“It’s a fight! You’re not going in there to have a pose down with the guy, you’re going in there to kick his ass!”.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard my old trainer Don Hinzman shout those words during my years spent with him.
You see, Don is what a lot of people like to call old school. But that didn’t mean that he wasn’t right about anything pertaining to fighting 99.9% of the time. He’s just cut from a different cloth.
Hinzman was one of the animals that came up in Hollywood, California under the legendary Gene Lebell in the 80’s and 90’s. Don was given the nickname “Domino” by Lebell for his ability to knock his opponents down one by one. This is the same man that became famous in the streets of Tucson, Arizona before there was an “MMA” for never losing a fight, and trust me, Don fought more often than whatever total you may currently have in your head. So yeah, my trainer, he’s what a lot of people like to call old school.
I remember Don stressing the fact that fighting wasn’t all about having big blown up muscles when I expressed my frustration with not being able to get that clear cut six pack. I had been training forever, was as fit as could be, but my body would just get to a certain point and kind of stop wanting to get ripped no matter what I tried.
“Who gives a [expletive] about all that,” he would go on to tell me. “You’re six pack isn’t going to punch a guy in the face for you, it’s not going to make your chin any more solid and it sure as hell isn’t going to stop you from being strangled, now is it? What will make you a better fighter is the time you spend on this mat.”
It was a tough pill too swallow when there were other guys walking around the gym looking like life sized sculptures of The Incredible Hulk. Genetic freaks. I would take one look at them and convince myself that they would just man handle me all around the sweat soaked canvas given the opportunity. I learned really quickly during my years training with Don and the wrong side of the tracks savages from Hinzman’s MMA exactly what Don was talking about. He was right, MMA wasn’t bodybuilding.
“Those big puffed out muscles aren’t going to do anything but slow you down and make you tired. Muscles require oxygen to breathe,” he would tell me.
And he was right. Fighting is more about experience, nerves, technique and skill more than anything else. In my estimation fighting is about 90% mental and 10% physical.
Let me explain; The mental aspect of fighting is just so huge. If you don’t have the ability to deal with punishment, or shut down when being attacked, MMA is not for you. It takes a certain type of person to get hit and naturally want to hit back. It’s just a natural thing that is programmed into each and every one of us. There are some that are predators and some that are prey. It’s the way of the world.
There are pretty much two ways to react if someone was to walk up to you an punch you right in the face; You turn red with anger and go directly into ‘Hulk SMASH!’ mode without being able to stop yourself, or you try to figure out why this person just hit you and try to avoid being hit again. Everyone will say that they will hit back but only those that have been punched square on the jaw by surprise truly know how they would react in that situation.
Long story short, if you mentally shut down or turtle up when being attacked, MMA is the wrong sport for you. The mental part is HUGE.
On the other side of that coin you can be the greatest fighter in the world but if your diet consists of nothing but pizza and donuts, and your training consists of throwing your Australian Shepard in the occasional triangle choke, yeah, you’re not going to be able to implement any of that awesome technique because your body is weak and slow.
When you think of “The baddest man on the planet” most would envision a man ripped to the teeth with muscles on top of muscles. Probably like 300 pounds of pure muscle. I’m not referring to a guy like Brock Lesnar. Sure he’s big, but I’m talking like Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler status.
If you didn’t know who he was you would probably laugh if someone told you that Fedor Emelianenko was actually the worlds most lethal fighter.
Six foot even, 230 pounds and he bears a strong physical resemblance to myself to be quite honest, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. I have a couple framed pictures of Fedor hanging by my computer at home and several good friends have thought they were pictures of me for months.
Case in point; The current landscape of MMA’s heavyweight division. If you take a look at the top rated big men in the sport you will be hard pressed to find a future poster boy for “Ripped Fuel“.
We’ve already discussed Fedor, but what about men like Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Gabriel Gonzaga, Tim Sylvia and Brett Rogers. While far from overweight, none of these fighters are famous for their shredded physiques, more for the damage they are able to cause during physical combat.
Then you take a guy like Lesnar who is a complete physical specimen. Lesnar’s a giant but he’s far from musclebound. If Brock was overridden with muscles there’s no way that he would be as fast and explosive in the Octagon as he is today.
This previous Saturday there were a whole lot of people that felt as if Andrei Arlovski was going to add Brett Rogers to his highlight reel in what should have been an easy fight for the Belarusian. We all saw that things didn’t quite end up that way when Rogers proceeded to batter Andrei in mere seconds. While Arlovski’s record and experience against tougher competition could account for a great deal of the reasoning behind his favoritism going into the bout, a large amount of it surely came from the fact that Arlovski just looks like the guy from 300. He’s a gladiator poster boy in every sense of the word.
There’s something that many people fail to factor in when looking at fights sometimes. A certain factor that there’s no real way to put your finger on. I will call this the “Beast-Factor”. Rogers just had the “Beast-Factor” going into the fight with Arlovski. He’s 6’5″ and a natural 265 pounds. A natural 265 pounds! Anyone that has spent time in a gym training with larger men will be the first to tell you that size matters. Believe that. Besides that, Brett just hits like a Mac-Truck. I don’t care who you are, if Rogers puts one on your chin there will be “Grim” consequences.
Rogers just happens to be the latest in a series of the world most dangerous men that have validated the fact that fighting isn’t a bodybuilding competition.