledge from the book he is reading that day
  • How you can have Charlie come speak to your team or school



Brenneman: That result is there. We want it, we want it, we want it. But just above that - slightly more important than that - is the process, is the pursuit of that goal not the attainment of that goal.

Cain: This is Brian Cain with the Peak Performance Podcast. Today our guest, Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman, has not only fought the who’s-who in the Mixed Martial Arts world as a UFC veteran but he is also a former high school teacher. Charlie has a fascinating story that has come out with his book Driven: My Unlikely Journey from Classroom To Cage. Charlie, I’m just fired up to have you on. Thanks for making the time to be a part of the Peak Performance Podcast.

Brenneman: It’s my pleasure to be here. I love talking to likeminded people and you’re one of them so I’m happy to be here.

Cain: Well Charlie if you would for our listeners they probably have seen you in the cage. They’ve seen you with the who’s-who in the UFC from Johny Hendricks and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. What they probably don’t know is your story up until that point in the UFC. Could you give kind of a quick snapshot of your career as a high school/college athlete, into teaching, and then what kind of got you into MMA?

Brenneman: I’m from central Pennsylvania. I grew up in a small town. I’m a wrestler. Even today when I speak one of my lines is “I’m a wrestler who learned to fight.” That is basically what I did. The sport of wrestling taught me mental toughness, it taught me mindset, it taught me discipline, sacrifice. Those are the things that I carried up with me through high school. I would always come close to achieving my goals but I would fall short. I started to keep track and understand that the reason I was falling short was because I ultimately lacked the self confidence at the highest level.

I ended up losing a state title two years in a row in high school. I took my athletic career into wrestling and for my first four years of my collegiate wrestling I red shirted a year. I completely underperformed. The last year it was like I had a mental breakthrough that really changed my last year, it changed the trajectory of my future. I ended up capping off my college career in a great way. I still felt short of my goal but I finished in a round of twelve at Division One Nationals. Then I thought it was all done. I thought all that discipline and sacrifice was over. I was ready to go home. I was ready to get fat and sit on the couch.

After about a year of doing that I realized that I needed something. I needed to compete again. Around that time the sport of Mixed Martial Arts was starting to come to the forefront and started to kind of make a little bit of progress in the mainstream. Then literally one day I decided I’m going to leave my Spanish teaching position and I’m going to be a UFC fighter.

Up until two years ago it’ll be my last fight but I spent the last decade training with, competing against, fighting, beating, losing to, the biggest baddest toughest fighters in the world. I came from a small town, became a teacher, then fighting, and now I’m on the other side of it where I’m kind of taking everything I learned, condensing it, and delivering it through speaking and mentoring.

Cain: I know we just kind of got off of a good discussion before we got onto the podcast. What are some of the key principles that when you’re going in to speak to a school or you’re going in to work with a team what are some of the key principles - basically your framework, Charlie, that you share with them that made you successful that you know if they would adopt and they’ll heed to you teachings you know that they’ll be more successful. What are some of those key principles or key concepts within your framework?

Brenneman: So what I did when I had my last fight and I thought “what am I going to do,” the first thing I did was I sat down and I literally wrote a book. I had had so many questions about I left my job, I got called crazy, I got called stupid, I got called all kinds of things because it was against the norm. So I sat down and I wrote a book about it. I’m a note taker and I’m a writer so I condensed all of the notes, the principles, the things that I’ve recorded over the years and I boiled them down into five what I call “elements of excellence.” Those things together create a fighter’s mindset.

When you’re talking about a fighter’s mindset you think of the best fighters in the world. There is this resilience and perseverance and mental toughness and discipline - all these things. But the five things that I really focus on is the idea of a vision, knowing where you want to go, always having that North Star.

The next thing is your core values whether it’s in your personal life, whether it’s in your athletic life, your professional life. I read a lot of books and so many of them focus on this idea of core values, knowing who you truly are and being that person in competition.

The next one is defining success. To me that took me a lifetime of winning and losing. That took me a lifetime of competing to really truly appreciate the process versus the outcome.

