The many faces of the Chin

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What makes a good or bad chin is a question that has been asked throughout the ages of combat sports. There is a spectrum of answers, ranging from the shape of a person’s face to their mental toughness.

I’ll use myself as an example in this blog a lot, since I’ve been accused of being ‘chinny’. Having suffered my fair share of KO defeats it’s something I understand. I can give you my take on the subject, whilst trying not to completely hijack this blog in an attempt to justify my own chin. I will be as frank and painfully honest as possible to tackle this subject head on.

The first thing I want to bring up are the Mma fans that class fighters, that have only lost one fight by K.O, as having ‘glass jaws’. No example paints a clearer picture to me than the recent main event fight between John Jones v Rashad Evans.

Before the fight I was perusing the vast vaults of Mma knowledge on the net, otherwise known as      ‘the Mma forums’, when I stumbled on a few different forum threads on the topic of Evans’ chin and how it wasn’t able to take a punch.
Now, I believe Jones kick started this chin hype on Rashad by making various comments about Rashad’s chin before they fought and sadly the many ‘mma sheep’ out there put their trainers on and ran with it.

I 100% get why Jones said these things, this is not the issue as he’s going to fight the guy and anything he can do to gain any kind of advantage-whether it’s fact or fiction- is smart.
What isn’t smart is the number of deluded ‘mma sheep’ who jumped on this theory as if it had any kind of merit. Let’s bear in mind we’re talking about a guy, who at the time had only lost and been K.o’d ONCE! Yes it was a dramatic K.O, yes he pulled a weird yet amusing/horrific face and yes his body resembled that of a contorted twisted black version of the scarecrow from the classic film ‘The
Wizard of Oz’. All these things are true but that doesn’t mean he has no chin! I’m only basing the reason for all this talk about Rashad’s chin on the way he looked after that KO loss, because what else is there to go on? Rashad has been fighting the best, at the highest level, for the longest time and he has 1 KO loss to show for it!! If he has no chin then 99% of all Mma fighters are screwed. If you’re a dullard of epic Mma proportions and you carry on making such brainless observations then I’ll have to insist on rounding you all up and throwing heavy blunt objects at you as you hang your empty heads in shame.

Now, unlike Evans it might surprise you to know that I understand why I’ve been classed under that upsetting, spirit crushing, ego destroying banner of the ‘chinny’ fighter. I don’t like it and I defiantly don’t agree with it however I have to understand why it is said about me and the reasons, which if we’re being frank, you don’t need an IQ which is up there with Hawkins to figure it out. Simply put, I’ve lost a lot of fights by way of KO. ‘Case closed’ I hear you cry’! “Well,” (I say in my best Colombo impersonation as I turn back round just before heading off into the sunset) “Just one other thing”

This is where it all gets a little confusing. Ok, so I’ve been K.O’d in some fights, but I’ve also taken a lot of hard shots on the button:  i.e. Kimbo, Pudzianowski, Fujita & Lashley, and I’ve carried on fighting- even winning- on some of these occasions.

What usually happens is the fighters landing these shots on my face are usually deemed as ‘having little power behind their punches’  but you’ll have to trust me on this one, that is definitely not the case with a couple of the fighters I mentioned. Although some of them I’m sure can improve on their striking, all of their shots hurt like hell and I have the scars, broken bones and an ear like a piece of chewed chewing gum to prove it!

In that case it must be down to a fighter’s chin wearing down over time. This is a legitimate reason as you can only get hit a certain amount of times in training and in fights before there comes a point when your punch resistance starts to slip, I think when this happens it stands to reason that your confidence (a massive part of anything you partake in, never mind a sport like Mma) can slide and if you’re not careful your will to win, plus the love of the brutal but addictive adrenaline fuelled game of Mma we’ve decide to take part in, starts to slip. If that starts to slide then you’ve got major problems!

