After a rare setback in competition, Sovannahry “The Sweet Savage” Em is focused on getting herself back on track inside the Circle.
That extended the Cambodian-American’s undefeated record and kept her perfect 100 percent finishing rate intact.
“I was dealing with some anxiety and nervousness, and even fear. You know all that comes from a lack of confidence,” she says.
“I think from winning all my previous matches within the first round pretty decisively, I think it went to my head quite a lot. That loss was exactly what the doctor ordered just to kind of keep my swollen ego in check.”
Humbled, Em began the process of getting back to her best.
She immediately hired a sports psychologist to strengthen her mental game while continuing to develop her all-around skill set. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and restrictions forced changes to her daily regimen – changes that turned out to be beneficial.
“COVID has been a crazy time for everybody. But for me, I feel like it’s been kind of like a blessing for my training for my career as a martial artist,” the 28-year-old says.
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Without the ability to work out in her gym on a daily basis, Em and her coach, Justen Hamilton from Modern Martial Arts and Fitness, used the time away to break down film and analyze a variety of techniques.
Those sessions ultimately gave Em a new perspective on how she could progress as a martial artist.
“I thought being a fighter, you train by being in the gym, putting the time in, and sweating on the mat,” she says. “I’ve never taken more of a scientific – I guess, analytical – approach to fighting. It just never occurred to me to make that crossover.”
With that renewed outlook, “The Sweet Savage” has turned her attention to the matchup with Choi, a tall South Korean athlete who excels in the stand-up department.
The California resident is armed with a strong understanding of her opponent’s skill set, and she is determined to bring the fight away from Choi’s preferred area.
“I don’t want to give her any chances to utilize her kickboxing game, so I’m going to do my best to close that distance to stuff her main weapon,” Em says.
“I’m going to turn it into a grappling match. I don’t think she’s very strong against the cage, and I’m going to work to look for my strikes from there. If I can see another TKO opportunity, I’ll take it. Otherwise, I’ll also be looking for a submission.”
It’s clear that ONE: UNBREAKABLE II won’t just be a chance for Em to get back in the win column – it’s an opportunity to prove that her renewed mindset and training methods can propel her to big things on the global stage.