Can TUF 8 Finalist Phillipe Nover Get His Career on Track at UFC 109?

Joe SchaferCorrespondent IJanuary 27, 2010

Ultimate Fighter season eight finalist, Phillipe Nover, is a self-professed student of his own conflicted philosophy, a dichotomy of superhero proportions—a registered nurse by day and a professional mixed martial artist by night. 

A Clark Kent of sorts, one who could slap an arm-bar on Lex Luthor, hyperextend the elbow, save the world, and then personally prescribe medical advice, sending his nemesis to the nearest hospital for a MRI to check for ligament damage.

“There’s a yin yang balance in what I do, it’s weird.  But I’ve always enjoyed the human body,” the 25-year-old Nover explained to Bleacher Report. 

He added that the anatomic love affair was evident during school when he would study subjects like anatomy and physiology but was brought full circle when his knowledge of martial arts progressed under instructors Ralph Mitchell, founder of Universal Defense Systems, and renowned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner Alexander “Soca” Freitas.

Being part of the medical world and working once a week as a nurse, every Sunday at Methodist Hospital in Coney Island, has its obvious benefits in the fight world, for Nover and occasionally his opponents. 

“I remember fighting someone awhile back, and I hurt him pretty bad.  After the fight, he asked me what he needed to do to heal up and what he should do about training,” mused the Brooklyn native.

The ninja nurse proceeded to tell his defeated opponent to take a break from training, get a CAT scan, and schedule an appointment with a urologist. Talk about respect and sportsmanship. The advice is not exclusively for his foes; Nover recalls many times when he had to call upon his hospital contacts to get quick treatments—from the slough of specialists at his disposal—for injuries sustained from competing.  

Aside from patching up normal wear and tear, Nover tapped into those medical experts after fainting the day of his bout with Sam Stout at Ultimate Fight Night 19 in September; a re-occurrence of an incident similar to the one that took place during the taping of the first episode of Ultimate Fighter season eight when he passed out as Dana White was announcing the coaches.

The nickname “Fainting Phillipe” was born.

After the Sam Stout fight got cancelled at Ultimate Fight Night 19, Nover was slated a clean bill of health after seeing numerous doctors and being run through a gamut of tests. Though the cause of the fainting is unclear, the young BJJ black belt is very confident, with the correct precautions being taken, that the infamous nickname will be temporary because he does not foresee blacking out as an ongoing issue.

“I saw a lot of specialists. It could have been a combination of anxiety, pressure, and cutting weight,” Nover posed. Nover, who used to cut a good amount of weight, had a bad habit of gorging himself once he was finished with weigh-ins. 

“I have a nutritionist and people working to help with the situation now. It probably had a lot to do with the weight I was cutting from. Now I’m walking around at a lighter weight, around six or seven pounds about 155. I don’t think that [fainting] will ever happen again, I’m 100 percent sure I will never faint again.”

The half-Filipino fighter and his team have even gone to such lengths as simulating the rigors and pressures of a weigh-in followed by a fight in order to prevent any unforeseen health issues. 

“I just had a mock weigh-cut recently. Everything went really well, and then I sparred the next day like it was a fight. Everything went perfect—I didn’t feel dizzy, and my conditioning felt great,” Nover reassured Bleacher Report earlier this week.

He also later explained that most of the pressure stemmed from UFC maestro Dana White calling him a young George St-Pierre on the reality show and the added expectations of success that followed. 

“I didn’t handle the pressure well. I started buying into the hype, especially before my fight with Efrain [Escudero],” explained Nover. “I was the favorite to win the show. I thought I would go in there and knock Efrain’s head off. In the end, I didn’t respect his wrestling.

“You learn ten times more about yourself as a fighter after a loss than you do from winning,” added Nover.

The most important byproduct of all obstacles in life is the enriching lessons learned that prevent us from being a repeated victim. Common but true—Experience is gold. Nover, in true martial arts spirit, has evolved, along with the essence of the sport, as a young fighter learning from his mistakes. 

“I’m channeling the pressure correctly now. Not thinking about it, staying positive, and enjoying myself. I don’t let myself think about losing or peoples’ expectations because my main goal, from here on out, is to have fun doing what I’m passionate about,” Nover discussed. “Once me and Rob are in the cage, it’ll just be another sparring session, like any other training day.”

The motivated Nover (6-2) was alluding to his next opponent, Rob Emerson (8-8), who he fights on Feb. 6th at UFC 109. Each fighter is looking to break his respective two-fight losing streak in hopes of a spot in the lightweight pecking order and to avoid the dreaded third consecutive loss—usually a precursor to a fighter getting his “walking” papers.

Nover lost a decision to Efrain Escudero at the Ultimate Fighter 8 finale and suffered a controversial first-round stoppage loss to Kyle Bradley at UFC 98. Emerson, on the other hand, dropped a unanimous to Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 103 and got submitted via rear-naked choke by Kurt Pellegrino at Ultimate Fight Night: Lauzon vs. Stephens. 

Both young men will be fighting for experience, respect, and, more importantly, a job.  Nover’s newfound approach to handling pressure will surely be tested when he and Rob trade blows in the octagon to secure a future in the company. 

Despite recently discovering his love for wrestling, Nover expects the fight to stay standing. “Rob is similar to Bradley. He’ll want to throw down and keep it standing. He has decent takedown defense, but I’m confident in my Muay Thai, BJJ, and now wrestling. We’ll probably end up standing and banging.”

Even though the future is uncertain for the fighter who draws the short end of the stick during this bout, Nover—who holds the sport of MMA so close to his heart, proclaiming it got him through boyhood, manhood, and now warrior-hood—is poised to make his bout with Emerson a launching pad into a great year that sees him competing four times and fulfilling a dream by fighting in New York and the Philippines, which could take place in 2010.