Sunday, August 24, 2014

All it takes is one punch


Being a fan of combat sports comes with a double-edged sword. We love the excitement a one punch knockout can bring at any moment; but at the same time we cringe at the thought afterwards of what could really happen. Whether it's in a cage with mixed martial arts or in a ring with boxing, the reality that all it takes is one punch to change, win and end a fight is a scary one.


Fighters enter the combat zone knowing full well the consequences, or do they? Sure they understand that the possibility they could get put to sleep is always there; but do they understand it can have a lingering effect? I'm not talking long term, because I'm not a physician, but history has shown us that once a fighter gets stretched out unconscious, more often than not it continues to happen over and over.

The top photo shows MMA fighter Charlie Brenneman getting dropped by a vicious punch from UFC lightweight Danny Castillo. Throughout his career, Brenneman has shown a pretty durable chin, especially when he was fighting as an undersized welterweight. However of the seven losses in his career, four have been due to KO's and three of those were of the brutal one-punch/kick variety. 

It remains to be seen if these KO's will or do have a lingering effect on Brenneman's career, as will be the case for boxing great Manny Pacquiao (bottom photo) who was out cold face down on the canvas for a few minutes in this fight again Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao has had two fights since this scary knockout loss, which he won both by decision, but it wasn't necessarily against the biggest guys and heaviest punchers in his division. Brandon Rios was a blown up super lightweight fighting at welterweight and Timothy Bradley has 12 KO's in 31 wins. 

Pacquiao's next opponent Chris Algieri has but eight knockouts in 20 victories. As long as Pacman continues to fight light punchers we may never know how that one punch from Marquez has affected him, if it did at all. However, there is no question it has already begun to happen to UFC lightweight Gray Maynard.

Maynard, once a title challenger and top contender in the UFC, has lost three fights in a row and four of his last five, all by vicious knockouts. Those are the only four losses on his record and yet they've all happened in his last five fights. The last three in row have taken place over the course of 14 months. Questions have been circling Maynard about his health and whether he should retire; but according to Maynard pending the results of tests being conducted on his brain he plans to continue his fight career. 

It can happen to anybody even the greatest of the greats as can be witnessed through the rapid decline of boxing champion Roy Jones, Jr. Once considered the best pound for pound boxer in the world, Jones career took a sudden turn after he was put to sleep with one left hook from nemesis Antonio Tarver. That one punch turned Jones from an undefeated marvel, to just another fighter who once was.

Before that punch Jones had lost only once, via controversial disqualification, in 51 fights. Since that punch he's lost seven times in 15 fights, three more by knockout. As previously stated, I'm not a physician so this is merely going on what I've seen. It's also not an exact science as can be witnessed by the comeback of UFC heavyweight Andre Arlovski.

Arlovski, a former UFC champion, was all but considered done after four losses in a row; three of which were due to first round knockouts. Everyone including myself said Arlovski was finished and his chin more fragile than paper mache. Yet, Arlovski has gone (7-1-1) in his last nine fights since and has worked his way back to the UFC where he garnered a win in his last bout. For now, it appears all is good for 'The Pitbull', but in three weeks he's scheduled to fight Antonio 'Big Foot Silva'. All it takes is one punch from that giant and the great Arlovski comeback story could be over just that fast. 

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