Infuse heart, soul, spirit, and passion, because talent is not enough – Dominick Cruz UFC207
When you fight for a living there are more fights the fans don’t see than they will ever know about. At this level of the game there are guys working around a few thousand fights. From grade school to the cage the journey of one thousand fights often starts in wrestling, jujitsu, kick boxing, boxing, judo, and the oriental arts of karate, taekwondo, or kung fu. Then as competitors age the have an extensive amateur career and few transitions into the professional ranks and put their records and legacy on the line.
For those who do have several fights a practice and exert everything, leaving it all on the mat. Rarely do you see high level fighters fighting out in the streets, not, because we can’t, but because it can lead to charges and loss of money. The controlled chaos of the gym is a safer environment to entertain the gods of war than the streets where people can get really hurt and resort to using weapons. So, if you choose the pathway of becoming a champion, keep it in the cage.
The hilarity of the show Dragonball Z is that some of the characters are Saiyan who get stronger after every battle. For some athletes this is true, but for mixed martial artists this is a reality. As you train, the repetition of movement, becomes subconscious over time because the body remembers the lack of pain by moving out of the way of contact or diverting damaging blows in a certain way or by the severity of a blow or movement that didn’t yield a solid result.
In an article titled The True Science Behind the “Sweet Science” in MMA author Dr. Paulie "Gloves" Gavoni declares that “Any discipline or training regimen that incorporates tried and true behavioral principles has a strong advantage over any opponent. Utilizing the properties of reinforcement (why certain behaviors occur more often) can lead to increases in strike accuracy, proper form, and reduce the effort put forth in a match,” and he goes on to further illustrate that “Sometimes reinforcement can be simple things like gestural feedback (e.g. a thumbs up after a fighter performs a specific skills), behavior specific feedback (e.g. “you did a nice job pivoting your back foot when you threw your cross”), or simply helping the fighter see the benefits of a certain skill (e.g. “did you notice you were hit less when you used your jab more”). Once fighters begin recognizing the benefits of using a certain skill, they will continue to use it, even in the absence of coaching. We call this type of reinforcement naturally occurring reinforcement,” (2016).
The opposite of this occurring reinforcement would punishment and can create or have fighters fall into old or bad habits. Regardless of the methodology, thousands of fights occur in the training room that translate to the cage or ring. We depend on these battles as a sculpture would his tools to refine our overall product. We paint masterpieces in blood, sweat, and the occasional tear or two.
Next time you see a fighter go down in a few seconds, it’s not that he is not badass or can’t fight, sometimes that formula of the number of battles he needed to be ready. Also, the other man is on his way to a few thousand fights of his own to make it appear easy in the cage. So, remember as a fan when you are watching the next UFC, remember that these men and women are warriors who bare the physical and mental scars of thousand fights.