Today was a sad day in the fight world. We lost one of the all-time great fighters in the history of boxing, Smokin' Joe Frazier.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world that bested the consensus greatest boxer, Muhammad Ali, in the Fight of the Century played the villain to Ali's hero but endeared himself to fight fans as his career wore on and eventually ended.
Many people forget how talented Frazier was, and his fights with Ali as well as with George Foreman go down as some of the most epic fights in the history of the sport.
With boxing being a cornerstone of a well-rounded fighter, let's take a look at what mixed martial artists take a page out of Smokin' Joe's fight book.
I know that we didn't see a whole lot of this in his fight this past Saturday against Mark Munoz at UFC 138, but Chris Leben is almost indestructible.
"The Crippler" has fought in 30 professional fights and he's only been knocked out three times. When you factor in the relentless and almost reckless way he fights, you can only imagine how strong his chin is.
In his fight against against Terry Martin at UFC Fight Night 11, Leben was almost assured a loss or a draw at best due to grabbing the fence in the first round and being deducted a point. During the third round Martin landed a couple of right-left combinations that rocked Leben.
With Martin confident, Leben seized his opportunity. "The Crippler" walked through a few shots and delivered a left hook that had Martin looking at the lights. Leben has the uncanny knack for absorbing punishment and landing big shots time after time.
Like Leben, in order for Frazier to land shots he often had to "weather the storm" to get inside. By having a strong chin, he could get his opponents where he wanted them.
Frankie Edgar is the Rocky of MMA. The lightweight champion will never lose a battle of wills.
As witnessed in his epic fights against Gray Maynard at UFC 125 and UFC 136, Edgar withstood enormous punishment in the first round only to come back in the following rounds like a brand new fighter.
Edgar's conditioning and heart are what keep him champion in a division that may not even be the best for his natural body size. Edgar fought and defeated the man that most believed he had no chance against, B.J. Penn.
Frazier fought and defeated the man that most believed that he had no chance against, Muhammad Ali.
Edgar even utilizes his jab just like Frazier used to.
With the heart of a champion and the will to fight harder as the fight continues, Edgar won't be giving that belt up easy.
UFC-only fans may not know who Hector Lombard is, but you may want to jump on YouTube and get your knowledge up because Lombard is a beast.
Joe Frazier was listed at 5'11" (generously), so to fight taller fighters he had to "get in his chest." Lombard is the same way. He wants to get right inside where he can throw short, precise bombs to end his opponents night early.
As evidenced in his fight against at Bellator 44 against Falaniko Vitale, if anyone allows Lombard inside, he will be taking a nap. Vitale actually played it smart and stayed on the outside up until Round 3. Vitale appeared to get a little too confident and tried to get inside for a body shot, that was the only opening Lombard need as he deposited a crisp right hand on Vitale's chin and Vitale went night-night.
It reminds you of the way Zab Judah got knocked out by Kostya Tszyu (if you haven't seen that, please look it up now). Lombard has serious inside power, just like Frazier showed time and time again.
Joe Frazier's left hook put a lot of fighters to sleep and some in the hospital. The same can be said about Paul "Semtex" Daley.
The exiled former UFC fighter has some of the most lethal power in his left hand the division has seen. Often, his left hook is the punctuation on the end of a vicious punch-filled sentence delivered directly to his opponents temples. It's no mistake that 20 of his 29 victories have come by knockout.
By the same token, Frazier had one of the best left hooks ever seen in the fight game. If you examine footage from his fights, you would see that he used his other punches to set up his left hook. Whether to the body or to his opponent's cranium, his left hook would get the job done and led the way to 27 knockouts out of his 32 victories.
Another similarity is the public perception of the fighter. Most would agree that Frazier wasn't beloved until later on after his career was over due to the "black hat" persona he wore opposite the wildly famous Muhammad Ali. Daley has the same relationship with the public, though his is definitely more self-inflicted.
Joe Frazier was often described as a brawler, a bruising fighter who wanted to turn every fight into a free-for-all because he knew he could out-tough anyone. He was able to take someone's best shot and give it back to then, 10-fold.
Diego Sanchez shows that same spirit.
Nobody will ever forget Sanchez vs. Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter season nine finale. The fight of the year was probably one of the best fights we've ever seen in UFC history. It was a slugfest that saw both men hit each other with vicious shots and keep walking in for more. This looked personal. It looked like both men knew each other from their old neighborhood and had been waiting to fight for years.
That's just the way Sanchez fights, and we love it.
Frazier took that same mentality into his fights. He wanted it to be a brawl because he knew that when it came to brawling, nobody could beat him. If he could get his opponent's mind away from technique, he knew he had him.