The fourth one is living with accountability. To me accountability - when I decided to leave my teaching position and I decided to literally drive into the unknown, this unknown world, it was all on me. It was on my shoulders. I had no paycheck. I had no leads. I had to create it. So that idea of accountability, (as Jocko Willink in Extreme Ownership says) assuming extreme ownership in everything you do and say.

Then the last part - I don’t want to say the most powerful, but - is the idea of surrounding yourself with the best every day. Even today in my life connecting with you, connecting with other speakers and mentors and podcasters, I’m obsessed with surrounding myself with the best. Looking at the best in the world then literally trying to talk to them. The first two guys I communicated with in Mixed Martial Arts were Eddie Alvarez and Frankie Edgar. Eddie is the current UFC Champion. Frankie is one of the best in history. So I believe in the power of influence.

Those five elements are kind of my keys to living with a fighter’s mindset.

Cain: I love that. I think you hit the nail right on the head and as it ties back with what a lot of our listeners have gone through and are familiar with some of the work that I’ve done with the 12 Pillars of Peak Performance and in talking about vision and values (that’s Pillar #2) and kind of defining your success is that process. The process over the outcome. Then surrounding yourself with the best. As we say you become the average of the five people that you hang out with most.

In one of the books that you mentioned from Jocko Willink about extreme ownership, one of the top reads (I think) from people in our Inner Circle and people that are going to be listening to this podcast. I’m assuming you’ve seen his video where he talks about good and making adversity your advantage. What are some of the other best books that you’ve read that have had the biggest impact on your mindset?

Brenneman: I literally read every morning. It’s one of the things I started doing 42 days ago. I read every morning. I’ve been reading for years and years and one of the things I’ve been doing is making a daily video summarizing and applying what I have read that day to everyday life. There are 100 books I could say.


Some of the coolest recent ones that I’ve read, The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. It talks about using adversity to your advantage. Certainly The Obstacle Is The Way. Start With Why by Simon Sinek which just really gets back to kind of along the lines of your values. Figure out what’s your purpose. Why do I get up every morning at 4:30? Why do I still do treadmill sprint workouts when I have no fight? Really getting to the core of that.


I’ll give you a third one. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson talks about small consistent actions repeated over a long period of time resulting in giant results. Those are three of the top ones. Reading is a habit that I would encourage everyone to get into.

Cain: Those are definitely four books that are in my library and four books that I think many of our listeners have gone through. It’s funny, The Slight Edge is a book that was given to SMU’s athletic director, Rick Hart, gave that book to all of their coaches. Then The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday, he’s got another book The Ego Is The Enemy that the TCU athletic director gave to all of their coaches. So you’re reading books, Charlie, that are right up there with our audience.

The videos that you make, is that something that you put out on social media and  something that our listeners could follow along as well so they could kind of learn through what they’re learning?

Brenneman: Absolutely. I’m glad that you mentioned that. I do Facebook Live. I tested it out a little with Periscope, a little with Facebook Live, and I seem to get the most views on Facebook Live. From there I upload them to YouTube so you can subscribe to me on YouTube to get them on a daily basis or you can follow me on my personal page, Charlie Brenneman, or my business page, Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman.

Every morning 5:30 I’m there with a smile on my face kind of reciting. I feel kind of weird because I’ve been an athlete, I’ve been a fighter, that’s what I do, but I get so amped up about reading and learning and just pushing it out. So yeah I put them out every day on my social media.

Cain: I love it. So your social media. The best place for people to follow you. What is your Twitter handle?

Brenneman: @SpaniardMMA. My website www.Charlie-Brenneman.com has all of my links in the upper right-hand corner. I’m SpaniardMMA across the board. Instagram I’m MMASpaniard because I can’t get SpaniardMMA so that is the only hiccup.

Cain: Then your YouTube channel is SpaniardMMA?

Brenneman: Yep. If you just search Charlie Brenneman or SpaniardMMA on YouTube it will come up.

