View Full Version : What makes a great mma fighter

02-23-2009, 12:56 PM
I say that a fighter must conquer two areas, what I mean is that he must actually acquire freedom from them! But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s first look at what these areas are. There are only two: Conformity and Morality. While every fighter, at the beginning of his training, learns to adhere to these two pillars of fighting, it is ironic that these very same pillars, later on, contribute to that same fighter’s downfall. Why? Because the fighter no longer thinks for himself. He becomes an automaton, simply obeying an inner mechanism which had been preset long ago by his tutors, coaches, dojo-masters, etc. When, in order to gain the respect of his teammates and masters, as well as avoid disqualifications, a fighter restrains himself to stand out, perform questionable moves, talk and act in an insane manner and fail to follow his better judgment, the fighter receives a mixed blessing… Whilst amassing respect he sacrifices spontaneity and genuineness inside the ring. And it is this very spontaneity and genuineness inside the ring that separates a great fighter, a fighter who can improvise, from a merely decent fighter. Let’s now take a separate look at these two areas.

A fighter is taught, from the time he puts on a gi, to think, act and behave in the ways which are sanctioned by his group. A judoka is taught to bow every 15 seconds or so (the research on the exact time frame is still inconclusive), a wrestler is taught that water is his enemy, and a BJJ fighter is told that scooting on one’s behind while your opponent is calling for you to stand up and fight is the key to victory. However, truly great fighters are able to break these bonds and not be subjected to the automatic impulses that take over most fighters during the fight. A great example is Igor Vovchanchyn, one of the legends of the sport. Being a Sambo fighter, Igor was taught from an early age to take the fight to the ground and go for ankle locks. We can still hear Oleg Taktarov, another Sambo standout, yelling into the microphone at the UFC 5: “Unkle Loks! Legs Loks! Nee bloks! Nobuddy in Amerika noes dis stuff!!” It is what a Sambo fighter is conditioned to do – go for that ankle as soon as you enter the ring. However, conformity is a double-edged sword, as we saw poor Oleg receive some of the most brutal beatings later in his career. When he saw Gary Goodridge’s ankle, he failed to also see his right hand which knocked him into the next week. Why? Conditioned to pay attention to the ankle. However, Igor Vovchanchyn was able to break away from this conformity. Recently retired, and having his own bakery, I phoned Igor and asked him how he was so successful in breaking away from Sambo conformity.
Me: “Igor, you were a Sambo fighter… how did you get the idea of punching people in the head?”
Igor: “Actually, I was primarily a kick boxer, but I knew some Sambo.”
Me: “Yes, but Sambo fighters are conditioned to attack the legs. Hitting is prohibited. How did you manage to break away from these rules once you entered MMA?”
Igor: “Striking is legal in MMA. I was never a great grappler, so it fell perfectly into place. I’m not quite sure what you are getting at…”
Me: “Indeed. So, you are saying that if it wasn’t for Sambo and the horrible restraints that it put onto your warrior psyche, you would have won the first Pride OWGP?
Igor: “No, that is not what I’m saying at all.”
Me: “Nonetheless, you made it to the finals, which means that most of the chains imposed by Sambo you were able to break.”
Igor: “This interview is over.”
Me: “Thank you taking the time out of your busy baking schedule to talk to us.”
So, we can clearly see the power that a fighter can acquire by simply refusing to conform to the standards of his past training. Igor will forever stand as the testament to this rule: a fighter who, despite knowing nothing but an outdated Russian military self-defense, made it to the top by incorporating some minor variations to his arsenal, most notably that big right hand that knocked out so many of his opponents who, petrified by the prospect of ankle attacks, completely forgot about it.

