It's hard to imagine it now, but No. 2-ranked bantamweight contender Fabricio Andrade (8-2) was not always the cocksure knockout artist that we see today.
"Wonder Boy" has been the picture of confidence ahead of his ONE bantamweight world title challenge against John Lineker (35-9) at ONE on Prime Video 3, but there was a time when the outspoken Brazilian MMA fighter suffered with low self-esteem.
Though he'll walk to the ONE circle with his head held high at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Friday, there was a period when Andrade didn't believe he would amount to anything.
"The fact that I come from a very humble family, and I went through many difficulties, especially in my childhood (meant that I had low self-esteem)," the Brazilian said. "Until I started training, I didn't have a goal, and this messed with my head a lot. I wanted to do something different, and I couldn't."
The area of Fortaleza where Andrade grew up was dangerous, and there weren't many opportunities for young people in the region to leave and further themselves.
But when "Wonder Boy" found muay Thai at the age of 13, he knew this could be his ticket to a better life. The Brazilian quickly developed a true passion for the sport, and soon, it transformed him both physically and mentally.
"After training and competing in the amateurs for a while, I started to receive a lot of compliments," Andrade said. "People around me motivated and praised me, saying that I was good and that I could be a champion. I think these outside accolades started to change my mind.
"And my focus, which was very big, also started to help me a lot to elevate my self-esteem. Over the years, I also became more vain and more confident, and this increased."
Andrade's advice for elevating your self-esteem
When fans look at Andrade today, they see an athlete who's at the top of his game. The Brazilian now has the mental fortitude to finally match his physical prowess.
That change didn't happen overnight, though. Bit by bit, through his hard work in the gym and his success in the ring, "Wonder Boy" came to believe in himself – and that belief has catapulted him toward the upper echelon of ONE Championship's bantamweight division.
The Tiger Muay Thai product said:
"A lot of people think that I'm too confident, that I have a very high self-esteem. But it was time that made me reach the level of confidence I have today."
But Andrade doesn't think everybody has to go his route and become one of the greatest fighters on the planet to see a big difference in their outlook.
Instead, he thinks anybody can redirect their focus into something more positive to make changes that benefit their life – and usually, that's by looking inward, not outward.
"I think we have to forget about everything around us and focus only on ourselves, on what we want to improve," Andrade offered. "We are often not happy with what we are doing and the way we are living, so sometimes we need to stop and think about what we really want to do and focus on that.
"Over time, it is possible to increase this self-esteem. But it's not something that happens overnight. We are slowly building this, creating that trust. We need to focus, know what we want, and thus build confidence to be happy."
This story first published at ONEFC.com.