Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” It’s a maxim that has stuck with many in the fight game, as it speaks to how the countless hours of preparation a fighter puts in before a fight can all go out the window in the blink of an eye.
In only his second professional fight, Lyman Good experienced a more brutal version of this life lesson—what the hell do you do when your dominant hand is broken and one of your bones is poking through the skin?
Easy. Just keep using it until you knock that motherfucker out.
“It broke on the very first punch I threw,” Good says. “I aimed for the face, but he shot in and I ended up hitting the top of the head. As it landed, I felt and heard the sound, and I knew it was fractured. I just didn’t think it was actually sticking out of the skin.
“I fought the whole fight like that,” Good continues. “You’ll be surprised to know what adrenaline will get you through. Sure enough, I kept hitting with it and sure enough I ended up knocking the guy out with the same hand. As they were pulling off my glove I felt this current, this shock of electricity going up my arm. They peeked through the glove and saw there was a bone sticking out.”
That scar is a trophy that Good carries with him to this day, an always-present reminder of how he was able to overcome adversity and persevere. From the comfort of your recliner, with a cold brew in your hand, it’s pretty easy to watch a UFC fight and think that you’re capable of holding your own in the octagon. You’ll be sitting there thinking about how if you hit the gym just a couple more times a month… but you’re dreadfully wrong.
Training for a fight isn’t a thing that can be done in a few weeks. It’s not even a job, something you only do 40 hours a week. “It’s your whole life,” Good says. “Every day. Even on your days off, it’s still your life because what you do on your time off still plays a factor in your conditioning.”
In a sport with no off-season, Good focuses on three very important factors to aid him as he prepares to do battle. First, he focuses on his diet—making sure to cut out the things detrimental to his fitness (junk food, booze, etc.) while still getting enough sustenance to endure three training sessions a day. The second factor is the ability to recover from the workouts. Last, and perhaps most important, is getting proper and regular sleep.
“You have to be able to sustain the amount of brutality on your body without injuries,” Good says. “There’s such a high likelihood of an injury because you’re training so often, you have to be able to know when you’re pushing your body too hard. That takes the experience of a fighter. It takes doing it for a long time to know how to ride the wave and listen to your body.”
It should be obvious that being in peak physical shape is required to compete with the best of the best in the UFC. What might be a surprise is the extensive amount of mental preparation that goes into a fight. Meditating and visualizing every possible thing that could happen in the octagon is a key component in Good’s preparation.
“As soon as I know who my opponent is I put them on the wallpaper of my phone, so I’m looking at him at all times,” Good says. “He’s the only thing I’m thinking about. I commit everything to a fight, every drop of who I am and my being is for that fight.”
Good’s dedication to the sport is about much more than his record and the paycheck. Every fiber of his being is tied into what happens in the cage. As such, fighting affects him in ways that transcend sport. Fighting dominates his diet. It dominates how he spends his free time. It dominates everything.
“I always say that fighting is a selfish act, as it should be,” Good explains. “It’s about putting all distractions aside. You don’t hang out, you don’t socialize. Everything is for your fight. Each fight is a transformative thing. It changes you as a man. It carves you out.”
Born and raised in Spanish Harlem, Good’s life could have gone a lot of different ways. Good bounced around a couple of schools when he was younger. His mother saw a lot of anger in young Lyman and she was afraid that she would lose her son to the streets if she didn’t find somewhere he could channel that rage. “I grew up around a lot of anger,” Good says. “I guess that’s the product of living in a gun-toting, gangbanging, drug-dealing kind of neighborhood.”
His mom thought having her son throw himself into a hobby would help, something active and dynamic that would occupy his attention and get out all of that energy and anger within. They asked around, did some research, and soon Good was at a gym learning mixed martial arts.
As he fell in love with the sport, Good threw his entire body and soul into getting ready for that first fight. As he stepped into the ring for the first time, he felt a rush unlike any other, an unmistakable energy that manifests when you know every mistake you make could lead to you laying on the canvas. It was at that moment Good knew this was not just a hobby, but something he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing.
It may feel like a cliché by now, but when Good steps into that ring he feels like he’s going into battle. You don’t want to go into battle empty handed, so Good had his armor attached to him permanently in the form of some sick black-and-grey tattoos.
His sleeve tells his life story. From the chain mail that protects him to the raven that symbolizes his transformation, each piece reveals more about his personality. “There’s this wolf on my forearm that symbolizes loyalty,” Good explains. “I’m loyal to everything that my heart has been poured into, without fail. I have Latin here as well, which says, ‘Through the gates of fire, I rise from the ashes.’ Which means, all those things in life that were meant to burn me have only made me stronger.”
Those words sum up Lyman Good’s entire life. Every trial and tribulation that he has faced, he’s reached deep and found a way to overcome it. For as long as his body will allow him, he’ll keep on fighting the good fight.