Cain: Awesome. I think that would be something that our listeners definitely will want to follow. I didn’t realize you did that so that is going to be something I go and get on for sure and check those out in the morning. You talk about getting up every morning and doing a video at 5:30. You sound like you’re a machine of routine. Tell us about your morning routine and kind of what you do on a daily basis.

Brenneman: This is something for the listeners out there. I’m a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk who - you can call him an internet marketer, entrepreneur, he’s a lot of things. One of the things that I learned from him - actually I didn’t learn it from him. I felt comfortable because I heard him reaffirm it, this idea of trying a bunch of different things.

The very first person who turned me on to this idea of a morning routine is Hal Elrod in The Miracle Morning. Since then I’ve tried maybe 10-20 different routines in the morning. For me basically it’s simple. My alarm is set for 4:30 every morning. I get up early every morning. On Sundays I sleep in till a whopping 6:00 or 6:30. There is really only two things: I drink 32 ounces of water basically right out of the gate and I read for at least 30 minutes a day. Those two things when it’s completely quiet, when the bids aren’t even chirping, it’s dark, I’m sitting here with water, a coffee, and my book. If I can get that in my day then that puts me up in the right direction.

Cain: Hal Elrod, one of my favorite books The Miracle Morning where he talks about the acronym SAVERS. The first S is silence, the A if affirmation (so positive), the V is visualization, the E is exercise, the R is that you read, and the last S is that you scribe and you write and you actually do that without knowing and putting it to the SAVERS acronym that Hal talks about in The Miracle Morning. You’re actually doing that on a daily basis. Maybe instead of writing you’re speaking into your video and putting it out there for others which is probably a more easier digestible way for people to learn these days. But I love that morning routine.

What about your PM routine? Do you have a shutdown routine at the end of the day to help you kind of log off and get more dialed in with your family?

Brenneman: We just had a son three weeks ago and I have a daughter that is three years old. Where I’m at in this phase of my life I’m probably done fighting for several different reasons. I realize it’s like the work is there, the tasks are there, and I could literally work every hour of every day. This is a transition period for me and my wife. We’ve seen in the last decade when it went from teaching to fighting and fighting now into speaking and mentoring that these different transition phases - and they’re tough. For any goal driven person in a relationship who has a family it’s tough. It’s not easy.

What we’ve done is develop - that’s partially the reason I get up at 4:30 in the morning, so I have the time to do the things I need to do. But I really - we’re recording now in the PM and this is an anomaly. I normally shut off by - I’m done with my workout by 5:30 and then it’s all family. Just because if I didn’t draw that hard line it would go on forever. Mixing that business and family time is just not a winner in our home.

Cain: That one hit me pretty hard as I’m sitting here on a cruise and I’m looking at my wife who is sitting out on the balcony waiting for me to get done doing work so that I can take her to dinner. I think you hit the nail on the head.

For the coaches that are listening to this you’ve got to have that hard shutdown routine. You’ve got to have that time in your day where you said “hey what’s done is done and what’s not done can be put off until tomorrow” because if you don’t draw that hard line you’re right, you could literally work 24 hours in a day when you’re uber motivated and a guy who is excited to go out there and make a difference which our listeners are. So I think I they can start to learn about that shutdown routine as well. That’s going to be important.

Now when you shut down at 5:30 after that workout are you done with technology and you’re turning off the computer and the email and the cell phone and all that so you can engage? Or do you still have that digital distraction sometimes?

Brenneman: Yeah I’m not going to sit here and say I’m perfect by any means. But no, my objective is to - I actually am up in my office right now (it’s on the third floor of my house) and I leave my computer up here because what I’ve found is that when I would bring my computer downstairs I would be tempted. If my wife went in to get something to eat or to fix something to eat I’d be tempted to hop on my computer and check my email real quick. So by leaving it up here in the attic it’s kind of the idea of if you don’t want to eat junk food don’t keep it in your cupboards. It’s that same idea. If I don’t want to be on my computer I should leave it upstairs. So I do that.

