When it comes to the days and hours leading up to a fight, regardless of the combat, there are many ways that a fighter can show their state, personality, and confidence. From their skills at the open training session to trash-talking during the press conferences and weigh-ins.
But the main way of showing these three characteristics is right before the fight, with minutes to go, being their entrances.
Entrances are a critical component of combat sports. They allow fighters to showcase their personality while psyching out their opponents. A well-planned entrance can set the tone for the entire fight and create an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation for the crowd.
We’ll investigate some examples of entrances that perfectly show characteristics and factors that can make them the most memorable of all time.
When it comes to factors that can completely change the way fights go, a fighter with home-field advantage can have the atmosphere factor already in play before the fight even begins. With this, having an entrance that caters to the fans to have them at maximum support.
Having arguably the most passionate fans in the world, it’s no surprise that the examples of MMA homecoming entrances all come from England with Ricky Hatton and Josh Warrington.
Hatton was coming off his first career loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr when he defended his IBF Light Heavyweight title against Juan Lazcano in his hometown of Manchester, inside the stadium of his boyhood football club in Manchester City. The fight was fittingly dubbed ‘Homecoming’(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSU898x-YVA)
At his entrance in the video, Hatton is wearing the sky blue of Manchester City and coming out to Blue Moon, which is mainly used as a club song for the club. With a record-breaking 55,000 of his adamant supporters (a record for boxing attendance until 2014), Hatton would scrape the win by unanimous decision.
In a similar style to Hatton, John Warrington uses his city’s identity as well, although for the West Yorkshire city of Leeds.
Having fought in front of his hometown for many of his fights, there are many examples of his entrances that can be listed, but they all follow the same way. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am9LmHQtnm0) When he first comes out the song ‘Marching All Together’ plays which is the club song for Leeds United, then switched to the bellowing sounds of Leeds band the Kaiser Chiefs with ‘I Predict a Riot’. The crowd being worked up into a frenzy is the keyway to having at least the atmosphere on your side.
Usually, fighters would want to channel their grandiose feelings of superiority for fights, and both sports have had plenty of them, but for me, the main two would have to be Conor McGregor and Naseem Hamad.
Though he has taken a back seat over the last few years, it can’t be denied that for several years Conor McGregor owned the combat sports world. A major factor in his success was his hype and his entrance.
With fog encasing the octagon as the Irish Tricolour rings out alongside Shuhada’ Sadaqat’s (birth name Sinéad O’Connor) rendition of the Irish rebel song ‘Foggy Dew’. The atmosphere becomes eerie until McGregor heads into the arena with Biggie Smalls’ ‘Hypnotize’ as the arena erupts and a superstar has arrived. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OauiDxAa5_I&t=34s)
From the king of the UFC, we move now to the prince of boxing with Prince Naseem Hamad. When it comes to flashy, over-the-top entrances from entering a fight via an elevator, to being carried by a palanquin, Hamad was one of the main stars of this type of entrance, but these would pale in comparison to his entrance for his fight on the 11th of March 2000.
Fighting for the WBO Featherweight Title against Vuyani Bungu, Hamad decided to enter the fight the only way he knew how: on a flying carpet over the arena. Yes, you heard me. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPu68CTvwCA) This stunt worked the crowd into a frenzy in addition to his traditional front flip over the ropes to enter the ring.
This helped in many ways with confidence for Hamad as he would win by knockout in the fourth round. These examples of people building a larger-than-life persona for their fighting careers shows how pomp and circumstances can help make these fighters successful.
This is a key aspect that only a few people can master to the point of making their opponents genuinely terrified of what they are going to face. From either sport, no one remotely comes close to Mike Tyson.
‘The baddest man on the planet’ was a nickname that was extremely warranted for Tyson’s actions in and out of the ring but no more than his cold entrances where there wasn’t anything flashy, just a song and the motionless face of Tyson.
The main example of this type of intimidating entrance would be his fight on the 16th of January, 1999 in Las Vegas against Francois Botha. For context, this being the first time Mike Tyson was in the ring since his disqualification against Evander Holyfield where he bit off a part of Holyfield’s ear. It also was in the same venue as the previous fight.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGGxlPE7FZY) Coated in a black shirt with the words ‘Be Real’ on it with the starting of church bells ringing throughout the arena as the bells transition to ‘Intro’ by DMX. With the song swelling, Tyson appeared cool, calm, and intimidating as ever. Tyson would win the fight by knockout in Round 5.
In conclusion, there are many ways fighters decide how they present themselves. The art of the entrance is one major factor that can showcase and help the fighters have the atmosphere in their favour which is arguably the most important thing to have in combat sports.