No matter what sport in which an athlete participates, talent can take you far, but you can't get to the top of the mountain without a little bit of luck on your side.
In MMA, good luck can come in many forms. Opportunities arise when high-profile matchups are scrapped due to injury. Sometimes a pair of incompetent judges will give you a win that you don't remotely deserve.
After seeing UFC middleweight Francis Carmont gifted a controversial win on Saturday night, here is a look at the luckiest fighters in MMA history.
Not once, but twice now, has UFC middleweight Francis Carmont kept his impressive winning streak alive based on the questionable decision-making skills of judges.
At UFC 154, Carmont defeated Tom Lawlor via split decision in a fight that many believe should have been scored in favor of "Filthy." By no means was the decision a robbery, but it certainly appeared that the Ultimate Fighter alum had done enough to win the fight.
On Saturday night, Carmont's next appearance came at UFC on Fox 7. After three hard-fought rounds of action, it appeared that the Tri-Star fighter's momentum had finally ground to a halt courtesy of Lorenz Larkin.
In the end, Carmont won a unanimous decision. However, MMAdecisions.com reports that nine of 11 major sports sites polled scored in favor of Larkin.
Rampage Jackson is the first one to tell the world when he wins a decision undeservedly. Wins over Lyoto Machida and Murilo Rua earn the PRIDE star a spot in this list.
After defeating Machida, Jackson had a look of pure disbelief on his face before quickly raising the arm of his opponent.
However, Jackson took things one step further after being awarded a split decision win over Rua. Appearing embarrassed by the decision, Rampage attempted to give his opponent the winner's trophy that had been presented to him.
It's refreshing to see a fighter tell the world that he didn't deserve the win that he was just gifted.
Anyone who saw the final moments of Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall knows exactly why "Mighty Mouse" finds himself on this countdown.
In a flyweight tournament bout, the special rules dictated that a fourth round would occur if the action was scored a draw after three frames. Considering that Johnson won the opening rounds and McCall absolutely dominated in the third, it looked as if we would go to the bonus round.
Lady Luck sprinkled some love on Johnson for this announcement, because the WEC standout was beaten and in low spirits, which likely would have led McCall taking the final frame.
However, Bruce Buffer was called into the cage so a winner could be announced. The decision was made and Johnson was the winner by majority decision.
The fight was actually scored a draw, however, due to an issue transposing the scores, Buffer was handed incorrect information and the fight was finished with Johnson incorrectly announced as the winner.
Charlie Brenneman certainly didn't make his way onto this list by being gifted bad decisions from incompetent judges. Instead, the Spaniard became one of the luckiest fighters in the sport when Nate Marquardt was disallowed from competing in a scheduled main event against Rick Story.
The UFC was in need of a welterweight willing to face Story, one of the hottest prospects in the division and with only 24 hours between Marquardt's removal and the event, Brenneman was the only fighter able to weigh in for the matchup.
Story was not prepared to face a grinding wrestler like Brenneman, and had trouble in the early rounds. Brenneman would win a 29-28 decision across the board and became an overnight success story.
Reigning UFC champion Benson Henderson is three title defenses into one of the most successful runs in lightweight history. However, with two of those victories coming in razor-close (and controversial) decisions, Lady Luck is certainly on his side.
By no means am I suggesting that Henderson is deserving of losses in matchups against Frankie Edgar or Gilbert Melendez. Instead, I'm pointing out that both fights were close enough to be considered a draw, and for judges to award victory to Henderson in both of them is a blessing.
Vitor Belfort won a world title when a punch barely grazed his opponent and opened up a cut on his eyelid that forced the bout to come to a stop. Enough said.
Yoshihiro Akiyama has lost his last four fights in the UFC, including a lackluster matchup against Jake Shields and a two-minute TKO loss to Vitor Belfort. However, the Japanese fighter still has a job.
It's not unheard of for a fighter to stay on the roster with four consecutive losses. Dan Hardy did it in 2010 after losses to Chris Lytle, Anthony Johnson, Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre.
But, there is a difference. Hardy is one of the most popular stars in the company and has a tendency to participate in thrilling contests. Akiyama doesn't quite match that reputation.
I'm not one to call a striker "lucky" when they knock out a fighter with strikes. After all, they trained their butt off in hopes of scoring a knockout, and labeling them as lucky certainly isn't cool.
That being said, it's hard to consider the accomplishments of Sokoudjou to be reflective of his skill level based on the fact that he struggled so much against lesser competition in later years.
Sokoudjou scored flash knockouts against PRIDE superstars Lil Nog and Ricardo Arona in a combined time of 2:22.
However, considering his record of 12-10 outside of these matches, there is no question that this light heavyweight landed a couple of lucky punches and was never as good as his wins suggested.
The phrase "effective aggression" is apparently misunderstood by many judges. Some feel that simply pushing forward and chasing your opponent across the cage is enough to score you the round, regardless of the actual strikes landed inside the cage.
Either Diego Sanchez is aware of this and takes advantage of it, or he is the luckiest guy in the world.
In recent fights, "Nightmare" has come out successful against the likes of Martin Kampmann and Takanori Gomi, who both beat his face like it was an African hand drum.
Without those gifted decisions, Sanchez would be on a three-fight losing streak, and have only one victory in his past six appearances.
Feel free to include Leonard Garcia thoughts on this slide, because that guy is lucky for the exact same reason.
How would you feel if you pulled down Superman's spandex and found out that his muscles weren't real? That's how I felt when taking a close look at the record of Randy "Captain America" Couture.
Aside from Couture picking up cake-walk fights against an extremely out-of-prime Mark Coleman and pro boxer James Toney, "The Natural" has also been on the receiving end of some terrible decisions that further padded his record.
In 2001, Couture defended his heavyweight title against Pedro Rizzo. It was a fight that most viewers saw in favor of Rizzo, feeling that "The Rock" won each of the final four rounds. If you need any more convincing of the poor judgment, watch Randy's face when the decision is read.
Years later at UFC 105, Couture stole another decision from Brandon Vera, who was on the cusp of the biggest win of his career.