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Top 3 MMA Fighter vs Home Invader…Lessons Learned

Anthony Smith, a top 3 ranked UFC Light Heavyweight fighter, woke up to an unknown man in his home around 4am. Here are some of the lessons that you should take away from this encounter:

The neighborhood Anthony lives in is a very low crime area in general and people are comfortable, unworried about violent crime. Complacency kills, there are certain things that you can be lax about, home security is not one of them, consistency is key.

The garage door was left up and man door from garage to the home left unlocked. Doors must be closed and locked if you want any chance of an alert that someone is attempting to enter your home.

The Smith’s have an alarm system that was not armed/on the night that this incident happened. I suspect as with most people that have security systems this was not the only night that the system was left off. Locks on doors and alarm systems do you no good if you do not actually use them CONSISTENTLY!!!

Anthony was woken up by his wife who told him that someone was in the house, this happened because the intruder screamed at the top of his lungs upon entering the home. Had he not announced himself in this way, Anthony could’ve been woken up by this intruder over him in bed or worse to the screams of his children from their room if the intruder had chosen to go there first. Again, early warning systems such as cameras, alarm systems, and physical barriers such as locking your doors must be used to give you precious seconds to ready yourself for attack.

When Anthony came out of his bedroom, the intruder was only 15’ from him, putting him in immediate danger from the intruder. If and how you chose to come out of your room to confront an intruder can be the deciding factor in the engagement depending on what each of you bring to the fight.

Anthony admittedly owns at least one firearm that he “usually” has at his bedside, but on this night, it wasn’t there or accessible to him from his bedroom. Having this tool would have given him an additional option (a lethal one) to confront the intruder without having to go hands on while not knowing anything about the intruder including if he was armed or alone. Having a firearm within arms reach for the purposes of self-defense isn’t something you can do 99.9% of the time, it needs to be 100% of the time. No exceptions, no days off if you want to know you’ll be prepared for when that moment comes.

Anthony briefly froze when he first saw the intruder. In my opinion, he was in disbelief that a complete stranger was in his home advancing toward him even though Anthony had heard him moments earlier, this visual confirmation shocked him. From what he says in the interview, Anthony has a fighter mindset (albeit not complete) and quickly made calculations that he was the only thing standing in the gap between his family and the intruder. That he could potentially be killed during the next few minutes of this encounter but decided to go forward and meet it head on anyways. I say his mindset is incomplete because if it was a complete fighter mindset, the doors would’ve been locked, alarm system armed, firearm within arm’s reach, and had an actual plan that was rehearsed prior to this home invasion. Instead what you get is pure reaction to the stimuli that is presented to him and his family without any preparation or previsions made. Pure chaos, as Anthony described it probably couldn’t be stated any more accurately. Your home is your chessboard, set it up so that you’ll never lose or at the very least, so you have a few seconds to enact your defense plan.

Anthony said he struggled to control the intruder and was surprised how strong he was despite his size advantage. If a top UFC 205lb (probably weighed 230ish at the time this happened) contender struggles to incapacitate someone with strikes that weighs roughly 60lbs less than them and is untrained, how do you think you’ll do in an actual life threatening fight? Are you willing to bet your life or your family’s that you can knock the other guy out or be able to hold him down long enough for the police to arrive, assuming they are coming?

Many are saying Anthony should’ve choked him out. Those commenting are armed with the full details of the situation and are sitting at a desk comfortably (hindsight is 20/20). Anthony didn’t know if the intruder had any weapons or if he was alone, thus being able to strike him and disengage from him at any moment was probably the best move given the situation presented to him and Anthony not having any weapons immediately accessible to him either.

Anthony speculates what would’ve happened if he hadn’t been there and his wife was the person who had made first contact with the intruder. He says there was absolutely no way she could’ve physically challenged the man he fought with. In that scenario how much would a firearm and the training to use it be worth to Anthony, his wife, and family? Currently the firearm is the best technological answer afforded to the defender who finds themselves with a large physical disadvantage in a life or death fight.

During the fight the intruder says he’s not alone and starts yelling out a name as if to call another person to is aid. Anthony then realizes the jeopardy he is in and that he won’t be able to control another person if they enter the fight. Having the tools and training to immediately incapacitate someone is the equalizer when faced with multiple attackers because no matter how good a hand to hand fighter you are, your advantage dramatically decreases with each additional attacker against you, even more so if weapons are employed by them.

