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SAO PAULO – Coming into a fight in peak condition is great if you’re a fighter. But then again, it’s a pretty much a job requirement.

Mastering pre-fight jitters is a highly individual task, and whether or not a fighter is successful depends on many variables, some of which are uncontrollable.

As confident as UFC middleweight Jack Hermansson looks inside the octagon, he admits he still wrestles with anxiety. Heading into a fight, the same fears clutch at him.

“It’s the nerves before you go out,” Hermansson (16-3 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who faces Thiago “Marreta” Santos (15-5 MMA, 7-4 UFC) on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 119, told MMAjunkie. “I feel like it’s still in me when I’m in the octagon – too much.”

But after four fights, those fears don’t have the same hold.

“I think I’ve always had some challenges mentally, and I still have them,” he said. “But what makes me confident is that even though I’m feeling the anxiety, I’m able to perform.

“So I know that when I step up my mental game, I’ll be unbeatable. I think I still have some things to work on, but we’re getting there.”

For all his struggles behind the scenes, Hermansson is enjoying a moment of success in the UFC. He’s won his past two fights by TKO, and is 3-1 in the octagon. When newcomer Michal Materla dropped out of Saturday’s event at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, the promotion called him on short notice.

It’s the second time Hermansson has been called into hostile territory on short notice. But he feels better prepared to meet the challenge.

Hermansson now visualizes success on a regular basis to prepare his mind for the same outcome in the cage. He talks about his anxiety with fighters who are good at managing it

Still, he notes, he can never predict when his nerves might strike. So it’s a never-ending process.

“Hopefully, I’m going to get out there and be the best ever,” he said.

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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