Shane Young stood in the center of the octagon with his hand raised.
He had just beaten out Rolando Dy in their bout at UFC Fight Night Singapore in a performance that would earn him a US$50,000 performance bonus.
It was his first fight in the UFC with a full coaching camp under his belt, after doing his debut on extremely short notice in a decision loss against Australian Alexander Volkanovski.
But while the bright stars shone on the surface, underneath the 25-year-old featherweight was trying.Outside of the arena, he was dealing with the breakdown of a relationship and couldn’t find the joy in the sport he’d dedicated the past 10 years of his life to.
Shane Young will turn to the octagon at UFC 234 live online in Melbourne in February.
In September, Young requested to be stood down from his UFC responsibilities for the rest of the year and repeated home to Napier to center on his mental health and spend time with family.
As soon as I went back I thought I was done with the fight. Young tells the Herald on Sunday. I was like ‘I like this being back at the house with my family.
“We’re reducing a lot. Seeing forward- I’m not an intelligent man though I can read what intelligent men record and they say getting hit in the top isn’t a good thing. I’m knowingly running into that so what am I going into that for? I thought it was for fame also money, which I got a bit of back (Singapore) but I had become a bit resentful to the sport.
I thought f*** it, I’m moving to be done with this. Then after two days, I realized this was the reason why I even started (fighting) for the community that I come from to do something great.
A break away from the sport was simply something Young needed to have, and it wasn’t until he was able to get away that he was able to really face is struggles. Simply through exercise and kōrero, he found what he believes many other young men need to discover – that it is more than okay to talk to someone about personal struggles.
“The only way I got out of what I got out of was from talks and use to just really expose me to my feelings, not hide away from them, he says.
That’s the beauty of this game. I take the examination into real-time like ‘I got hit. That won’t hit me again it’s the same thing with life.
Shane Young earned a special bonus in his knockout win up Rolando Dy in Singapore. Refreshed and refocused, Young turned to train at Auckland’s City Kickboxing gym earlier this month and the Herald on Sunday can prove he will be returning to the octagon in February at UFC 234 live online.
Young will meet City Kickboxing teammates Israel Adesanya and Kai Kara France on the Melbourne card if he squares off against Western Austin Arnett (15-6; 1-2 UFC) watching to pick up where he left off.
The 25-year-old, who on Winter Day found out the bout had lasted confirmed, says it came at the whole time and, since taking time away, having a fight works feels like it did when he was 15 and just starting out.
“Me and Israel (Adesanya) talked about it, like how he’s fighting Anderson (Silva) – we were talking about this s* five years ago, driving in my s**y little car. We’re in similar circumstances, but now he’s fighting Anderson Silva and I’m fighting in the UFC as well. Back then we were going to China to beat up some dudes.
“I’m not looking past anyone, but I’ve got that same mentality as when I was young – it’s all me all the time; the opponent is never the key thing, it’s always just going to be me…just at the base of another mountain with the homies again.”
But it’s not just preparing for UFC 234 live online that has Young excited about the fight game again. He and fellow City Kickboxing fighter Dan Hooker have signed on as coaches for a charity boxing night early next year, with the event hosted to raise awareness about suicide.
For Young, it’s a cause that now hits close to home.
“I’ve learned it’s a lifelong process,” he says of overcoming personal struggles. “Some people just choose not to even walk it. I see it now, people wear these faces…young men wear certain masks to cope with s***.
“It’s awesome that I’ve go through it though, because I’m comfortable in that uncomfortable situation now.”
UFC 234 FIGHT MAIN CARD ( PPV ) 10 p.m. ET)
- Champ Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum – ( 185 lbs ) UFC 234 live online Co-Main Event )
- Israel Adesanya vs. Anderson Silva –( 185 lbs ) UFC 234 live online PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET )
- Ricky Simon vs. Rani Yahya –( 135 lbs ) UFC 234 live online ESPN Prelims Card (8 p.m. ET)
- “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim vs. Devonte Smith
- Jim Crute vs. Ryan Spann
PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)
- Austin Arnett vs. Shane Young
- Montana De La Rosa vs. Nadia Kassem
- Kai Kara-France vs. Raulian Paiva
- Teruto Ishihara vs. Kyung Ho Kang
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)
- Marcos Rosa vs. Lando Vannata
- Alex Gorgees vs. Jalin Turner
- Wuliji Buren vs. Jonathan Martinez
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