The many faces of the Chin
What makes a good or bad chin is a question that has been asked throughout the ages of combat sports. There is a spectrum of answers, ranging from the shape of a person’s face to their mental toughness.
I’ll use myself as an example in this blog a lot, since I’ve been accused of being ‘chinny’. Having suffered my fair share of KO defeats it’s something I understand. I can give you my take on the subject, whilst trying not to completely hijack this blog in an attempt to justify my own chin. I will be as frank and painfully honest as possible to tackle this subject head on.
The first thing I want to bring up are the Mma fans that class fighters, that have only lost one fight by K.O, as having ‘glass jaws’. No example paints a clearer picture to me than the recent main event fight between John Jones v Rashad Evans.
Before the fight I was perusing the vast vaults of Mma knowledge on the net, otherwise known as ‘the Mma forums’, when I stumbled on a few different forum threads on the topic of Evans’ chin and how it wasn’t able to take a punch.
Now, I believe Jones kick started this chin hype on Rashad by making various comments about Rashad’s chin before they fought and sadly the many ‘mma sheep’ out there put their trainers on and ran with it.
I 100% get why Jones said these things, this is not the issue as he’s going to fight the guy and anything he can do to gain any kind of advantage-whether it’s fact or fiction- is smart.
What isn’t smart is the number of deluded ‘mma sheep’ who jumped on this theory as if it had any kind of merit. Let’s bear in mind we’re talking about a guy, who at the time had only lost and been K.o’d ONCE! Yes it was a dramatic K.O, yes he pulled a weird yet amusing/horrific face and yes his body resembled that of a contorted twisted black version of the scarecrow from the classic film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. All these things are true but that doesn’t mean he has no chin! I’m only basing the reason for all this talk about Rashad’s chin on the way he looked after that KO loss, because what else is there to go on? Rashad has been fighting the best, at the highest level, for the longest time and he has 1 KO loss to show for it!! If he has no chin then 99% of all Mma fighters are screwed. If you’re a dullard of epic Mma proportions and you carry on making such brainless observations then I’ll have to insist on rounding you all up and throwing heavy blunt objects at you as you hang your empty heads in shame.
Now, unlike Evans it might surprise you to know that I understand why I’ve been classed under that upsetting, spirit crushing, ego destroying banner of the ‘chinny’ fighter. I don’t like it and I defiantly don’t agree with it however I have to understand why it is said about me and the reasons, which if we’re being frank, you don’t need an IQ which is up there with Hawkins to figure it out. Simply put, I’ve lost a lot of fights by way of KO. ‘Case closed’ I hear you cry’! “Well,” (I say in my best Colombo impersonation as I turn back round just before heading off into the sunset) “Just one other thing”
This is where it all gets a little confusing. Ok, so I’ve been K.O’d in some fights, but I’ve also taken a lot of hard shots on the button: i.e. Kimbo, Pudzianowski, Fujita & Lashley, and I’ve carried on fighting- even winning- on some of these occasions.
What usually happens is the fighters landing these shots on my face are usually deemed as ‘having little power behind their punches’ but you’ll have to trust me on this one, that is definitely not the case with a couple of the fighters I mentioned. Although some of them I’m sure can improve on their striking, all of their shots hurt like hell and I have the scars, broken bones and an ear like a piece of chewed chewing gum to prove it!
In that case it must be down to a fighter’s chin wearing down over time. This is a legitimate reason as you can only get hit a certain amount of times in training and in fights before there comes a point when your punch resistance starts to slip, I think when this happens it stands to reason that your confidence (a massive part of anything you partake in, never mind a sport like Mma) can slide and if you’re not careful your will to win, plus the love of the brutal but addictive adrenaline fuelled game of Mma we’ve decide to take part in, starts to slip. If that starts to slide then you’ve got major problems!
That being said, in my case this doesn’t apply. All you have to do is look at the time frame of my fights. You’ll see from Kimbo onwards a lot of the other fighters I’ve fought and taken heavy shots from were in the latter part of my career. It would seem the reverse is happening to me… The more I get hit the better my chin becomes. Sadly this is not the case either.
