Almost every athlete that competes in any type of sport generally has some sort of habit or ritual that they perform to ensure victory. In hockey during the playoffs it is often seen that the players will not shave their beards, as it seen to bring good luck. I have heard of many players not washing their socks or certain other items of clothing in hopes of bringing good vibes to their performances. It was in an actual recent interview with Shogun here on BE where he discussed slightly about how he believes that his mouthpiece is something that will bring him good fortune. Having read so many habits, I can’t help but observe certain things about athletes that stay consistent. RIP Hamilton in the NBA continued to wear a facemask as part of his usual routine. After watching Shogun getting caught on his nose with a Hendo hook, I noticed what had gone wrong. Reflecting more, I recalled at least two other instances in which a fighter changed their status quo, and the consequences that were suffered as a result.
So we will begin first with one of my favorite fighters, Mr. Shogun Rua. There I was with a nice cold beverage in my hand getting excited for the rematch between Shogun and Hendo. I watched the walk-ins with anticipation, and had a feeling that Shogun was going to take this fight. Introductions were announced and I was amped up in preparation for the fight, but after a minute or so I noticed something was off. It was not Shogun’s footwork, head movement, or striking. Something was not right and for a moment I could not figure it out, until I noticed what he was wearing. I spouted off my observation to my brother-in-law immediately upon discovery, "Hey dude, Shogun isn’t wearing his usual white Bad Boy booty shorts! Something bad is going to happen!" He confirmed what I had witnessed, and a sudden dread fell over me. I knew something bad was coming, and sure enough I saw Shogun get dropped with a horrible grimace over his face. I looked to my brother-in-law and told him, "He changed his wardrobe man, he changed his wardrobe." Now maybe this was a fluke, but I thought about other big bouts in which fighters have done this and it began to make sense that changing certain certainties could have an effect on big fights.
GSP losing to Serra was one of the biggest upsets in MMA history. No one foresaw Serra knocking out GSP, or even having the slightest chance of winning the welterweight belt. When he staggered GSP with that looping punch, my jaw dropped and I could not believe what I had just witnessed…The greatest WW of our time had been taken out by the biggest underdog anyone had seen at the time. However I looked back and noticed something was different before the fight even begun. Once the intros were completed, I saw that GSP was not in his normal compression shorts. For this title bout, he opted to wear camo trunks. I had never seen him fight in these types of shorts before. Before that, he dominated his opponents in his usual booty shorts and won in convincing fashion. Not this fight. He changed his apparel and as a result shook up the MMA world. Let’s move on to another example.
Perhaps my favorite fighter of all time, Benson Henderson, had one of the greatest LW fights of all times against Mr. Showtime Pettis. That final fight in the WEC promotion, in my hometown of Glendale was an up and down roller coaster of an affair. I was sure Ben had the fight until that infamous Showtime kick shattered all of our hearts here in AZ. Needless to say after Ben tore through the UFC LW division en route to becoming the champ, I eagerly awaited his revenge against Pettis. Once again, something was off before the ref could even explain the rules and instructed the fighters to touch gloves. First thing, Ben did not have his hair loose, and instead of his usual hair tied back, he preferred to have braids this time around. Second observation was that he went the GSP route for this title defense…he decided to wear regular trunks as opposed to his normal compression shorts. Despite being in the face of danger for possible submissions in a number of his fights, Ben was never submitted or was finished in any of his bouts on the big stage (yes I know he lost his third pro fight via anaconda, but we’re talking about Zuffa here). Yet here is a guy with basically no bones or ligaments, and he fell to an armbar in the first round. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but I kind of assumed that was going to happen based off of the change in the routine.
Sure call me crazy, but I do think sometimes changing even the slightest things as wardrobe can disrupt performances. I know when I do anything that pertains to sports; I always sport a hair tie on my left wrist, whether it is basketball, bowling or golf. It’s something I do and I know will bring me a level of comfort. Even while boxing I would have it on just to assure myself that I was in control and that everything was ok as long as I sported it. Maybe I am crazy, but those three fights alone kind of convince me that the slightest change can alter an outcome. Does anyone else see this, or have a crazy ritual?