"Survival of the fittest" was a term coined by Herbert Spencer in reference to Darwin's concept of Evolution. This term has been interpreted different ways and has even been used to justify the subjugation of people. In biology it is considered to be the "fittest" when one has a large amount of offspring, resulting in a larger amount of genetic copies for each successive generation. Social Darwinism used this term to consider the "fittest" humans to be the fastest, strongest, or smartest. In my opinion, each and every MMA match is a test of who is the fittest at that specific moment in time. I know that statement is obvious, but humour me for a moment. If an MMA match was repeated multiple times, then there could obviously be multiple outcomes. But, for most of the time the match is not repeated and we don't have the luxury of a time machine to see what would have happened if a certain fighter threw a kick instead of a punch or went for the takedown instead of getting into a slugfest. The "fittest" is only for that moment in time. What about the Underdog? Can the Underdog ever be considered the "fittest" ? If so, then what is the defining characteristic for being the "fittest" fighter at a specific moment? That, my fellow maniacs can be explained by one thing,
mental toughness. This goes by many names, including: willpower, fortitude, perception, focus, determination, power of the mind, etc. Whenever two fighters have stepped into the ring/cage they are being put to the test physically and mentally. Both athletes have spent months physically preparing for the fight, but what happens inside each individual fighter's mind remains hidden to the outside world. What influences the fighter's mind??? Every fighter must endure physical setbacks in training including injuries and illness. Each fighter must also keep a rigid schedule of training sessions and carefully monitor their intake of supplements and food. The outside distractions must be kept to a minimum, but after attending multiple press conferences and giving many interviews, a fighter can sense who the masses will favor and whether or not they are the underdog. What role do the odds play in the mind of the fighter, especially if they learn they are the +800 underdog?
The first example, which is the most recent would be the match between Johnny Hendricks and Jon Fitch. Many odds makers were selling Hendricks as a +200 underdog, but yet he did what a lot of fighter's could not do; He,"finished the fitch". I think that will catch on," finish the fitch." HAHAHA!
The second example is the often maligned Tito Ortiz when he faced the up and coming Ryan Bader. In this match I could find odds as high as +400 against Tito. Well, we witnessed what happened in that match.
The third example can be wildly debated because it included the controversial Fedor Emelianenko versus Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was considered a +500 underdog!!!! But being as confident as he always is, he ended up shocking Fedor and bringing the mythical beast back to reality.
In all 3 of the examples the underdog won. I am talking about the Underdog perceived by the majority of people including the oddsmakers. I understand that some will say that the Underdog had a game plan, but remember all fighters have a plan, but not all of them can execute the plan when the time comes, or if they get punched in the face. Some may say the Underdog hit a "lucky" punch/kick. Well didn't the Underdog have to make the mental decision to throw said punch/kick? The Underdog that actually wins has proven that for that specific moment they were the "fittest". The Underdog did not crumble under the pressure. Instead the Underdog emerged with a victory that everyone considered impossible, everyone except one person, the Underdog.
Since the community has been getting a little closer with the brilliant trilogy of "maniacs unmasked", maybe we can continue the connectivity by not only discussing these underdogs, but sharing our own underdog stories, whether in the cage or in our lives. We are all Underdogs at one point in our lives.....