What is the case then? Well I’ve wondered long and hard as to whether to go into detail about this, and had many discussions with my girlfriend about whether to write such personal information about myself in a blog like this, but in the end I have decided to… why? Because it’s part of my journey and in effect part of who I am, whether it’s good or bad.
I believe a lot of my KO losses were down to taking a substance called GHB. For those of you who don’t know what GHB is, it first came about as a drug to help alcoholics. The idea was that they’d drink it and when it mixed with the alcohol… they’d pass out (one of the side effects). Most people will have heard of it from the body building scene. GHB was used on the body building circuit as a supplement. At one point in time it was perfectly legal to buy GHB off the shelf at your local GNC store. In the body building world it was meant to work by inducing a deep state of sleep once taken at night time in liquid form, thus releasing more HGH (Human Growth Hormone). GHB has also been used as a powerful party drug. It’s taken by the small cap full, every hour or so, and the more you drink alcohol with it, the more powerful the alcohol and GHB become.
As you get more intoxicated it can become a problem as your judgement about when the last time you took some, as well as your measuring ability, becomes massively hindered. If you take too much your body just switches off (that’s why it’s also used by sad fucker’s who can’t pull) not before I hasten to add, you make a complete twat of yourself, which I cringingly have to hold my hands up high to and plead guilty on countless occasions. Just ask anyone who was at the old London shoot gym in Ladbroke grove, and they will testify.
When I started using this substance heavily, I thought I’d cracked it! Here was something that was inexpensive that I could have a great night on (if used carefully) and the big bonus!?! No hang over the next day! I’d get in at 4am, worse for wear, (quite possibly the biggest understatement I have ever made) have a very deep sleep till 8/9am and then get up feeling well rested and ready to train.. No problems.
But like so many things in life it comes with a price. The more I used, the more my tolerance to it built up, so gradually I would need to take more for it to take effect. Then I started to notice the headaches. I NEVER get headaches, but after these nights out (that were becoming more and more regular) I felt like my brain had been fried, then frozen, then put in a vice.
Like any truly retarded young chap, I forgot about it and ventured on. The next price to pay was me noticing that I was getting buzzed (dizzy after being hit- which is normal- but was happening more often than it should’ve) a lot in training, and then flash knock downs were happening, not only in training but in my fights too. Still…2+2 wasn’t making 4 as of yet for me.
I have to say; this is not an excuse. I made a decision to keep taking GHB even when I started to have an inclining that it may have been bad for my health and lively hood. All I can say on reflection is we really do live and learn!!
There was a well-known Mma fighter that I’m sure went down this path with GHB, suffering bad K’O losses towards the end of his career. I decided to edit the section on him out as reading it back I thought it was unfair as he didn’t have a choice in what I wrote. I mention it to highlight the fact that I really do think GHB has a detrimental effect to us lot that get hit in the head for a living.
I also have to point out that not all my KO losses are down to GHB. As much as I’d like to neatly place them in to that box and bury them for ever more… I can’t. I wasn’t taking GHB that often when Neil Grove sparked me right out and that was the first and only time I’ve been completely out of it.
So, in between learning more about my chin and deviant ways. I’ve hope that what I’ve highlighted about the chin hasn’t been lost in a sea of general ramblings. Here are a few refresher points about K.O’s & the chin..
1. Some time you just get caught. This is Mma, boxing, life.
2. Punch resist, fades in time.
3. Detrimental personal choices a fighter is making in life
4.Being KO’d is a big thing for a fighter to take. Some fighters can’t take it, lose confidence and become gun shy.
5. The shape of the fighters head & neck might seem silly but I’m sure there’s something in having a head shaped like a breeze block i.e. Fugita, Hunt.
These are just a few points. Sometimes it can be a few of them at once, but there’s no real way to know. It doesn’t really matter as the fan can only evaluate you on what they see and if you’re hitting the deck a lot, they’ll say your ‘chin is weak’.
You as the fighter have to dig deep start asking yourself some very deep searching important questions. All I ask is that Mma fans not throw the term ‘glass chin’ around where it’s not totally warranted. I’m telling you for your own good, as all it does is send a flair highlighting your naivety as a Mma fan.