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The Lucky Punch in MMA: Real or Myth


I have always believed there is no such thing as a lucky punch.  Even when a fighter is swinging wildly trying to defend himself while taking a beating and happens to knock is opponent out, I always thought that it was the fighter's intention to hit opponent so it can't deem it as lucky.  Then again, I am not a fighter (just a keyboard warrior) so I really couldn't never say for certain that there is no such thing as a lucky punch.

One of my favorite MMA writers, Ben Fowkles from MMAfighting, had a great column yesterday on what part luck plays in fighting.  Apparently, my belief that there is no such thing as a lucky punch isn't the shared with actually pro fighters:

But as much as we hear about how anything can happen in MMA, how the four-ounce gloves are known to conjure a certain type of magic in the cage, aren't there times when you just get lucky and win one you shouldn't? Does the better man really always win?  "Definitely not," said Jason "Mayhem" Miller. "But what else is there?" It's a fair point. It's not like we can open up each guy's brain and find some magic formula that will tell us exactly how good he is. Good is a changeable commodity in the fight game. Some nights you're better than others. Some nights things just don't go your way. "You get one chance, that one night, and you can get lucky," Miller said. "I think the better guy usually wins. Just mathematically it works out that way. Usually, it's who's better that night. I've had so many fights where afterwards I was like, dude, I shouldn't have won. Either because I was sick or f----d up or whatever. And then there were others where I did lose and thought, well, I can't believe I even did this because I was so hurt or sick I was going to pull out. That's life, though."

But the lucky punch? That's a trope that's as old as punching itself. It couldn't have been long after the first caveman learned to ball up his hand and use it as a weapon that some other outmatched early man knocked a bigger, stronger foe unconscious with a shot that was more of a hope and a prayer than a tactical assault. Pat Barry has flung enough punches at other humans' heads to know how that goes. The way he tells it, knockout punches are almost never the carefully premeditated affair many of us assume them to be. "I don't think, in my opinion, that anybody really knocks someone out with what they thought would knock them out. I think knockouts happen, for me anyway, when it's usually kind of accidental. I mean, you always throw the punch with the hope and intention of knocking someone out, but you never know it's going to happen. I've thrown punches before that were just supposed to feel guys out, then it lands and the guy falls down unconscious. At the same time, I've also thrown power shots on people that I knew were going to land, and they've done nothing."  For instance, there was the right hand he floored Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic with. Barry felt sure that one was a fight-ender. It knocked Filipovic down, but it also broke Barry's hand in the process. Talk about bad luck. But then, there have been times in Barry's career where the pendulum has swung in the other direction. "I've had kickboxing matches in China where I went in going, this is not going to be good. I'm not ready for this, I'm not there, and I just don't feel prepared. Then the bell rings, I throw a punch, and the guy goes down unconscious. ...There's a sense of relief, honestly."

I have to say, after hearing what Mayhem Miller and Pat Barry said about the luck in MMA, my opinion has been altered, but what about yours.  Is there such thing as a lucky punch?  Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.

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