Matt Hobar believes he didn't show his true self when stepped into the Ultimate Fighting Championship's famed octagon for the first time in May.
In his promotional debut, Hobar lasted a little less than three minutes before he knocked out by Pedro Munhoz at the The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The contest marked the first time Hobar had left the U.S. for a professional fight, and he had to do it on the heels of a career-long 10-month layoff.
In hindsight, Hobar admits he didn't feel at his best against Munhoz. He's reluctant to make excuses, but can easily pinpoint the long break between fights as the primary reason for his flat performance.
'I feel like (the layoff) had a huge effect on me for my fight in Brazil,' Hobar told USA TODAY Sports. 'I've always heard that term ring-rust, and I never knew what it meant, but when I got in there, I felt it. I feel like my brain wasn't firing like a fighter's brain should be.
'My punches weren't crisp, my power didn't feel as strong as it should be and my reactions in my defense definitely weren't as on point as it should be.'
The long trip to Brazil gave Hobar a lot of time to think and grow anxious about the fight. That anxiety grew resulted in the infamous 'UFC debut jitters,' a mental block which Hobar said hindered his ability to perform.
'The UFC nerves definitely exist,' Hobar said. 'Anyone who says they don't get them are either lying or trying to act tough. When you get to UFC, it's a whole different game.'
While the circumstances were all wrong for his UFC debut, Hobar feels the exact opposite as the days wind down to his sophomore appearance with the organization. For his second fight with the organization, he gets to compete at UFC Fight Night 49 in Tulsa, Okla., a city not far outside his home state of Texas.
Hobar (8-2 mixed martial arts, 0-1 UFC) meets Aaron Philips (5-1, 0-1) on Saturday's FOX Sports 2-televised preliminary card (7 p.m. CT) from the BOK Center prior to the main card, which airs on FOX Sports 1 (9 p.m. CT).
Instead of a 10-month break between fights, Hobar returns to competition just 11 weeks after his loss to Munhoz. The short gap between fights is welcomed, especially after how his UFC debut went down.
'This is way different,' Hobar said. 'The last one was in Brazil and it was the first one. The UFC nerves are done with and this one is a lot closer to home. I have all my friends and family there to support me, so it's going to be much better.'
Even though a fighter never wants to lose, Hobar said the experience of his UFC debut taught him a number of meaningful lessons. He now knows what it takes physically, emotionally and mentally to compete in the world's premier MMA organization. As a result, his confidence is sky high ahead of Saturday night.
'I think (losing my UFC debut) was probably the best thing that could happen to me,' Hobar said. 'I was kind of upset the way it went down and the way I lost, but I showed me where I need to take my level. I'm ready now.'