At one point a family member brought Anthony a kitchen knife in the middle of the scuffle because he wasn’t sure if another intruder was in the house and felt he needed a lethal option to immediately incapacitate the first intruder so he could engage the second one should they present themselves. Anthony put the knife up to the intruder but never cut or stabbed him with it but said he would’ve buried it into the intruder if another attacker confronted him. Another intruder didn’t enter the fight and Anthony had to put the knife down on the ground because he could no longer control the intruder with one hand. This is a calculated gamble as introducing a lethal option into this confrontation could turn the tables if the intruder were able to gain control of it, that said so would a second intruder showing up in the middle of fight without having a way to immediately incapacitate the first intruder. Another option is to restrain the intruder, if you have gained and can maintain control of them. I recommend running the intruder out of your home as soon as possible, but in this circumstance that wasn’t going to happen and a family member brought the defender a knife, they could have just as easily brought zipties, duct tape, or handcuffs if they were in the home. I say this because despite having the knife, Anthony was unwilling to use it and it only made maintaining control of the intruder more difficult since he only had one hand to do it with now. If he was unwilling to use the tool brought to him, then why bring it? I’m betting if Anthony was brought something to restrain the intruder with, he would’ve attempted to use it.

In the middle of the fight Anthony is trying to get information from this intruder, he was successful in getting information from him, however the information he got was not accurate. The intruder told Anthony that there was a second intruder and that he had a weapon on him, luckily neither were true. Information given from the intruder/attacker is unreliable at best and purposely misleading at worst, basing decisions on this information can have dire consequences. If Anthony had believed the intruder and decided to “bury” the knife into him, it would’ve been a much more traumatic situation for Anthony, his family, and obviously the young intruder.

Anthony said that the entire physical encounter lasted 5-6 minutes before the police arrived. At one point, he questioned if he would be able to hold the intruder until help arrived. Anthony is in shape, currently less than 2wks out from a fight and should be near peaking in his physical performance. That said, he was struggling to the point that he questioned if he had enough endurance to outlast the intruder. Do you have enough endurance to fight for your life for 7 minutes? (7 minutes is the average first responder response time nationally) If you live far off the beaten path it’ll be much longer, so much in fact, you had better be able to solve the problem yourself with 20-30 minute plus response times depending on the area and department resources.

Anthony said “I guess you just get comfortable” when discussing the missteps of leaving the garage open, the alarm system off, the gun he left in his bag instead of being at his nightstand. Complacency kills, don’t become so comfortable that you allow yourself to make multiple mistakes. As you have seen throughout this incident, it was a chain of events that led up to the physical conflict. If the garage had been shut and doors locked, the guy probably wouldn’t have gained access to his home. If the alarm system was armed it might have alerted Anthony’s family and potentially scared off the intruder when he came through the man door from the garage to the house. If Anthony would’ve had his firearm, he potentially could’ve avoided the physical encounter, the risks associated with it, and been better prepared for multiple attackers. Training with that firearm would’ve been a big factor on how that unfolded as well as target identification with a light and so on.

Final Thoughts

The entire encounter was handled without any death or permanent injuries. It easily could’ve been much worse. The mental trauma of Anthony’s small children and wife hearing the screaming, fighting, and seeing the blood left all over his living room area will be the real long-term damage caused from this to him and his family. Anthony admits that you “visualize what you would do in a situation like this, but you’re never really ready for it” meaning you never know when something like this could happen. If he’d had a suspicion that a guy was coming that night, I bet he would’ve shut and locked his doors, armed the alarm system, had his firearm at the bedside, had a plan, etc…but we never know when our test will come. This entire situation most likely could’ve been avoided for Anthony and his family had he simply remembered to have closed his garage door. The old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure still rings true. Building good security habits (consistency) is the key. As Jocko Willink would say, “discipline equals freedom” because you’ve had the discipline to prepare and build good security habits, you need not have worry or live in fear and possibly have confidence when a crisis emerges. Please use this example and look at your current home security habits and setup to make your situation better.

For You Know Not The Hour…

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