That being said, in my case this doesn’t apply. All you have to do is look at the time frame of my fights. You’ll see from Kimbo onwards a lot of the other fighters I’ve fought and taken heavy shots from were in the latter part of my career. It would seem the reverse is happening to me… The more I get hit the better my chin becomes. Sadly this is not the case either.

What is the case then? Well I’ve wondered long and hard as to whether to go into detail about this, and had many discussions with my girlfriend about whether to write such personal information about myself in a blog like this, but in the end I have decided to… why? Because it’s part of my journey and in effect part of who I am, whether it’s good or bad.

I believe a lot of my KO losses were down to taking a substance called GHB. For those of you who don’t know what GHB is, it first came about as a drug to help alcoholics.  The idea was that they’d drink it and when it mixed with the alcohol… they’d pass out (one of the side effects). Most people will have heard of it from the body building scene. GHB was used on the body building circuit as a supplement. At one point in time it was perfectly legal to buy GHB off the shelf at your local GNC store. In the body building world it was meant to work by inducing a deep state of sleep once taken at night time in liquid form, thus releasing more HGH (Human Growth Hormone). GHB has also been used as a powerful party drug. It’s taken by the small cap full, every hour or so, and the more you drink alcohol with it, the more powerful the alcohol and GHB become.

As you get more intoxicated it can become a problem as your judgement about when the last time you took some, as well as your measuring ability, becomes massively hindered. If you take too much your body just switches off (that’s why it’s also used by sad fucker’s who can’t pull) not before I hasten to add, you make a complete twat of yourself, which I cringingly have to hold my hands up high to and plead guilty on countless  occasions.  Just ask anyone who was at the old London shoot gym in Ladbroke grove, and they will testify.

When I started using this substance heavily, I thought I’d cracked it! Here was something that was inexpensive that I could have a great night on (if used carefully) and the big bonus!?! No hang over the next day! I’d get in at 4am, worse for wear, (quite possibly the biggest understatement I have ever made) have a very deep sleep till 8/9am and then get up feeling well rested and ready to train.. No problems.

But like so many things in life it comes with a price. The more I used, the more my tolerance to it built up, so gradually I would need to take more for it to take effect. Then I started to notice the headaches. I NEVER get headaches, but after these nights out (that were becoming more and more regular) I felt like my brain had been fried, then frozen, then put in a vice.

Like any truly retarded young chap, I forgot about it and ventured on. The next price to pay was me noticing that I was getting buzzed (dizzy after being hit- which is normal- but was happening more often than it should’ve) a lot in training, and then flash knock downs were happening, not only in training but in my fights too. Still…2+2 wasn’t making 4 as of yet for me.

I have to say; this is not an excuse. I made a decision to keep taking GHB even when I started to have an inclining that it may have been bad for my health and lively hood. All I can say on reflection is we really do live and learn!!

There was a well-known Mma fighter that I’m sure went down this path with GHB, suffering bad K’O losses towards the end of his career. I decided to edit the section on him out as reading it back I thought it was unfair as he didn’t have a choice in what I wrote. I mention it to highlight the fact that I really do think GHB has a detrimental effect to us lot that get hit in the head for a living.

I also have to point out that not all my KO losses are down to GHB. As much as I’d like to neatly place them in to that box and bury them for ever more… I can’t. I wasn’t taking GHB that often when Neil Grove sparked me right out and that was the first and only time I’ve been completely out of it.

So, in between learning more about my chin and deviant ways. I’ve hope that what I’ve highlighted about the chin hasn’t been lost in a sea of general ramblings. Here are a few refresher points about K.O’s & the chin..

1. Some time you just get caught. This is Mma, boxing, life.

2. Punch resist, fades in time.

3. Detrimental personal choices a fighter is making in life

4.Being KO’d is a big thing for a fighter to take. Some fighters can’t take it, lose confidence and become gun shy.

5. The shape of the fighters head & neck might seem silly but I’m sure there’s something in having a head shaped like a breeze block i.e. Fugita, Hunt.