A fighter is taught to act in a respectful and ethical manner towards his opponent during a fight. Depending on the dojo, he is taught utilitarianism, deontology, intuitionism, theology, etc. And sure, this works in the beginning when winning isn’t so important and not a lot of money is involved. However, later, at the world stage, such as what was PRIDE FC, a fighter cannot afford to be moral inside the ring. An excellent example of a fighter who transcended this area is CroCop. Otherwise a very limited fighter, CroCop was able to win the OWGP because he was able to gain freedom from morality inside the ring. I have written numerous articles on CroCop’s immorality in the past – from using his opponents’ moves against them (such as hip tossing Aleks Emelianenko) to the equally repugnant left high kicks which would arrive at the exact time when his opponents wouldn’t expect them (Coincidence in timing? Hardly…). While he will never be known for having any decent skill, Mui Thai or otherwise, CroCop’s place in history is secured. He will forever stand out as the man who fully utilized immorality in order to gain an advantage inside the ring, and for that the new generations of fighters have much to owe him. Here is a small excerpt from a Vecernji List interview with CroCop from last September where he talks about morality and MMA:
“Being in the parliament was a great experience, but I am done with that. I wish to return to fighting – it is what I was born to do.”
What he is basically saying there is that Kant, Kierkegaard, Mill, etc. are great reads for when you need to impress the fellow parliament members, for when it comes to MMA, these teachings do nothing but stifle one’s creative fighting potential. Wise words from a parliament member who didn’t bring about a single change for the people who voted for him.

It is now crystal clear that a fighter, no matter how skillful, iron-willed, or possessing a great heart, cannot become a great fighter unless he thinks and acts outside the box. While conformity and morality provide a safe refuge for fighters (for they are conditioned in this way, and there is a good reason for this), they also serve as the greatest stiflers of spontaneity and genuineness – and these qualities make a good fighter into a great fighter. Fedor Emelianenko is not a very skillful fighter. His strikes are hardly threatening, his ground game is years behind that of Nogueira, and sometimes you get the impression that his jaw is made of fine glass (see the Fujita fight). However, Fedor more than makes up for these deficits by always displaying a very spontaneous and genuine MMA game inside the ring. This means complete freedom from conformity and morality. Like Igor, he often neglects the opponents’ ankles and goes for the KO (see the Goodridge fight). Like CroCop, he ignores the ethical aspects of the sport and even takes the game to another level – by outright breaking the rules and doing whatever is necessary to win (see the rope-grabbing in the Lindland fight). In one phrase, Fedor is a Renaissance man, a free man. A man who can step into the ring and say NO to grappling and NO to sportsmanlike behavior. No wonder he is the greatest champion in MMA that ever lived.
I cannot tell you how happy I was when Fedor decided to return my phone call for an interview.
Me: “Congratulations on being the best.”
Fedor: “Thank you.”
Me: “Tell us something that everyone wants to know: When it is fight time, how do you manage to completely get Kant’s Categorical Imperative out of your mind? It seems that it has never bothered you, whether you’re fighting in Pride or any other organization.”
Fedor: “Excuse me?”
Me: “Deontology… the idea of duty and acting in a way that fulfills your duty, such as obeying the rules and not grabbing ropes. How did you manage to get around that in your fight with Lindland?”
Fedor: “The rope grabbing was momentary and instinctive, and hardly a foul. It did not, or would not have influenced the fight in any way.”
Me: “Even the fact that you still claim you did nothing wrong proves the fact that you not only live immoraliy inside the ring, but also outside it. You truly breathe this stuff. But, do you have any trouble sleeping at night?”
Fedor hung up after this, proving once again why he is the best. Why? Free from conformity and morality, the two main reasons for the downfalls of any MMA fighter.

02-23-2009, 01:18 PM
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Soda Popinski
02-23-2009, 03:13 PM
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Agree with everything but Shogun's gas tank. Maybe that pic is kinda old. I'd sub that with Sherk's gas tank. Dude couldn't get tired if he tried.

03-17-2009, 07:32 AM
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looks a lot like that guy who KOed cro-cop with a head kick.. forgot his name.

all i know is if i saw that THING in the street i would not fight it

Mr. Beelzebub
03-17-2009, 01:43 PM
Saku's ears are pretty as baby cabbages, but they bleed easily.
I would add Mark Hunt's ass cheeks for the trademark atomic butt drop.

03-17-2009, 10:28 PM
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03-17-2009, 11:45 PM
Arona put a serious whoopin on Saku. But to be fair Saku was done 2 years prior when he met Wanderlei for a 3rd and (very painful) final time.