In talking last Friday with the UFC light heavyweight champion about his first title defense against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson this Saturday, I was curious to know what he's learned in the six months since becoming champion. Here's what he had to say:
“The biggest thing that I’m learning is to expect more from myself and to work harder, to work at a level to keep the belt. Now I’m competing against the No. 1 contender every time I fight. I have to push to different levels in order to keep the belt.
“I’ve also learned to be myself. Now that I’m the champ, I realize every little thing I say gets judged and criticized right away. That’s something I wasn’t sure about as I rose in my MMA career. Now I had to learn fast to be myself and not worry too much about how I’m portrayed.
“I want to be well-liked, and everyone wants to be well-liked. But I realize there’s a billion personalities and you just simply can’t impress everybody. Some people like heavy metal, and other people like techno or Mozart. You can’t please them all. So I’ve learned to be myself and have good intentions and let the rest take of itself.”