These are just a few points. Sometimes it can be a few of them at once, but there’s no real way to know. It doesn’t really matter as the fan can only evaluate you on what they see and if you’re hitting the deck a lot, they’ll say your ‘chin is weak’.

You as the fighter have to dig deep start asking yourself some very deep searching important questions. All I ask is that Mma fans not throw the term ‘glass chin’ around where it’s not totally warranted. I’m telling you for your own good, as all it does is send a flair highlighting your naivety as a Mma fan.

88 thoughts on “The many faces of the Chin

  1. Chris Woolcott says:

    Punch resistance definitely fades with time for sure. So many big names start to lose via knock-out towards the end of their career, even those who at one point seemed indestructable ie Cro-cop, wanderlai… Even in my own limited career the difference has been noted. I found i was really struggling to absorb heavy shot’s after a KO loss but after a short break from the sport for recovery my ‘chin’ seems to have gotten tougher again but with MMA an 4oz gloves i think number 1 is spot on… Sometimes your just going to get caught!

    • jcolossus says:

      After a K.O loss a bit of a break is sometimes what’s needed (not too long) but a bit just to let the dust settle. Punch resitance defo fades over time, just like anything- nothing lasts forever, appart from diamonds & unfortunately our chins arn’t made of them. Good luck in the future m8

  2. Dan Carroll says:

    Enjoying your stuff man, spot on! :)

  3. Dean says:

    Great blog again James. Never heard of this GHB stuff before but its very interesting what your personal experience with it has taught you.

    I do wonder if there are other fighters that are on it and don’t realise it is negatively affecting them.

    To be 100% honest I did class you as a “chinny” fighter before but I never thought about your recent fights and how your chin stood up in those so I revise that statement, apologies. Plus in the heavyweight division even fighters with the best chin can get sparked out. Even legendary chins have been knocked out / TKO’d, Big Nog for example. Even Hunt was knocked out by a middleweight in Melvin Manhoef but I think that has more to do with Melvin’s great technique and that he hits like a heavyweight anyway.

    To your list above maybe you could add “Technique” too? No matter how good a chin is, the right punch delivered with the right technique can always knock a guy out. That’s not an indication of a fighter’s chin per se but it does add to the debate on a fighter’s chin.

    Kep up the awesome blogs. Can’t wait for the next one.

    • jcolossus says:

      Cheers Pal and think you’re right sometimes even with the best chin in the world, someone delivering a well timed, well executed punch, placed ‘just right’ will K.O anyone. Thanks for the kind words Dean

  4. Abhishek says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks a lot for sharing this.
    I love reading your blogs…:)

    P.S is this X-Ray your’s??aah you have got lot of steel plates and screws in your jaw…

    Thanks,
    Abhishek
    Your Indian fan…:)

    • jcolossus says:

      Haha no pal it’s not mine.. i’m not that bionic just yet! Thanks for kind words Abhishek, means alot

    • jcolossus says:

      Hello Abhishek, this pic is of my gf- i tried hitting her in the jaw with a cricket bat for not washing up so clearly she deserved it ;)
      And don’t worry it only made her love for me stronger. Thanks m8

  5. George Ou says:

    I think a huge factor in KO resistance can be measured by accelerometers placed on the fighter’s head hear. When receiving a punch of a given energy level (misunderstood as “power” but “energy” is the correct physics term), a fighter with a “strong chin” will be able to resist having their head snapped back. This means the “strong chin” fighter is transmitting less acceleration to their brain tissue even though they’re receiving the same energy punch (or kick or knee). So even if two fighters have the same tolerance in their brain tissue for acceleration, the fighter with the larger mass head and neck and stronger body that can resist being displaced will survive a punch much better.

    However, a fighter with a “strong chin” can be “caught” off guard while their neck is relaxed and still get knocked unconscious and Mark Hunt is a good example of this. Hunt’s problem might also be the fact that he took an insane brain beating from Crocop.

