If you ever doubted the mean mug as a powerful tool in the world of fighting, then you should stop it right now. There is now scientific evidence that could indicate an authentic mean mug is an effective defensive technique for fighters. Joe Rogan is already well aware of that and that’s why he gets so intensely wrapped up pre-fight staredowns. The Diaz brothers have some of the best mean mugs in the game and they are authentic. These brothers have been naturally mean mugging since the 2nd grade. Mean mugging is in their blood, and scientific research now indirectly tells us that we should in fact be scared of this, homie.
According to a study completed by two psychological scientific type guys and posted on the American Psychological Association’s website, fighters who smile in pre-fight staredown pics are more likely to the fight the next day. Here’s a bit directly from the article:
Michael Kraus and Teh-Way David Chen recruited four coders (blind to the aims of the study) to assess the presence of smiles, and smile intensity, in photographs taken of 152 fighters in 76 face-offs. Fighter smiles were mostly “non-Duchenne”, with little or no crinkling around the eyes. Data on the fights was then obtained from official UFC statistics. The researchers wanted to test the idea that in this context, smiles are an involuntary signal of submission and lack of aggression, just as teeth baring is in the animal kingdom.
Consistent with the researchers’ predictions, fighters who smiled more intensely prior to a fight were more likely to lose, to be knocked down in the clash, to be hit more times, and to be wrestled to the ground by their opponent (statistically speaking, the effect sizes here were small to medium). On the other hand, fighters with neutral facial expressions pre-match were more likely to excel and dominate in the fight the next day, including being more likely to win by knock-out or submission.
These associations between facial expression and fighting performance held even after controlling for betting behavior by fans, which suggests a fighter’s smile reveals information about their lack of aggression beyond what is known by experts. Moreover, the psychological meaning of a pre-match smile appeared to be specific to that fight – no associations were found between pre-match smiles and performance in later, unrelated fights. Incidentally, smaller fighters smiled more often, consistent with the study’s main thesis, but smiling was still linked with poorer fight performance after factoring out the role of size (in other words, smiling was more than just an indicator of physical inferiority).
Smiling is great and all but when it comes to fighting, most of us around here prefer to see a really intense staredown. If you think back to some your favorite staredowns and the fights that ensued afterwards-I bet most of them didn’t include smiling faces. [Source]