So much focus is placed on finishing fights, the knock outs and the overall aggression that most fans want to see in every single fight. While we would all love to see exciting fights every single time the cage door is closed the fact is every fight will be unique. Each combination of fighters provides us with different game plans, different style match ups and unique encounters that only those two fighters can provide.
Everyone has their own taste in fights as well. Just as in food, movies and women (*or men) we all have different opinions and preferences to our likes and dislikes. One fan may love to watch slug fests no matter how sloppy they may be and another fan may enjoy a grappling war where minimal strikes are thrown. You may like a nasty overhand right hand that puts the opponent’s lights out and I may salivate at a crazy transition leading to a slick submission.
Regardless of our points of view there is one intangible that is brought up a lot in typical MMA conversation.
That intangible is killer instinct. The dog eat dog mentality, the cutthroat and ruthless mentality that has made Wanderlei Silva famous and has earned fighters like Thiago Silva and Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos their fan bases.
It’s something you can’t teach, it is something you either have or you develop on your own. There is no lesson plan for it and there are no drills to improve it. But if you have it and it is used effectively there are very few intangible skills that can change the mindset of a fight and the mentality of your opponent.
But their is a big difference between a good killer instict and a bad one.
Let’s dig deeper after the jump
The Good - Killer Instict
What makes killer instinct different then reckless abandon?
Guys who go into fights and just want to let loose despite game plans and opponents are reckless. Standing in the pocket with your chin out and hands down as you swing haymakers in reckless. A guy who wades into the pocket with every intention of knocking his opponents head off while remaining patient and keen to his game plan is dangerous and effective. That’s one way to look at killer instinct.
Alistair Overeem may be one of the hardest hitting punchers in the sport right now. While holding a mixed martial arts title from a premier organization he has spent a lot of time fighting in K-1 most recently capturing the title in kickboxing’s biggest stage. Overeem has the ill intent in every punch to knock his opponent out. In this fight with Ben Edwards you can see that he is not reckless, he is very technical and throws the punches with loads of power. He has the same killer instinct in every fight.
Picking your shots doesn’t make you a point’s fighter either. Nor does it mean you lack aggression. B.J. Penn is one of the most aggressive and menacing strikers and that is displayed beautifully in his one sided beat down of Diego Sanchez. He was never over anxious to strike, he waited to counter and even when up four rounds to none he still had the killer instinct to finish the fight. In the final exchange Penn let loose on Diego attempting to end the fight while never getting too reckless to leave an opening to be in any danger.
Another difference between reckless abandon and killer instinct.
Anderson Silva also displays the killer instinct that sets apart strikers. Many can hint towards his fights with Patrick Cote and Thales Leites but all one has to do is go back to his fight with Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, James Irvin and Forrest Griffin to see that Silva is one of the best finishers in the sport. His ability to avoid strikes while hitting the counter is what has made him so deadly. For the most part a counter strike will land on an exposed chin, momentum working in the counter punchers favor and leaving the guard of the striker open just enough to pick your spot. While Anderson is very aggressive he is also very tactical hitting from all angles to further expose the defensive guard to give more clear targets to hit.
While tactical he also shares soemthing with Alistair Overeem is that when he throws he throws hard enough to end the fight. During the initial two knock downs Anderson could have punced and attempted to finish but instead he knew where he was winning and allowed Forrest to get back to his feet, remained calm and then delivered the fight ending strike. Patience with aggression.
Silva also knows how to finish. He knows when someone is stunned and will methodically unleash his aggression when the moment is right. He rarely leaves himself open for the counter and when he throws his strikes have ill intent every time. His killer instinct is what made him such a feared champion and a fan favoirte before the Cote and Leites fights.
The Bad – Reckless Abandon
Sometimes the killer instinct can be a negative. While Wanderlei Silva has found success with his style more often then not when facing a disciplined striker like Mirko Cro Cop or a devastating power puncher like Dan Henderson he has hit a few road blocks.
Swinging wildly with malicious intent can and eventually will lead you to failure. Head hunting or focusing solely on ending the fight violently will stray you away from game plans, enable your opponent to catch you in a mistake whether it be dropping your hands or being out of position and also will effect your cardio if you are not successful in ending the fight. In the following clips you will see Wanderlei gassed from slugging with Henderson drop his hands and swing wildly and also throw wide wild punches against Rampage Jackson. Both leading to Wanderlei being knocked out.
Devastating striking and big time power will only get you so far if you don’t have patience and discipline. Even the best strikers have fallen victim to this. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira got sloppy vs a relatively unknown Sokoudjou in their Pride fight which saw Lil Nog being knocked out. And more recently the K-1 veteran Melvin Manhoef was caught by "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler.
In a fight that Manhoef landed 23 out of 41 strikes and 11 of those being devatstating leg kicks all Robbie Lawler needed was one punch to win. He threw a total of three but one was all that was needed in the three and half minutes of fighting. Manhoef was very patient in the early goings of the fight picking his shots on a retreating Lawler but once he began to land with some constant success and had appeared to rattle Lawler he licked his lips and pounced in for the kill.
While Manhoef hits all the angles and has Lawler seemingly on the fence he loses his patience and stops picking his shots. He rushes in and he abandons the tightness in his guard and posture and instead chooses to sacrifice defense for more offense. He throws a leg kick with his hands straight down, stays close inside the pocket still with his hands down and throws a last punch right before he eats a monster over hand from a ducking and retreating Lawler. Good night Manhoef.
Had Manhoef remained disciplined and stuck to the success he had going without being over anxious he would more then likely have won the round. And for arguments sake would have won the fight whether it is by decision or finishing Lawler later on. He kept a good distance; he remained defensive in posture and was hitting combos at several angles. It was not until he became reckless that he was put into a position to be caught.
What do you think Maniacs? Do you want the fighters to be full of reckless abandon to end the fight for our viewing pleasure? Or do you appreciate methodical aggression?
Tell me what you think about Killer Instinct...