    • jcolossus says:

      It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly it might be, while what you say makes sense (as in size of neck/head etc) there are so many possibility’s or factors that cant be measured. That’s why the topic will never hsve an outright, clearcut answer. It’s fun to debate without being disrespectful like some people tend to be. cheers pal

  6. Andy says:

    good honest insight, thanks

  7. internet_guy says:

    I’m really impressed with these articles, not just the writing but your ability to be honest about yourself and the culture of MMA. You should write a book one day, it would be an improvement on the vast majority of stuff which gets written about MMA.

  8. huwgareth says:

    I think that the reason that some people think that you’re chinny is because you used to attack with your hands low and roll the dice as to whether you’d knock the other guy out in the first minute or get knocked out yourself. Do that against someone like Alex Emilienko and you’re taking a big risk. You knocked him down in the first 10 seconds; does that mean he’s chinny as well?

    There are people who are chinny, and it does seem to happen to a lot of fighters over time. Liddell and Silva are obvious examples of people whose ability to take a punch deteriorated over time, in Silva’s case it seemed to happen early and be associated with Cro Cop kicking him in the head. But Henderson is old enough to be a grandfather and still seems to have a rock solid chin.

    But in general people confuse reckless/poor defense with poor chins when they’re not the same thing, which I think is your point, The reason why you’ve been able to keep getting high profile fights in spite of a mediocre (though not bad) record is because you’ve always been in exciting fights, win or lose. People with poor chins are not in exciting fights.

    • jcolossus says:

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I have suffered from a bad defence, not chin, but lets face it- either one isnt good. But at least i can keep working on my defence
      I also agree that i get high profile fights because i’m exciting and come to fight no matter the opponent

  9. Lee says:

    Awesome blog James. I’ve actually been a follower of yours for some time and I highly admire your style. I’d love to one day be able to have that chance to train with you.

  10. kyle says:

    Saw that Mauro retweeted this and decided to give it a go.

    I just wanted to say thanks for writing this and thanks for sharing your personal stories.

    i did not know about your blog previously, but now am a follower.

    Looking forward to more.

    Kyle

  11. Paul Woo says:

    Great Read, thankyou !

  12. Tom says:

    really good read. Keep up the good work James

  13. Emrah says:

    As usual, good stuff dude. Keep at it :) Much better to get a fighters perspective on these things, than so called “experts”.

  14. ricardo says:

    GHB is one of the reasons i got divorced, my ex wife would find me lying on the kitchen floor with a half smoked joint in my hand with my clothes singed…….nasty, good blog as usual mate, concussion was my worst experience, not being able to speak and looking like it was raining every time you opened your eyes…..again nasty…keep up the good work buddy!!!!

  15. Dave K says:

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve got my first amateur boxing match coming up and I’m gonna stay the hell away from GHB!

    • jcolossus says:

      Good Luck with your first fight Dave, hit me up on my facebook page ‘James the colossus Thompson’ or on my twitter @jcolossus and let me know how you get on. Either way, all the best m8

  16. bob says:

    first time reading any of your writing man, blog or otherwise. thank you for very insightful piece. in this arena or in the ring you always bring it and again in both the true fans are thankful. keep up good work and take care of yourself

  17. the kind of comedy says:

    really man?
    damn i wish you didn’t take all that GHB in pride we could of seen more colossus fights
    people can say whatever they want about you but when it comes to fighting you fucking BRING IT
    never a boring fight whenever james thompson is in the house

  18. Alexey Cardo says:

    I think that’s what would suit perfectly the Fighters Only magazine! They pay good attention to the deeps of the sport…

    Great reading! Thank you very much!

  19. afanperson says:

    Very interesting read, I agree with what you said, thanks for sharing. I’ll look forward to seeing your next fight, good luck!

  20. Matty H says:

    Wicked stuff, love the wit and love the topic. If Rashad wasn’t talking so much when Machida hit him he may not have gone out so cold. Every single blog you’ve done has been brill buddy.

