Reading when a punch is coming in a fight is an important skill to have and is usually developed after years of hard training, particularly in the realm of sparring.
Anderson Silva in his prime was excellent at reading punches and predicting his opponent's attacks in a fight. He saw what was coming a mile away and that gave him a huge advantage over his opponents.
In the following video, former UFC fighter Alan Belcher demonstrates some ways in which we can read when a punch is coming, whether in an MMA fight or a self-defense situation.
The former UFC middleweight's first piece of advice to predicting attacks is to cause the opponent to throw what you want them to/are expecting. For example if every time you throw a jab your opponent throws a right hook, you now know what's coming after you throw that jab so you can plan accordingly.
Alan also recommends having plain old, solid textbook defense. Keeping your hands held up high at all times and making small, tight defensive movements minimizes your openings and increases your defensive ability. Though it may not seem very flashy, in martial arts it is usually the basic stuff that is most effective.
And Alan's final piece of advice is simple, no non-sense drilling as well as simply putting your time in. You are not going to be good at something right away and it's going to take time and a lot of practice in order to be able to read your opponent in a fight.
ABOUT ALAN BELCHER:
Alan is a husband, father, entrepreneur, former UFC Top Contender, Black Belt in multiple martial arts, and a Black Belt in #HUSTLEJITSU.
Alan owns multiple companies, including an Online Information Business, ABMMA Martial Arts and Fitness Facilities, while running a high level Business Coaching Program.
He is devoted to changing the lives of those around him through what he calls #HUSTLEJITSU.[Source: YouTube]