Okay, minute but decisive genetic differences that encourage the production of fast twitch muscle fibers. Is that what you want to hear?
Unimaginable will power.
Or custom design undetectable Steroids and EPO
Being in the right place at the right time. Getting into the right sport at the right time. Using that time effectively. Eating the right amount at the right time. Training the right amount at the right time. Being born at the right time. Having good timing against punches, kicks, subs, escapes.
Everything comes down to timing.
tim·ing (t m ng) n. 1. The regulation of occurrence, pace, or coordination to achieve a desired effect, as in music, the theater, athletics, or mechanics.
Anderson Silva was probably born with natural talent and he develops that talent into skill and speed with specific training methods that are not the same at other camps. I bet Cain Velasquez has ten times the wrestling experience of, say, JDS. His fighting style, as well as Anderson Silva's, is quite different from other fighters. Most likely, the quality of Jose Aldo's kickboxing training, and the degree to which he picked it up, is not equivalent to that of other lightweights. GSP might be one of the most coachable, well-disciplined fighters of the past century.
I have never fought anyone in a ring or a cage. I have only sparred. Full contact in TSD back in the day and hard sparring only for a brief time trying to learn MMA, so I'm only qualified to guess. I feel memorable champions are those who are willing to risk everything. And like some, champs may have developed better ways of addressing and processing their fears.
This subject interests me. The subject of greatness in general, not just fighting. I've given it a lot of thought.
I think one of the biggest factors is the quality and intensity of their early training in whatever the activity is. One thing I've noticed is that the people who turn out to be the greats are very often great early on in their training. They continue to develop throughout the years but they were already the **** after a short period of time. Some examples that jump out at me:
I've noticed this with many famous guitarists. They practice hard and get good early. Slash picked up a guitar for the first time when he was 14. By the time he was 20, he was writing the riffs for Appetite for Destruction and he had already been playing professionally for a couple years by then. When he started playing, he skipped school and played for like 12 hours per day.
Same with Eddie Van Halen. During his early years he sat in his bedroom and practiced. That's pretty much all he did. Compare this to players who plug away for decades and still suck ass. I think intense early practice creates a synergistic effect. Normal players may have the same amount of practice after 10 years that Ed had after two years, but they're still not as good at 10 years as he was at two.
Tiger Woods comes to mind. Everybody has seen the videos of him as a kid practicing his ass off with his father jingling change in his pocket to distract him.
Oh yeah - the Jacksons, learning to dance and sing with Joe all up their ass pushing for perfection.
Football players. When you're watching an NFL game on Sunday how often do you hear the phrase "son of a coach" or something to that effect when they're talking about great players?
Take a look at those you think are great. Research their earliest training and find out at what point they really began to stand out. For most of the best, it was very early on. You'll find exceptions of course. I'm not trying to make it out to be some hard and fast rule. Just my observations.
Ever heard of the story of the drowned sailors?
Sailors who were about to drown prayed for their rescue and later tell of how their spirituality has saved them...
Problem is, nobody is telling you the story of the sailors who just prayed as vigorously and much and didn't make it.
For everybody who makes it (be that sports, film, musik etc.) there are thousands who didn't make it but nobody is talking about them or looking at them.
For somebody to become outstanding I think a couple of things have to come together...
Talent, dedication, timing, luck/fortune/chance.
If you are lacking any of them, you won't make it. That is why peoples feats are considered so memorable because it is so hard to come by all of them at the same time.
I think the luck argument was more valid a couple decades ago. Now, it's a hell of a lot easier to get noticed if you're better than everyone else at something. This is especially true of fighters. It's pretty hard not to get noticed when you leave a heap of broken bodies in your wake.