  21. Cymru Pete says:

    Thanks for your honesty James – There are so many fighters that avoid painful subjects such as this, probably due to never coming to terms with the reality of where they are. You always put on entertaining fights and as far as the fans are concerned that’s by far the most important thing. I’m sure 100% of people who come face to face with you would never dream of suggesting you was ‘chinny’. Good luck with your future fights mate and keep up the good work with the blogs.

  22. Tom says:

    Honestly, James, my long-standing impression of watching you was that the only thing you were missing was a midget strapped to your back and a Thunderdome. But after reading through your blog, all I can say is that you’re a far, far better writer than most of the supposed journalists that riddle this industry. Please keep writing; I’ll definitely keep reading. Best of luck!

  23. Julio says:

    That was a great read, very insightful and well written.

    James you’re the man!!!

  24. Lobo says:

    Pretty good article, man. This is a subject people often don’t talk about and that people just don’t know right, but you explained it well, and i agree with you in the things that make a chin.

    I did not known you had such past with drugs and night outs, i’m glad you changed. Nowadays people don’t seem to grow up, so it’s always good to see guys like you as an example for us young guys that live among tons of idiots. Glad you’re well now too.

    Well, about the chin, I’m fighting now and i have been punched HARD once and got some solid punches to the face and it did not feel so bad, but i’m scared to death of being KO’d. hahahah The thing you said about people not dealing with it is true, i’ve seen people be depressed and start to become gun shy because of it. Seeing how you deal with being punched and your previous losses kind of conforts me. Because if someday it happens, instead of quitting i’ll try to motivate myself to work harder so it don’t happens again.

    Can’t wait for the next article. :)

    • jcolossus says:

      The worst thing you can do Lobo, it over think things. Anytime you get into the csge/ring you’re risking being K.O’d, that’s just part pf the game. If it happens, it happens. It’s not good and no one wants it (appart from your opponent) but you just have to get on with it. If you thnk about it to much it’s much more likely to happen- like a self fufilling prophecy. So accept it as part of the game, train hard and good luck in the future m8

  25. Alex says:

    i thought you were a stupid chav when i saw your fights, you’re actually a pretty insightful lad. Good on you mate

  26. Raj D says:

    Great read and insight big man. Look forward to the next one. Honesty and humbleness is very refreshing to see

    Raj

  27. Patricio says:

    “I will be as frank and painfully honest as possible to tackle this subject head on”. I think that’s the main reason why i read your blogs. Thank for your honesty. Cheers Colossus!

  28. Luke says:

    When is the book coming out!?

    I will reserve on copy in advance!

  29. Sterlingz says:

    Write a fuckin book man!

    • jcolossus says:

      haha if only it were so simple! One day maybe i will m8, but enjoying blogging for the time being. Few more years and a few more stories and maybe then. Cheers M8

  30. Ray says:

    Another good read James, I love how honest you are.

  31. Kawika says:

    Best mma blog ive read in years. Someone posted this on reddit in the mma section. Keep them coming James! You are a terrific writer!

  32. Greg says:

    Really enjoy reading your blog – keep it up!

  33. Mines_Of_Moria says:

    James, the MMA community really loves your blog posts. They are well written and very interesting, keep it up! Your article was posted on reddit’s MMA community – http://www.reddit.com/r/MMA/comments/vbs31/new_blog_post_from_james_thompson_i_think_theyre/

    • jcolossus says:

      Cheers m8 good of you to say, I wondered where the reddit community was as they didnt show up on the day i posted the blog. Like reading the comments from the guys there- good & bad lol

  34. Darren says:

    Hey man another great piece of writing. Love to read all these pieces from an active fighter. By the way, any idea when your next fight is?

  35. Josh says:

    Well written and insightful as always. Keep it going!

