ST. ANTHONY, Minn. – After posting an astounding 156-0 record in his collegiate wrestling career, it's clear that Marcus LeVesseur (21-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) isn't exactly familiar with the concept of losing.
Yet when the 30-year-old made his UFC debut this past May, he was unceremoniously submitted by Cody McKenzie.
On Friday night, LeVesseur gets a chance to put that all behind him, and he gets to do it front of his hometown crowd. "The Prospect" knows what lies ahead, and he doesn't see the task as anything less than the most important fight of his life.
To be fair, LeVesseur didn't necessarily have a bad performance in his octagon debut. To the contrary, he nailed a few powerful takedowns and was controlling the action from top position before ultimately falling prey to McKenzie's patented guillotine choke. LeVesseur admits it was a valuable learning experience.
"You just try to take any positives that you can from it," LeVesseur said. "I think what I took from that was that even though your mind is working, your body needs to follow. He had his choke locked, and I felt safe. My mind was thinking, but my bod wasn't moving. I kind of froze, physically. It's just about fine-tuning those and learning to adapt at the time it's necessary and needed.
"Last time, I didn't adapt my body. Mentally, I was ahead of the game, but my neck was in a choke. I just have to keep moving and stick to the gameplan."
Despite an extensive amateur wrestling career and 27 professional MMA contests under his belt, LeVesseur admits the breach in focus ultimately boiled down to a case of the infamous octagon jitters.
"I thought I had it all bottled up,' LeVesseur said. "The mental focus was sharp. Everything was money. I get in there, and the ref says, 'Are you ready? Let's fight,' and I felt like I was ice skating. I didn't know what the heck was going on. But I'm glad that I got that over with. I'm looking forward to a way better performance my second time around."
LeVesseur now gets that chance at Friday's UFC on FX 5 event, which takes place at Minneapolis' Target Center. LeVesseur meets Carlo Prater (30-11-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) on the evening's Facebook-streamed preliminary card prior to additional bouts on FX and FUEL TV.
It will be a special experience for LeVesseur, who will fight in front of his hometown crowd.
"I've had a a lot of ticket requests," LeVesseur said with a laugh. "I send them all to TargetCenter.com or Ticketmaster. But it's going to be a good showing. Obviously I'm fighting in my hometown. I've fought several times here, just not with the UFC. I'm looking forward to it. I'm pumped. My weight's good. My body is fresh and sharp. I'm just ready to go.
"Carlo is a tough cat. He's well-rounded. On the ground, he's a shark, but we have a gameplan to attack his strengths and weaknesses. But I can't say nothing bad about the dude. He's top of the line. He's a tough fighter, and it's going to be a good challenge."
But it's a challenge LeVesseur yearns to meet. The octagon jitters should be a thing of the past. He'll have his hometown crowd behind him. He's learned the lessons provided by defeat, and he's ready to regain the form of an undefeated champion.
It all starts on Friday night.
"Right now, there's one priority, and that's the fight against Carlo," LeVesseur said. "It's a must-win for me and my career.
"This is the biggest fight of my whole entire life right now. My hometown, my backyard, UFC – the highest level. It's go time."