When I competed in Sanshou, I wasn’t the flashiest of fighters, nor was I the best. There was a lot I could have done better but I did have a good guard. It saved my bacon numerous times, both on the lei tai and in training. Also, to the best of my recollection, I never taunted opponents like this guy does. I’ve seen this kind of thing many times and always have to chuckle. I’ll explain in a bit but first, take a look at how this cocky MMA fighter gets knocked out:
As you can see, he didn’t get to enjoy his cocky attitude for very long.
If you regularly watch MMA, muay Thai or boxing matches, you’ve no doubt seen this before: a guy gets hit, he make a big production out of not being hurt and then he eats leather while he’s putting on that show. I’m sure that guy has seen this backfire for other fighters before, it’s not anything new. So the question is then: why do fighters pull these antics?
There are a couple of reasons:
- To buy time to recover. If they just got hit hard, clowning around can confuse an opponent and make him hesitate instead of pressing his advantage. He buys a couple more seconds to stop the world from spinning all around him. As you noticed in this video, at first it works for that guy: his opponent stops punching after he connects and the antics begin. He seems hesitant at first, which is what the guy wants.
- They think they can take it. It always amazes me how fighters try to psych their opponents out with something they know isn’t true, believe their own hype and then pay for it like this guy did. The only opponents you impress with these antics are amateurs. Everybody else already knows that nobody is impervious to pain or injury. Nobody. Some people have a different tolerance to it than others but they all go down eventually. You just have to find the right way and keep going at it until they can’t take anymore. Do that long enough and they will go down. You’re only deluding yourself if you think you are the exception to this rule.
- To impress the judges. Judges are human too. They don’t always score a fight rationally, especially if they’re new to the job. When they see a guy getting clobbered, they tend to favor the other fighter. So making a spectacle of how you aren’t phased seems to make sense. Personally, I disagree because a competent judge will not be swayed too much by this. Given as it’s dangerous to clown around, I think it’s better to tough it out and let your fists and feet show you aren’t hurt.
- To impress your opponent. Beginning fighters usually don’t have a strong mindset in the ring or cage. It takes experience and training to develop that. So some of them are still impressed by such a display of arrogance: they just landed a solid shot and the guy seems to shrug it off. It’s easy to start doubting your own skills then. Once you do that, the other guy is in your head and can take the upper hand. Like I said, professionals usually know better. They have hurt and knocked people out so many times, they know the damage their techniques do. Then they recognize the bluster for what it is and move on with the fight.
- They can’t help themselves. Some people revert to primitive fighting once they get hit. All the training disappears and they act like a frat boy who’s beer just got spilled: chest puffing, arms down and to the side, hands open and chin forward. Precisely the behavior you see two seconds before this MMA fighter gets knocked out. This is the hallmark of the beginner, the rank amateur who doesn’t have control over his own mind when he fights.
- It’s a trap. Some fighters are actually good at this and they are the only ones who have some use for this showboating. They clown around and act all tough after they get hit but as soon as you move in to finish it, they nail you with a totally unexpected technique. Anderson Silva almost made a career out of this kind of stuff. Here’s the thing: you need to be exceptionally good to make this work consistently. Everybody can pull it off once in a while but if you plan on doing this a lot, then you need to be world-class level to get away with it. And even then… Here’s what happened to Anderson when he was cocky one too many times:
Nobody can say that Anderson Silva is a bad MMA fighter. You can argue that he isn’t the best but not that he isn’t one of the best out there. Yet he end up getting knocked out too because he acted out like this. So my point is that it’s a risky and eventually always a losing strategy. If it works for you, by all means go ahead and use it. That said, I teach my fighters the opposite: never show pain when you are hurt. Get your guard back up and make him pay for it.
It seems to work for them.