How Cage Warriors 106's Nicolas Dalby is fighting back from depression

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A few years ago, Danish welterweight Nicolas Dalby was one of the more quirky characters on the UFC’s European roster. With his outlandish fight-week onesies and his sunny disposition, Dalby (17-3-1 MMA, 5-1 CW) was often a friendly and familiar face when the UFC pitched their octagon on European soil.

But, during that period of his career, Dalby was also fighting a running battle with depression. He just wasn’t fully aware of it at the time.

“I went in to fight Darren Till (at UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin) and I was leaving the locker room on the way down the arena, and on my walk, I felt like sitting down and crying,” he told MMA Junkie. “At the time I didn’t know what was wrong, but something was not right.

“I think after the Till fight (a thrilling come-from-behind draw, thanks to a 10-8 final round), instead of maybe taking time out and finding out what was wrong, there was so much hype and attention and momentum that I couldn’t take a small break and find out what was wrong. So I just kept going and, in the end, I crashed for real.”

Dalby was in the midst of a bout of depression that looked set to derail his career as he fell to three successive defeats in fights he believes he could have won. It led to his release from the UFC and left him assessing his next move.

“I just didn’t have my mojo,” he explained. “Fighting is a physical sport, of course, but it’s an even more demanding sport mentally.  It doesn’t matter if you’re there 100 percent physically unless you are 100 percent there mentally, too. So I found out I was suffering from depression and had some stuff I needed to sort out. I did that with a mental coach and a psychotherapist, and now I’m here.

“Luckily I’m now aware of the signs of me going that way again, so by keeping in touch with my mental coach I can be in a good place 99% of the time. But I have my bad days – everyone does.”

Since getting help, the former Cage Warriors welterweight champion rediscovered his mojo and re-signed with his former promotion sporting a new nickname – ‘Sharpshooter’ has given way to ‘Lokomotivo’ – and a renewed motivation to succeed.

After the minor speed-bump of a split-decision loss in his return bout, the popular Dane reeled off a hat trick of stoppage wins. The third, a stunning fourth-round knockout of the dangerous former BAMMA welterweight champion Alex Lohore, saw the 34-year-old capture the Cage Warriors interim welterweight title and set up a title unification bout with defending champion, Scotland’s Ross Houston (8-0 MMA, 6-0 CW), at Cage Warriors 106 in London on Saturday night.

If Dalby is successful, his prize could be much more than the big gold belt that signifies his status as a Cage Warriors world champion. A suitably impressive victory could potentially see him offered a route back into the UFC. And with the organization set to host its first show in Dalby’s home city of Copenhagen on September 28, there can be no bigger motivation for the Dane to deliver in London on Saturday night.

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