My cell phone, I’ve flirted with some different strategies here and there but it’s in my pocket but I’ve done a good enough job - and I know this from my wife saying “you know what you’ve done a really great job in the last couple months of staying off your cell phone after hours.” The computer is the hard up in the attic. The cell phone is just in awareness that I’m aware of how much I’m on it.

Cain: Love it. That’s awesome. That’s great advice for everybody. Charlie, if we can let’s go back to your I think you call them your five “elements of excellence?” Is that right?

Brenneman: Yep.

Cain: And with the five elements of excellence - vision, core values, defining success, living with accountability, and surrounding yourself with the best - how do you define success for yourself?

Brenneman: Whenever you’re explaining it you kind of mention the process. What happened to me is from a young age, honestly from the earliest I can remember I was dead set on getting straight As and I was dead set on winning a state championship in wrestling. Those were my goals. I would achieve those goals often but I would fall short of those goals almost as often. One of the things I tell coaches and parents as often as I can is expose your kids - both your real kids and your athletes - expose them to winning and losing as often as possible. That builds resilience and that builds mental fortitude.

What I learned - honestly the heartbreak of losing two state titles, especially the second one, in high school. I was an 18 year old kid and you would think as a 35 year old man who experienced all this other stuff in the last 15 years those two nights I can’t think of a more painful athletic night than those two nights. I still kept going. I still kept moving forward, keeping my values, having that vision clear of who and what I wanted to be. But it wasn’t until I was fighting.

You see in UFC you fight but every 3-5 months. So what would happen is I would win a fight, I would come home and I would feel like a million bucks. That was great, I had money, this and that. But then if I lost I would come home and just feel like absolute garbage. Like absolute terrible garbage. Everything was terrible. Then after that happening 3, 4, 5 times I started to - honestly it was like I just got fed up with it and I thought “there has to be another way to do this because this is not worth it, this up and down is not worth being a professional fighter.” Then it was like one day it clicked and it was like “wait a minute that’s silly” to judge my self worth, to judge my feeling, to judge my mental state on the winning and the losing is wrong. I truly believe it’s wrong.

That’s where it goes back to the process that you mentioned and Nick Saban mentions it. The idea of defining success to me - and whether you want to quote John Wooden also - is the process. Putting in the work on a daily, on an hourly, on a minute basis to produce that result in the end. That result is there. We want it, we want it, we want it. But just above that - slightly more important than that - is the process, is the pursuit of that goal not the attainment of that goal.

Cain: I love that. You just mentioned two of the greatest coaches of all time (I think) in Saban and Wooden. Wooden, since we mentioned books and I’m keeping a list of your books that you mentioned here which we’ll put out in the notes with this episode, is one of John Wooden’s books A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On And Off the Court. It’s a little blue book. it’s fantastic.

Brenneman: Yep. Blue and yellow.

Cain: Yeah you got it. Then Nick Saban’s book How Good Do You Want to Be I think is one of the best that I’ve ever read as well. The one I have has this cover of him at LSU on it. I know the new one has him in Alabama. So he talked about the process and I think you’re so spot on with that. What about your core values?

Brenneman: I was going to say another just little caveat I wanted to throw in there is this idea of excellence. Honestly when I started this pursuit (speaking and mentoring etc.) the term “excellence,” (“elements of excellence” hence the Elements of Excellence) that word really stuck to me. That stuck with me. As a kid my parents taught me, one, do the best you can in everything you do, and two, inspire other people to do the same. It was like those were kind f the two things that I thought were normal. I thought “oh yes every person does their best and every person inspires other people.” I just thought that was normal. This standard of excellence I’ve carried with me in my life.

None of us are perfect. I’ve done less than perfect things and haven’t maintained that standard. But I believe in operating with a mindset of excellence on a daily basis. It’s like you know the cliché you shoot for the stars, you miss, you still land hot. If your objective, if your mission is excellence you’re going to be good across the board no matter what. I really want to stress and emphasize the importance of setting your bar at excellence.

