Of course there was the perfect punch with the perfect timing and incredible power but how was he able to pull that rabbit out of the hat? Fedor is not a magician, and looking at the replays, it was clearly not luck but perfectly timed. I believe from observation his win and many of his wins were 90% mental and that is the edge that the greatest performers in any competition have.
Arlovski was clearly winning the fight from a physical point of view. He is physically superior: bigger, stronger, faster, with better reach and better kickboxing. He was throwing more shots and landing a higher percentage. Looking back now, however, I don’t think Fedor was “rocked”. I think he was very surprised, but somehow he kept his composure whereas Arlovski completely lost his. Arlovski said himself he went off the game plan his team gave him and he didn’t know why.
Fedor in contrast says he has no game plans. He also says he is just naturally relaxed. Both of those statements may be true, but probably not the whole truth. He kept a tighter higher guard with his right hand against Cro Cop. He probably planned to get inside Sylvia’s reach. He has also stated in separate interviews he tries to cultivate that calmness and control of his emotions. Ironically, he does not seem to be playing an intimidation game; he does not stare down his opponents; he never trash talks (actually, saying he has no game plan and waits for a mistake is brilliant subtle trash talk – so subtle and psychological, no one will notice the psychological edge they are losing); but Freddie Roach was right. Fedor’s mythology gets inside his opponent’s head even before a fight begins. On the other hand, no opponent seems to get inside his head.
So I am guessing Arlovski just got too excited he was on the cusp of actually being able to beat this legend he kept saying is “just human”. He decided to throw the flying knee. His timing was way off. He knows he shouldn’t have done it. The mistake was 100% mental. There is no other explanation for that mistake.
Fedor, in contrast, kept his composure and won primarily because of his mentally superior game. That is what allowed him an opportunity to throw the one perfect punch he needed despite looking like he was losing. Arlovski had better tools except for the most important one, the mind. That is what allowed Fedor to come back from Randleman’s slam. Tiger Woods’ dad said no one is mentally tougher than Tiger, but Fedor seems to be right up there. At the very least, no mma fighter has a better mental game. I thought martial artists were supposed to cultivate equanimity through meditation. It’s not clear anyone else in mma even works on it. The only other fighter who seems close to having this relaxed composure is Machida.