Scottish fighter Joanne Calderwood believes the pressure on mixed martial artists is intensified because a winning position can change dramatically within seconds.
The 32-year-old from Irvine in North Ayrshire will look to enhance her claims for a UFC flyweight title shot when she faces Katlyn Chookagian in Chicago in June.
Chookagian is ranked third in the flyweight standings, four places above Calderwood, who opened up on the strains and stresses of taking part in the UFC and how difficult defeats are to accept.
She said: “It’s so hard because you have to remember we only get to show up two or three times a year. We are still working every day apart from fights.
“There is a lot of pressure going into a fight, worrying about if it’s going to be a bad day. MMA is so tough because one bad mistake can cost us. It’s harsh. You can be winning a fight but lose it in 10 seconds.
“You need to channel the pressure into making sure you are prepared.
“Even when you win you are asking your coach about what went wrong and you know you are back in the gym on Monday working to improve. The winning is a buzz but you are always looking ahead to ways to improve.”
Calderwood will look to extend a two-fight winning sequence at UFC 238 against Pennsylvania fighter Chookagian, two years her junior and with a professional MMA record of 11 wins and two defeats.
Calderwood (13-3) submitted Kalindra Faria in August last year before getting a decision win over Ariane Lipski at the start of 2019.
Now based in Las Vegas after spells in Canada and Australia, Calderwood feels a more complete fighter.
She added: “My performance and my potential have just come out. I was always a good fighter but, for parts of my career, I was having some ups and downs, I was winning and I was losing.
“Most of that was down to where I was in my life, I was getting a bit lost and still working out what I was looking for. I was looking for a good team, I was looking for a good girl training partner.
“Along the way, it’s not really been easy but I finally think I’ve now found my home. My environment’s good, my head’s in a good place and I’ve finally got everything I need to be a happy fighter and a dangerous fighter.”