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Iron Mike Tyson's Tough Talk and What It Means To Mixed Martial Arts
Posted on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 9:25 am
by IDMA Editor

Few guys know the fight game like former Heavyweight Boxing Champion "Iron" Mike Tyson.

He's fought tough champions, he's beaten tough champions, and he's been beaten by tough champions in his own sport and has been widely revered for his knockouts to the point that, if you don't focus on him biting off Evander Holyfield's ear, the man is often the subject of dream boxing bouts opposite Muhammad Ali.

If anyone knows the fight business, it's Iron Mike Tyson. Just ask Team GSP. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

I mention him now because as many in the MMA world know, he has been on the two most recent episodes of The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck as a spectator.

His appearance definitely inspired Michael Johnson, GSP's first fighter pick, to pull it out in the Sudden Victory round of his fight against Team Koscheck's Aaron Wilkinson.

After bumping Team Koscheck down to 0-2 on last week, Josh Koscheck kept his composure and looked to show up the next day to get ready for training -- a training session that would lead up to Kyle Watson's fight with Andy Main, which aired on Spike TV last night.

In an moment suitable for a top ten of the sports world's best motivational speeches, Iron Mike and Team GSP congratulated Johnson, showed respect to the efforts of Wilkinson, and then sat down with both ear-holes open as Tyson gave the team some soft-spoken-yet-hard-hiting advice to carry on with them in the long run of their time on the show.

Take some time out to watch the video and really let Tyson's words soak in now, because regardless of who said them, they do apply to Mixed Martial Arts.

For starters on how I took Tyson's words, I remember the first thing he told Johnson and the team, which has happened before in the sport with some fighters.

You know those "once-in-a-blue-moon" type of prospects that everyone tends to hype up so much to the point that if they go longer than the first two rounds with someone that's "an easy opponent", that one-time prospect all of a sudden becomes "overrated"?

I know it's happened with some fighters in the sport and it'll happen with future prospects of the sport that are expected by some to finish their opponents early.

Tyson's been there before.

He's been the guy expected to get a TKO or a KO in fights only to take some fighters to a decision, much to the ire of his fans.

When he opened up the speech and as he drew towards the middle of it, he let in reach the brains of everyone in that room that they shouldn't ever put themselves in the position where they need to finish off their opponent in the Sudden Victory round in order to win the fight.

What Tyson was telling GSP's boys could be broken down to interpretation, but to me, Tyson was advising the guys to do their best to not make a mistake that could turn a fight they're winning into a fight they need to finish in the Sudden Victory round in order to win, and that they should also not ever intend to let the fight go into three rounds when they could just as easily get a lopsided decision win in the first two rounds.

As a matter of fact, desperation was the second key point I recalled from the speech -- when Tyson told the guys that if they ever let themselves get desperate in a fight, they'd be making mistakes and making themselves vulnerable in the process.

The last two points I took had to do with what it means to be a fighter, and that's what inspired me to even do a piece of this caliber.

Tyson pointed out two factors of the sport that hold the largest bit of truth in any context: endurance and humility.

Fighting isn't how hard your punches land or how sick it sounds when you land a kick on a body part, and it definitely isn't your ability to knock the hell out of the guy across the cage from you.

It's the question of how long you can go without quitting in the fight and how you answer that question in the cage -- that's one of the things that makes the fight game.

The other thing, as many of you might have figured out, is how you conduct yourself after the fight.

One has to wonder how fired up Team GSP will be now that Iron Mike has spoken to them. Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Sure, Dana White, Scott Coker, Bjorn Rebney, and the other countless CEOs of MMA organizations pay their fighters to fight, but the sport isn't at a level where things like post-fight cheap-shots and post-fight brawls can be passed off for even a minute.

You can expect it in Hockey and you can come close to it in American Footbal, but you can't do that in MMA.

Maintaining professionalism in the fight business means being humble and giving credit where it's warranted after a win or a loss.

The point to go home with after Tyson's speech was something that anyone could say because whether they do believe it personally or not, it's true:

Life is a fight, and if you ask me personally, life is the longest fight anyone out of all of us will ever have, even if we never step into a cage once before we die.

How does any of this flow into MMA?

Well, you hear of the grinders, the tough-chinned guys, the guys who "lay-and-pray", and the guys who are the best at some aspect of the game, but you never really hear any of this type of stuff unless you train in the sport yourself.

You hear plenty of fighters say that they either don't get greedy with how they get the win, or you hear them say that they want the knockout or the submission.

Few of them will actually admit when they knew they needed a portion of the last round to save their own ass in the fight, but that's what Tyson drove home to these guys.

They shouldn't need to put themselves in a position where they need a finish in the last round to win the fight -- especially if they're winning the fight anyway.

Granted, it's not usually your fault if the fight should reach a third and final round or a fifth and final round, but nonetheless Tyson did respect that Johnson finished when he did.

The speech wasn't a tearjerker by any means, but I thought it was one that most fans of the sport of MMA ought to hear.

I can definitely say that I could tell Tyson was speaking from the heart, which made it come off as inspiring to me.

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