In the world of heavy leather and slick submissions, not everyone can have the best of it all.
For every strength a fighter has, in most cases, he has a weakness to counter. One may have great submission skills but lack standup, while another might be a great striker but lack KO power.
But one attribute almost all fighters fear lacking is a solid chin.
In MMA, odds are that if you fight long enough, you're going to have your chin checked. And a prosperous career can get derailed if a solid chin is lacking.
Here is a list of five fighters who have found themselves getting dropped frequently or knocked out cold because they had a weak chin.
Arlovski has always been a solid fighter with strengths in many areas: crisp striking, KO power, fast hands and feet, good footwork, decent submissions and overall ground game and so on.
But for the latter part of his career, he has been KO’d heavily in most of the losses he has collected on his record.
Granted, most of those KO defeats have come at the hands of powerful punchers, but as seen in his first KO loss to Tim Sylvia, it doesn’t seem to take much to turn out his lights.
If Arlovski wants to reinvent and thus reestablish himself as a serious contender, he must find a way to protect that chin.
The former five-time defending light heavyweight champion was, in his prime, a terror to behold.
He possessed enormous physical strength for the division, high level MMA style wrestling, an acceptable submission game, great conditioning and just about the best ground-and-pound in the game.
But in some fights, he was dropped by glancing blows or strikes thrown from positions that were far from optimal when it comes to delivering the kind of horsepower normally associated with a KO strike.
Ken Shamrock dropped him in their first fight, thanks to a short right hand thrown while his back was against the cage.
Patrick Cote, a blown-up middleweight at the time, dropped him with an elbow strike while going backwards.
Wanderlei Silva barely clipped his chin with a winging right hand that dropped him, and thus inspired him to run headlong across the Octagon, with his back fully turned.
The more popular school of thought is that Tito Ortiz has a great chin, but I disagree. What I think he possesses is a deceptively weak chin that is compensated by great recovery powers.
He has a good enough defense to cover up against heavy-handed fighters, blocking and rolling with punches, but when he is not in said positions, he has shown he can be dropped with little power delivered.
While Tito has never been rendered fully unconscious with a single blow, he never had a strong enough chin to let him really commit to his punches, save for the time he caught and dropped Ryan Bader.
But when you weigh all the other strengths Tito had, it is not surprising that he had some kind of weakness.
The saying “big overture, little show” comes to mind when considering Josh Thompson.
He’s a big man with big power, but he has a chin that leaves much to be desired, especially given his toe-to-toe style.
With Thompson, a fighter is either going to get knocked out or knock him out, and the odds are usually even.
He has a big heart to even get into the cage given the amount of times he’s been starched, but it isn’t his heart or courage that is in question.
A good fighter with a strong tendency to have his lights turned off by even the slightest of breezes.
It’s a shame, because his lack of a chin overshadows his other skills, which are considerable.
Of course, as the saying goes, anyone can get caught. But in the case of Jonathan Goulet, his chin is more akin to a house of cards, and all of his opponents know it.
Had he developed more long-range offensive weapons, such as a stiff, stinging jab, we might have never really known, because again, he is a very talented fighter.
But there is no talent in a fighter's chin, only lettuce or granite.
A journeyman fighter who’s fought against the very best, Marvin Eastman can look back on his career with no small feeling of accomplishment and pride.
While he’s never made big waves on the big stages, he’s never walked away from a fight, and he’s won his fair share as well.
But at UFC 50 against Travis Lutter, we saw him get knocked flat by a blow so glancing that upon slow motion replay, it almost looked as if it missed him.
It almost looked as if he took a dive, until we saw that glazed, glassy look in his eyes as he lay on his back, out cold.
A common piece of fight wisdom says the worst punch is the one you never see coming, but in the case of Marvin Eastman, that punch was so telegraphed he would have had to have had to have his eyes stitched closed not to see it.