By Eric Holden | Yahoo! Contributor Network – 1 hour 4 minutes ago
Is it mere coincidence that some of the most heavily-bearded UFC fighters in history also happen to be among the least likely to suffer losses by way of knockout?
Roy "Big Country" Nelson comes to mind when I think of a current UFC fighter who sports thick chin whiskers, and he has never been knocked out in seven octagon appearances.
Fear The Beard
Nelson has a granite chin, but I can't help but feel that his beard provides at least a slight advantage.
There has never been a scientific study done on the benefits of having a beard in a MMA fight, but common sense would dictate that adding an extra layer of protection would soften the powerful effects of a punch to one's chin.
Ever since Kimbo Slice sported a thick beard during his 2009 tilt against Houston Alexander in the Ultimate Fighter 10 finale, fight fans have been wondering if a manly tuft of facial hair essentially works as a cushion to soften blows from incoming punches that would have otherwise landed flush on the chin.
Miesha Tate's Assessment
Since there has never been a legitimate study done on the subject, the only reliable sources who would know the true answer are the fighters themselves.
However, even the experts are at odds with each other when it comes to determining if a beard gives a fighter an unfair advantage.
Former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champ Miesha Tate (@mieshatate) said on Twitter "@EricHolden I bet [having a beard] helps the punches slide off the chin instead of sticking."
Tate clearly thinks that a fighter having a hearty beard would give him an unfair advantage, but world-renowned MMA announcer and commentator Mauro Ranallo disagreed with her assessment.
Ranallo (@mauroranallo) simply replied "No," when I asked him via Twitter if a fighter having a beard would give him an unfair advantage.
In a similar tactic involving facial hair, I have heard of fighters going a few days without shaving their faces before a fight, just to add an extra scraping effect when going face-to-face with an opponent in the clinch.
Using a beard to cushion the blow of a punch, and utilizing facial scruff to scrape an opponent's face, makes me feel like the UFC should ban beards altogether.
On the other hand, if having a beard creates a significant unfair advantage, why don't more fighters sport them? None of the current UFC title holders are bearded even though having facial hair is perfectly legal in the league.
Does having a beard give UFC fighters a slight advantage? Let me know in the comments.