LAS VEGAS — On a table in Phillipe Nover’s hotel room rests a pair of yellow boxing gloves. On the desk sits his schedule for fight week and what his nutritionist calls a “meal” and what the Brooklyn resident calls a “snack.”
On the nightstand next to Nover’s bed is the book “The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive.”
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He’s read the book several times already, but the UFC featherweight still uses it to help him focus his energy and mind during fight week.
“Sometimes a competitor’s mind can be questioning everything and it can be overwhelming at times,” Nover said. “You read a few chapters, and you’ll be like, ‘Wait, this is all in my mind.’ ”
In the early days of his fighting career, Nover said he would think about his fight so much that he could barely leave his hotel room. Now, at 31, Nover’s figured out a few things as he prepares to fight Zubaira Tukhugov on Thursday at UFC Fight Night 80.
“You want to live your life the way you live in your training camp,” Nover said of fight week. “You don’t want to fall into this trap of anxiety and almost an obsession that it’s more than what it is.”
For Nover (12-5-1, 1-3 UFC), a Season 8 “Ultimate Fighter” finalist, this is his second fight as a featherweight and the second of his UFC return.
“This is a dream come true to be back,” he said. “At the time [December 2008-February 2010] I definitely wasn’t ready mentally or didn’t have the talent, and now I feel ready more than ever.”
In the five years between UFC stints, Nover fought in Bellator, Ring of Combat, Dakota FC and Hoosier FC.
But it was that year away from MMA in 2014 when Nover, a full-time registered nurse at Brooklyn Hospital, decided to drop from the 155-pound lightweight division to featherweight at 145 pounds.
“I came back to the gym and I saw all the guys I was training with, amateur and pro fighters, these guys who fight at 155 and I noticed how huge they were,” Nover said. “Just training with guys at 55, they’re tremendous. I definitely couldn’t fight at 55 anymore just because of the size of the competition.”