Cain: I love that. Skip Bertman, who was the baseball coach at LSU for a number of years, I had a dream come true and got a chance to do a book with him within the last year. One of the things that Skip talked about is he says there are three doors you can go through. You can go through the door of win, you can go through the door of loss, or you can go through the door of excellence. Excellence is bigger than winning. Sometimes you can give an excellent performance and not win. I’m sure in the octagon you’ve had those fights where you’ve gone out there and fought great and fought the way you wanted to and because of the judges or because the other guy was just a little bit better that night it didn’t go the way you wanted it to.

But I think that happens in athletics all the time is that the process doesn’t always lead to the result but the process does give you the best chance to get the result. I think if you’re committed to excellence and being the best that you possibly can be and have that growth mindset you’re going to be able to achieve a lot more over the marathon than the person who is focused on win-loss. Would you agree?

Brenneman: Absolutely. 100%. The process versus the achievement or the process versus the outcome, yeah, it’s - and I’m not saying this to make myself feel better because I lost three fights in a row to end my career. I’m not saying this to make the listeners feel good about themselves because they lost and they need a pat on the back. I’m saying this because it’s tried and true from experience. This is what I learned. This is what the most successful people in the world have learned. If you’re not going to take it from me take it from Saban, take it from Wooden, take it from all of these other people who say the same thing.

Cain: No question. We use a term a lot that says “success leaves clues.” You’ve reaffirmed and (I think) brought to the table a lot of the same concludes that we try to teach and that coaches try to teach. But coaches that are listening to this and myself, I’ve never stepped in the octagon. I’ve been on either side of the octagon - fence, corner, and some guys - but you’ve been in there with the who’s-who of MMA.

For the coaches or the teachers or the athletic directors listening to this if they wanted to bring you in to deliver your message on the five elements of excellence and talk about the importance of vision, talk about core values and knowing who you are, redefining success as it relates to the process and the pursuit of excellence, being more accountable (which I know every coach has issues with trying to grow accountability in their program), and then talking about that surrounding yourself with the best and you becoming one of those people that those coaches associate with, what is the best way for people to get a hold of you and do you go in and speak to schools and do you go in and work with athletes and programs? Talk a little bit more about that process and how they can get you and what you do when you go in there.

Brenneman: I appreciate that. absolutely that is what I do. If you go to my website www.Charlie-Brenneman.com it’s very simple to navigate. There is a contact tab up top. Contact me. Speaking events, workshops, mentoring, it’s right there for you to clearly define why you’re making contact.

Honestly one of the more enjoyable things I do is these workshops, these fighter’s mindset workshops. There are six one hour sessions. I take them through the elements of excellence. I cap it off with a leadership session. It works great with coaches and it works great with athletes.

One of the things I’ve learned from experience and I’ve heard said across the board is these success principles, these fighter mindset principles, they’re going to work for you in high school athletics, they’re going to work for you in college athletics, they’re going to work for you in a coaching position, in a professional position, they’re success principles that don’t falter. They work across the board.

It’s awesome. For much of my life I was the guy in the fire. I was the guy in the octagon. I was the guy on TV. And I loved it, trust me. It was awesome. I loved every second of it. But now that I’m able to kind of 10x, 20x, 1,000x, 1,000,000x that into affecting people around me - I don’t want to say it’s more enjoyable but it’s just slowly becoming more enjoyable.

Cain: I think they say that the true measure of a man’s life is the positive impact that he’s had on others. You have a positive impact through inspiration. When you’re in the cage and you’re fighting it’s entertaining but I think you being able to take your experience, Charlie, of what you’ve done and what you’ve learned through that journey of being an elite MMA warrior and a guy who has fought the best of the best. You are in there with a UFC World Champion and Johny Hendricks. You are in there with Anthony Johnson who I think was a World Champion as well?

Brenneman: He was almost. He still might be. Well first of all I fought him at 170 lbs. Now he’s at 205 lbs. So he’s the number one contender at 205.

