MELBOURNE, Australia – Working his way through the Australian circuit as a young fighter, Shane Young thought the answer was the UFC.
There, he would make the kind of money that would set him up for life. He’d also be famous, a nice change when you’re fighting in front of a few hundred people.
Then Young actually got a taste of what success looked like in the UFC. It didn’t have the effect he predicted.
“I basically started crying randomly,” Young, who on Saturday meets Austin Arnet at UFC 234, told MMAjunkie.
Young (12-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was just removed from a knockout win in his second UFC fight. He was $50,000 richer courtesy of a “Performance of the Night” bonus. And people recognized him back at home in Napier, a relatively small port town in New Zealand.
Depression had crept up slowly. There were things that pushed it forward, like the breakup of his marriage. The more he pushed it down, however, the more it grew, until he found himself unable to control his emotions.
“It’s like an injury, and if you’re like, ‘I’ll just keep training’… it’s like, mentally, I had an injury,” said Young, whose fight with Arnett (16-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) is on the ESPN-televised prelims of the pay-per-view event at Rod Laver Arena.
Fighting was the last thing on Young’s mind in late 2018. He figured he’d quit the sport and do something else. He’d try to heal along the way.
As hollow as fame felt, it might have helped him snap out of his funk. When he went out in Napier, a town he calls “the hood, but … a beautiful place,” he was recognized by kids who are Maori, the indigengous Polynesians of New Zealand. They thought he was a hero.
Young realized he had something to fight for.
“I had to push it to that brink to really make myself believe that this is why I want to do it,” he said.
Now the 25-year-old Kiwi said his mission is to spread a positive message and to promote the Maori culture, which encourages a life more connected to the earth. Only a return home brought into focus what he couldn’t find halfway around the world in the octagon.
“You’ve just got to listen to that voice inside yourself, and for me, that voice was a dark voice for a period of time,” Young said. “That’s why I had to take that time off.”
To hear more from Young, watch the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: How octagon success led to depression for UFC 234's Shane Young