I know there will be the flamers with the standard pu$$y comments but whatever.
That would be nonsense. Fear/apprehension is a completely natural reaction of your body/brain towards a situation that indicates danger. Fear is there to warn you from harm. Everybody without a defect feels fear to some extent, some just more and others less. If anybody calls you a pu$$y, because you feel fear before a fight, he is an idiot and probably has never been in a fighting situation. Even guys like Mike Tyson admitted to be scared before their fights.
It's not about having fear, but how you deal with your fear.
Most people don't like to get punched or get into a fight, some people do, I guess. But for those that don't and are into MMA how do you overcome that feeling, be it practice or the actual fight?
I'm asking because I want to try the sport more to learn the self defense and gain the confidence. Not to just start fights but to be prepared if they happen.
Actually I think NOBODY really likes to get punched (BDSM stuff aside). The difference between people is rather that some people get more motivated to fight back when they get punched and others get more timid. From what I've seen over the years with lots of beginners that started martial arts and combat sport and stayed for a couple of years, it seems to me there is probably a genetic or early childhood conditioning factor. Training can definitely help you to compensate the timidity to some extend, but from what I've seen, those people that didn't turn out to be the "motivated by punches"-type after a couple of weeks after starting (after a normal "just not familiar with being punched"-timidity in the beginning), but still reacted bad would eventually learn to react better, but never as good as those that obviously were the "get motivated"-types.
So if you haven't been in a fight yet or at least in hard full contact sparring, it's hard to say what type of guy you tend to be. But no matter to which category you belong, you can improve the way you react and the way you deal with your fear with: practice. The more you're used to it, the less problems you will have with it. You should spar as intense as you can sustain, not more. Communicate that to your sparring partners. Spar at that intensity for a while and then eventually raise the intensity a bit. At first you will feel uncomfortable, but if it's only a little bit above your comfort level it will help you to get used to it and you will feel good afterwards, because you will feel it as a success to have left your comfort zone. And in that way you go on. Stay at an intensity level for a while until you feel comfortable with it, then eventually make it a little more intense.