Chris Weidman delivering a knockout blow to the chin of Anderson Silva
One of the most talked about aspects of MMA, the chin. What this refers to, is how well a fighter can take a strike to the head. If you are weak chinned, you get dropped or knocked out easily, if you have a strong chin, it’s hard to knock you out.
What I’d like to explore is this idea, as, in a lot of cases, you can’t measure a persons chin, it’s not a muscle you can build, or a reflex you can work on. You’re either born with a good chin, or you’re not, although there is a problem in this, in that although you can’t add to your chin, you can certainly take away from it. After taking punishment to the head over time, as fighters have more MMA, kickboxing, boxing etc experience, their ability to take punishment gets worse. Basically, a knockout occurs when your head is impacted so hard that the brain is mushed around the head, so badly, that it decides to temporarily ‘shut down’ in order to avoid further damage. It’s a safety switch. The more often this happens, the more ‘used’ to shutting down the brain gets and does it quicker, therefore losing your ability to take punishment, and affecting your chin. We’ve seen this happen hundreds of times, Chuck Liddell was knocked out by Rashad Evans with a punch that he could have probably stumbled through in his prior years, same goes for Forrest Griffin with Anderson Silva, and now we’re seeing it happen with Anderson Silva since his knockout from Chris Weidman.
Which brings me to last Saturdays UFC (201) we saw Tyron Woodley knockout Robbie Lawler, now, n his past four fights Lawler has been in five round wars, and he has been adored for it, spilling nothing but blood and guts throughout all of the fights, a real fighters fighter, but as his next fights were announced, we all questioned, has he taken enough punishment, can he withstand anymore. Had anybody else in the world knocked him out last night and I would have said that it looks the case, and Lawler may never be the same again, but Tyron Woodley is such an athletic freak, that it seems he can knock anybody out on the planet, due to the way he can cover distance in such a short space of time, that I’m willing to think he is just such a specimen that even Lawler couldn’t hold up to his efforts. A rematch would be very interesting, should it be granted!
Tyron Woodley delivering THAT punch to Robbie Lawler
So, how do you know if you have a good chin or a bad chin? Can it be tested? Well, without donning some 8oz gloves and heading to your nearest MMA gym, there isn’ much way to know. A lot of gyms, after research on head trauma and films like ‘Concussion’ coming out, are starting to lesser their sparring, in order to lessen head damage taken in the gym, to make room for more in the actual fights. There are things you can do to help your chin, though, but it will never get better than what you were born with.
Rolling with punches is one way to deal with head trauma in a fight, What this refers too, is staying loose and moving your head in the direction of the punch, steering into the problem if you will, moving your head slightly before the punch connects in the direction the punch is going, and keeping it going that way after. There’s research to show having a stronger neck also helps, as this can stop your head snapping quicker than someone with a weaker neck.
Thing is, though, no matter how hard you roll with a punch, or build your neck muscles up, someone out there, somewhere, will probably have the power to put the lights out. Hence what happened last night, even someone with a chin regarded as Granite, can get the lights shut out on them. I just hope that as I mentioned earlier, it’s due to Woodleys freak athleticism, not so much Lawler losing his ability to take punishment, as some of his fights have been absolute classics, some of my most recent favourites to watch. What saddens me, though, is that I know, that eventually, his chin will go, time waits for no man, and it is no more apparent in MMA that people age.
Even the iceman went down eventually
I’ve had my fair share of dizzy spells in the gym from sparring, and more often that not have headed home with headaches. Concerning signs, and not from my teammates going too hard either, almost everyone I’ve ever sparred with have been respectful and stayed at my power or pace, I still consider myself very much a novice, and many of the guys I spar have been or are MMA fighters, but, I love the sport, I love finding out which techniques work and how I react under pressure, and how good my defence is (pretty poor, it seems) and that love for it, for now, overtakes those headaches.