Aiko San used to often tell me: "when you find your own distance no one can touch you".
I ponder a lot on this, I knew that if Aiko san repeats it so much it must be crucial, when she talked about karate even Sensei Nishiyama knew there was always substance there.
Many people are not considering the distance and rush into engaging with the opponent, in karate but even more so in MMA fights,. When one does not consider maai (effective distance) the fight depends on speed, power and luck, and sometimes you randomly will get hit even if you are faster and stronger.
If you control the distance and rhythm there should be no randomness, you will be able to avoid the opponent range and hit them in the proper timing.
In some Tai Chi book I read something that influence my outlook on distance a lot: "always make the opponent feel as if he is too far to attack, yet too close to escape".
That is beautiful but need a lot of practice, we must bring those important concepts to life, through training and self reflection, otherwise the concepts will stay theory.
Always try to understand your own technique distance, your opponent distance and use the interaction of these distances as base of your strategy.
In basic distance I make my own territory, where I know that I can hit the opponent with one foot action and I can avoid his/her attack if I move slightly out.
Than we, of course, can change strategy and distance, depend on my skill level comparing to opponent, opponent tall or short, how explosive he is, and how I read opponent's intentions.
The idea again is to never fight by power, catch the opponent at the time and space they cannot use their power.
Any strong technique is useless if maai is not used effectively.