Cain: I remember the days of him and his weight class changing. He’s probably at his natural weight now of 205. I can only imagine how much of a beast he was at 170.

But being able to have gone through and done that and now being able to take what you’ve learned from all the punches and the trials and tribulations and now being able to decipher that into the five elements of excellence and share that with young people who are in the pursuit of excellence (and for coaches who are trying to support their young people in pursuit of excellence) I think is fantastic. The beauty of just getting to know you a little bit here on the podcast today and in our time before is you were also a high school teacher and you are able to communicate that and you can communicate it in Spanish. It’s something that I think is very unique.

I will say having spent a lot of time in MMA there is not a lot of UFC fighters that I’d be comfortable with having been a former athletic director rolling them out in front of my coaches or rolling them out in front of my students because some of them - the full student body that would be non athletes - and having you go out there to talk about the five elements of excellence, that fits across the board. And the fact that you have been in a classroom and are comfortable in that setting and know what is appropriate to do with high school student athletes and high school students I think makes you at least at the top of my list of people that I would bring in to speak to my student athletes and coaches if I were still a high school athletic director.

So Charlie, I’m fired up to have had the opportunity to get to know you. I appreciate you making time. I apologize for keeping you past 5:30 so please apologize to your wife for me.

Brenneman: No worries.

Cain: For all of our listeners again you want to follow him at @SpaniardMMA on YouTube, SpaniardMMA, and go to www.Charlie-Brenneman.com. Looking forward to getting you back on here as a repeat guest. This is one of my favorite podcasts we’ve done and it’s exciting for me personally having watched you fight and compete in the cage as much as I have to be able to get you on a podcast here. It’s very impressive to get to meet the guy who was inside of the cage. Pretty cool.

Brenneman: I appreciate it. One more thing I don’t think I mentioned at all is my podcast The Fighter’s Mindset: The Spaniard Podcast. What I do is I dive deep into - it’s called A Fighter’s Mindset and to be honest I was debating whether to call it that because it’s not about fighting. It’s about applying the mindset, a fighter’s mindset, to everyday life whether it’s competition in sports, competition in life, being a better father, you name it. It’s those ideas - self confidence, perseverance, resilience - all those things that make us successful inside the octagon, translating that into sports and other areas of life. You can also find that on the podcast page on my website or check us out on iTunes at A Fighter’s Mindset: The Spaniard Podcast.

Cain: Fantastic. I’m fired up. I’m going to get on the bike tomorrow morning and pound it out as I’m training for an Iron Man coming up here and I’m going to listen to episodes on there.

Brenneman: Nice.

Cain: Yeah I don’t know how nice it is. It’s a pain in the ass really.

Brenneman: I hear you.

Cain: But it’s just something you set a goal and you want to go do it and it’s something I’m not sure I can finish so we’re going to find out here. But I’m going to work the process and give myself the best chance for success and that’s all I can ask. I believe that if I do that I’ll cross the finish line. I think if you keep sticking to the process and doing what you’re doing you’re going to have a tremendous impact and influence on a lot of people’s lives out there.

Charlie, thanks for your humility, thanks for your commitment to excellence, and thanks for being a guest on the Peak Performance Podcast.

Brenneman: My pleasure. I want to throw this last thing out there. I am not okay with having fought the best guys in the world. I wanted to beat them. I wanted to win a world championship but I didn’t. That fire and that passion is coming out of me and I’m instilling it in other people. That is what’s driving me every morning to get up at 4:30 and to keep doing these sprint workouts is to share that with the up and coming group of kids and coaches that still have that opportunity.

Cain: Wow I hate to say this but I guess I’m thankful for the fact that you never got the chance to put the UFC Gold around your waist because if you weren’t on the mission that you’re on right now I don’t think you would have impacted as many people’s lives as you’re going to. So maybe the best thing that never happened to you was winning a UFC title because you are going to influence and impact a hell of a lot more people by what you’re doing now (I think) than you would if you were still in the cage my friend.

Brenneman: The obstacle is the way. Let’s end it with that.