Andre Fili alternated wins and losses in his first eight UFC bouts. Every time he picked up a marquee win and seemed finally ready to make a legitimate run in the featherweight division, he fell short his next time out.
But suddenly, in his past five fights, “Touchy” is 4-1. And sandwiched between two pairs of wins, which includes a first-round knockout of Sheymon Moraes earlier this month at UFC Sacramento, is a split decision.
So, what changed? What has led to the recent increase in success for Fili?
“I’m back in love with fighting,” Fili told Bloody Elbow. “For a while, I was treating it kind of like a job. And now I’m back in love with it. It’s fun again. That’s a huge part of it.”
Fili said his mindset towards MMA changed for about a two-year stretch starting in 2015. He wasn’t enjoying it as much as he used to and began “just clocking in” — almost as if he was working a regular 9-5 job, just counting hours until it was time to go home. Fili said how long he’d already been fighting for — he made his pro debut in 2009 at the age of 19 — also contributed to it.
“I think it was a mix of things. I don’t know if any of it is super cut and dry,” Fili said. … “There’s a lot of stuff that goes outside of fighting you don’t see. I had a lot of other bullsh-t going on.
“I wasn’t performing at my best. I wasn’t performing as well as I should have been performing.”
Around his October 2017 win over Artem Lobov, which happened to be the beginning of his 4-1 run, Fili said things went back to how they used to be.
“I started to feel that shift, started changing some of the things I was doing, working on a lot of other aspects in fighting besides just the physical aspect of it,” Fili said. “I’ve been focusing on not just the physical part of fighting, but the mental part of fighting, the emotional, the spiritual part of fighting, and just becoming a more complete fighter, a more complete person.
“That sh-t started really paying off. It’s been good to me. I’m really happy with where I’m at right now and I’m excited to keep making progress and getting better.”
Fili, now riding a two-fight winning streak, is ready to make even bigger waves in the 145-pound division than he has already.
“I’m enjoying it, and it shows in my performances,” Fili said. “I’m having fun. I love what I do. I get to wake up every day and fight. I love it, and I’m appreciative of it. It’s just been all good things and I’m going to keep the momentum going.”