  36. Jim Allcorn says:

    Wow. Bloody EXCELLENT blog post James ( or do you go by Jim casually too? )
    This is the first I’ve seen of it ( I was led here by Fightlinker.com ) & most definitely not the last time I’ll be reading it. Far from it. I’ve got it linked up on my bookmarks/favorites now.
    Before I go on, not to be redundant but, I feel it necessary to address this. Though I’ve followed your career for years now ( & have experienced a lot of damned good excitement in the process ), I never really took the time to think much about what you were like outside the ring/cage. But, that said, I must admit to having some silly preconceived notions that you might not be the obviously insightful & intelligent individual that you are. And for that, I’d like to apologize.
    As a longtime former fighter myself ( boxing ), I’m all too used to how folks that perceive things about you that just aren’t true. So, I should have known better my friend.
    Anyhow, back to your piece. Again, it’s terrific.
    As someone who’s lone real gift ( it was often said ) was my ability to soak up an amazing amount of punishment, without ever going down, I’ve long wondered what it was is that makes one fighter a George Chuvalo & the other a Frank Bruno. Not that I would ever dare to place myself into the elite level of a Chuvalo. He was a world class top contender that faced virtually ALL of the best of his era ( aside from Henry Cooper, Ken Norton & Earnie Shavers ) without getting dropped, while I was just a local lad that mixed with average opponents in going 17-5. But, other than one stoppage on cuts, I was pretty durable.
    In my case, I think I was just born with an hard head & a thick neck, because, even during my earliest sparring sessions when I had two left feet & knew nothing of defense ( two things that arguably, NEVER changed… LOL ), when some pretty good bangers tried to take a few liberties with me, I remained upright to their wonder.
    But, whose to say that it didn’t hamper me down the line in that I never really learned any head movement. Far from it in fact, as I never became more than a sturdy walk in puncher, who’d take two ( or three… sometime SIX! ) to land one. That I had a solid body attack & punch got me through to an alright record in the end, but I was just a clubfighter.
    Had I not been lazy & just relied on my whiskers to get me through, maybe I’d have been a bit better. Probably not, but…
    So, there are several different ways to look at this subject indeed.

    Well, I’ve gone WAY over my limit i’m sure, so I’ll say peace for now pal.
    Keep up the good work in both fighting & writing.

    • jcolossus says:

      Thanks for the kind words Jim, often get people saying the same thing about ‘judging a book by it’s cover’ but it’s all good. It’s not the first thing you think about, the persons background, history or what their like as a person.. you just watch the guy fight. It’d all be a bit much to weigh up when you just want to watch a good fight. Do wonder how much is natural and what you’re born with as opposed to how much you might want to win. I think is a mixture of a lot of different things to be honest. Thanks for reading pal

  37. James says:

    First off, i’ve never questioned your chin at all. Look at the guys who have hit you! I dare say if Aleksander Emelianenko or Brett Rodgers hit anyone on earth with those punches, the result would be a K.O. Second off, your a true fighter and I’m a big fan. I’ve been watching this sport since ufc 2 and i’m afraid that breed of fighter who will fight anyone at anytime is becoming rare. “Fighters” rejecting fights because they only have 6 weeks to prepare? Really? Gameplans that involve not getting hit at all? Not you my friend. You bring the fight every time and I’ll always be a fan. Rock on James!

  38. Tez says:

    I liked this blog entry a lot and think it would be kinda cool if you did some more on “the dark years” (2006-2010).

    I agree with everyone who said you should do a book.

  39. Adam says:

    fantastic article m8. looking forward to the next one! hope your eye heals up soon

  40. Jamie says:

    Don’t normally comment, but this is really well written, should try to get the blog as a regular thing in one of the big mma magazines

  41. Hal Incandenza says:

    Just stumbled upon this, but this is a great blog! Actually thought about using GHB myself, well, that settles it for me then^^ Great articles, I will keep following!

  42. […] Posted by Dr Gearbox He never remembers anyone though. Probably due to GHB abuse The many faces of the Chin | Colossal Concerns . Reply With […]

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