Rick Story got back to his winning ways with a lopsided victory over Brock Jardine at UFC on FX 4 this past Friday.
But even after his dominant decision, the 27-year-old Story left Atlantic City, N.J., wanting more.
"I hold myself to high standards," Story (14-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "I'd rate it about (A-minus, B-plus). I don't want to fall in the category of one of those guys that just ride out wins."
While Story's workman-like victory over the UFC newcomer never really was in doubt, the Washington native said he would have preferred a finish.
"I didn't want to get too excited for the finish and then get clipped with something stupid," said Story, who snapped his two-fight losing streak and added a little job security with his Zuffa employer. "I just played it a little more conservative than I normally would."
But Story – who had notched six consecutive UFC wins, including victories over top welterweight contender Johny Hendricks and former title challenger Thiago Alves, prior to back-to-back decision losses to
Charlie Brennemanand Martin Kampmann— said he's learned a lot from his "roller-coaster ride" of a three-year UFC career.
"Those two losses that I had were really an eye-opener for me and helped me learn," he said. "I think it was just one of those situations where there was a lot on my plate and I didn't realize the effect it had on me mentally. It was almost like an overload.
"Trying to regain the momentum after that Brenneman fight was something I needed to sit back and learn from rather than go ahead and take on the next biggest thing as soon as I could. But I learned to look at it from a different perspective: (to not worry) about how I see myself fighting and what people expect of me, to just focus on what I need to do (in the octagon) rather than worry about all the outside factors."
Story's newfound attitude and attention to detail in the cage led to a bit of a critique of himself after his victory over Jardine.
"As far as the exchanges went, I had good head movement and got in, but then I would let Brock balance out and move away from the exchanges," Story said. "I could have just pressured a little more – that way I didn't have to work as hard to stay inside and land more shots.
"Obviously staying in and not taking shots and making people miss are something that we're constantly working on. I wanted to stay in and hit him a couple more times than I did."
But Story said he was pleased with his conditioning and believed he peaked inside the cage against Jardine, compared to running out of gas in his previous two setbacks.
"It's probably the worst feeling you can feel in fight, especially if you're down on scorecards," he said. "I felt that way against Kampmann in the third round. I was pretty tired and tweaked my knee. It's pretty helpless. You definitely want to go back and make sure it doesn't happen again."
But even with all the training he's done his near 20-fight career, Story said peaking at the right time can still be a bit of an inexact science.
"It's a matter of not really the willingness to do it, cause that's always there," Story said. "Your muscles just don’t have the proper nutrients, blood supply or oxygen to do it. As far as doing it in practice, I do it all the time.
"Sometimes in the fight, people blow their load early, they just don't have it or can never hit that next gear. Just getting that timing down where you peak on fight night is the biggest deal."