In Your Corner

The second I step out of the cage and my fighter is on his own, I know it will be the longest five minutes of my life. All I can do now is yell instructions, and that’s an important job. At the bigger shows, the crowd drowns out my voice. Fans are going wild, the arena is full of energy, the 10-second warning sounds, I count down under my breath until the bell rings—60 seconds to prepare for another round of battle. A good corner man can energize his fighter,turn the momentum in his favor, and keep him going both mentally and physically. So, what makes a good corner?




The corner’s job during the rounds is to observe and feed the fighter necessary information. The corner is the fighter’s second set of eyes. Some fighters like a constant stream of information,while others just need the occasional word of encouragement. Here are three important aspects that a corner needs to be vigilant of.


Hands, Chin, Feet


You would think that fighters could remember the most intrinsic parts of the stand up game—hands up, chin down, on your toes. But they don’t always, especially when they are tired or hurt.




The corner is constantly looking for openings and holes in the opponent’s game. Many camps will use their own vocabulary to feed this information to the fighter (I may yell “GSP” when I want a blast double).




Is the fighter supposed to be clinching, shooting, throwing punch-kick combos? Sometimes the corner needs to remind the fighter of this. Usually these are simple cues that have been put into place before the fight.




It is rare for the camera to focus on one corner for the full 60 seconds between rounds.What we usually miss on TV is the fine line between a well-oiled machine and total chaos. Generally, a corner has two to four people in it. Two will enter the cage. Each person has a function that needs to be performed quickly. Here’s a breakdown.


10 seconds


Two corner men enter the cage with a bucket and stool, remove the fighter’s mouthpiece, and give him water. The fighter is told to take a deep breath.


10 to 20 seconds


Ice is applied to fighter’s back. His face is checked for cuts, and any cuts are closed (this will be done by the cut man for the rest of the break). The fighter is told to take another deep breath.


20 to 50 seconds


The fighter is told how he is doing. Strategy for the next round is discussed. One or two suggestions are made, and the fighter is asked to repeat back what he’s been told. “You’re doing great, that was a close round. I am going to need you to push the pace a little more with your hands. Look for your double off his punches. Keep circling away from that rear kick.” Vaseline is put on his face.


50 to 60 seconds


The fighter is given a last sip of water and his mouthpiece is put back in. Corners must gather the bucket and stool and exit.




A bad corner can just as easily snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Here are some common mistakes.


Losing Control


When too many people are talking and important things are not getting done, it can be a disaster. Everyone needs to know their role and stick to it. How many times have you seen the corner forget the stool?


Too Much Information


Most fighters can’t process lots of information in 60 seconds. It’s certainly not the time to teach new techniques. It is the lead cornerman’s responsibility to quickly analyze the situation and make a decision on what points need to be addressed.


Not Being Honest


Let the fighter know if he is losing. Give him a chance to go for broke if he needs to. I hate watching a fighter cruise in a final round when he is losing.


Don’t Panic


If your fighter is going back out for the next round, that means he still has a chance. It’s the corners job to get him back on track.




Like all skills, cornering a fighter takes practice. The best cornermen have worked thousands of rounds under all types of conditions.It’s a great advantage when the corner knows the fighter intimately. They should know when a fighter needs a confident word or a kick in the pants. The corner needs to understand the fighter’s psyche and tailor their actions and responses accordingly.A good corner will send its fighter back out refreshed with one or two options for the next round and confidence that he can win the fight.

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