BC126: Brian Cain on Rutten and Ranallo | Cain Talks MMA Mindset with the UFC Hall of Famer

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

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, while working with Brian, overcame the worst thing that ever happened to him
  • The Big ABC’s and how they led to him finishing an IRONMAN
  • The 2 Tips that any person can do to maximize each day

Follow Rutten & Ranallo on Twitter @Rutten_Ranallo!


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 best-selling 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 things you have achieved and do like your IRONMAN, 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 to be 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 Apeldoorn.  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, Apeldoorn, 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 got 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 go.

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 want to know what Georges has 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 judokas.  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 privilege 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.  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 staredown. 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, I 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 be 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 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 other 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 #1 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 #1 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 ahead 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 IRONMAN, 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 1, 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 IRONMAN 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, “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.

#1 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 #2, 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 1,000 kicks; I’m afraid of the guy who knows one kick but practices it 1,000 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 Ranallo even here because he is the master at digging into the mind and asking questions.  Plus you would be very interested to dig in his crazy mind because he is something.  I already told you in an e-mail.

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.