In November, Jinh Yu Frey suffered her quickest defeat to date, losing by knockout 47 seconds into round one against Polyana Viana.
A defeat in that fashion can not only leave a fighter with physical damage, but also the emotional kind. Frey, however, didn’t sulk about the loss for too long. Back home, Frey spent valuable time with her family during the holidays and recharged her batteries ahead of 2023.
This time around, fight camp looked similar, but felt completely different. While continuing the same usual protocols that help Frey be at her physical peak by fight night, the energy and attitude in the gym was unlike ever before.
“I think this fight camp, surprisingly, felt like there was less weight [on me],” Frey said. “It was more about having fun and enjoying myself, enjoying the process, enjoying the ride and enjoying each day being present versus the pressure of like, ‘Oh my God, I need to make up for the last time. I have to go out there and do this and that.’ It was just more about enjoying what I do every day.”
“I think it was something that just manifested over the course of the camp. I actually thought that I might feel a lot of pressure during the camp, and I really didn’t.”
Frey said she felt free and that she was able to implement a more creative approach to training. While usually running through the motions of doing every drill perfectly, Frey experimented with new techniques which, in turn, made it a more enjoyable and effective camp.
The biggest reason for this change in approach was Frey’s realization that she doesn’t fight because she has to, but because she wants to.
“I’m doing this because I enjoy it,” Frey said. “I have three college degrees. This isn’t something that I have to do; I do this because I choose to, and I enjoy it.”
In addition to enjoying the entire process of training camp, Frey planned a trip with her husband for after the fight, which lets Frey know that no matter what happens in the fight, she has a wonderful trip planned afterwards that she can look forward to.
“We have a big trip scheduled a month or two after the fight,” Frey said. “Usually after each fight my husband and I would pick a country and we’d travel and go off in the wilderness and disappear for a while. During the pandemic we couldn’t go anywhere, so now that things are easing up, we’re getting back to being able to plan something ahead of time. I work really hard through camp. I get through the camp and then I have something at the end to look forward to and relax and unwind.
“We’re doing a section of the E5, it’s a trek through the Alps. It starts in Germany and ends in Italy so it’s just straight up and down through the mountains.”
So now with the weight of her previous loss completely off her shoulders, Frey returns to the Octagon this Saturday to challenge Elise Reed at UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi. Feeling like she never got the chance to show fans what she’d been working on in her last fight, Frey’s eager to showcase all the skills she’s developed over the last seven months.
“I’ve been working hard,” Frey said. “I worked hard this camp, and I didn’t get a chance to show it, but I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvements and I’m super motivated to go in there and get my hand raised. I think it’s a great matchup for me and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Like training camp, Frey hasn’t set any strict guidelines to how she must fight, nor has she set any personal goals that she needs to hit in the fight. As she gets older, Frey believes there’s no reason to add any unnecessary pressure toward something that she just simply enjoys doing.
Frey’s certainly studied Reed, though, and knows everything that she must look out for in the fight. Despite having a karate base, Frey doesn’t expect to see anything from Reed that she hasn’t seen before.
“Stylistically, I haven’t really faced someone whose background is predominantly karate,” Frey said. “I know that she’s going to be light on her feet and be able to close distance and dart in and out pretty quickly. She’ll probably have pretty fast hands. That’s something a little bit different that we had to look at and try to break down during this camp but, beyond that, this is my 20th professional fight; I feel like I’ve seen just about everything.”
UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 3, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!