Jamie "Timeout" Varner. Matt "I got poked in the eye/kicked in the nuts" Hughes. Add Rousimar Palhares to the list of of "fighters' who work two jobs in the ring. Leave the rule-calling to the hired professionals. Ask second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, who infamously argued with the first base umpire, while holding the ball, as a runner circled the bases scoring a run. The difference being Knoblauch wasn't getting attacked by an overzealous Frank Trigg or a pinpoint-accurate Nate Marquardt. In combat sport ,replay can do little to overturn unconsciousness or a dislocated ankle.
It seems to be a theme lately among a new 'breed' of 'MMA fighters'. To engage in a physical contest rather than to 'scrap' at all costs and actually fight. This 'new breed' lacks the fearlessness of Kazushi Sakuraba and the big balls of Don Frye. Two fearless men, Sakuraba fought the majority of his peak year fighting much larger and stronger ( read : DANGEROUS) opponents. This may have more to do with Pride's offering of him as a sacrificial lamb for their own economic purposes, but Sakuraba was in the ring for the punishment. He was slated for possible execution with a fourth Wanderlei Silva match. This was the equivalent of pulling the trigger for the fourth time playing Russian Roulette with a 6 chamber gun. Good luck! As for Frye, he'd fight Godzilla if the match could be made in Japan tomorrow. As Frye says, his balls are so big "he wears the excess on his hat'.
The mindset is no longer of a fight. Hell , the atmosphere at most fights isn't that we are going to see a fight anymore. When you picture beating down your rival do you picture an uninterrupted series of blows to the chin and nose and for real pain, the liver? (Thank you BAS!) Or is a takedown to smothering top control your idea of 'free pain' ? I'm guessing if you have any measurable amount of testosterone in your body you want to finish with strikes after advancing position. Congratulations if you choose strikes, keep reading. If not, I'm sure Dancing With The Stars debuts soon. Enjoy! Maybe grappler extraordinaire and Ambien-substitute Nik Lentz will win.
This non-fighter mindset was exposed at least twice on Wednesday. Most notably in the main event with the 'greasing' allegations of Rousimar Palhares to Nate Marquart's instantaneous escape from an attempted heel hook. Although the most publicized mistake of the night, there was an even more unforgivable lapse of fight-finishing judgment. It occurred in the Jim Miller - Gleison Tibau bout. With Miller having clearly wobbling Tibau early in the second round with an overhand left, Miller insisted in applying a rear- naked choke. Despite not having the angle on his back, Miller went for the choke multiple times. If the choke is there, take it. It wasn't. Rather than peppering with more strikes, Miller grappled. His wrestling instincts took over, taking away any opportunity for the finish. Wrangling for the ill-advised choke, Tibau was able to recover rather than being forced into absorbing more punishment. Inexplicably after the failed choke attempts Miller throws a knee and clinches with Tibau extending recovery time. It was the equivalent of dragging your opponent back to the shallow end of the pool.
Can you picture vintage Wanderlei Silva or a modern Jon 'Bones' Jones opting for the rear naked finish over a bludgeoning of fists and elbows? No one can. The problem is winning points or winning fans' hearts. Yes, this is not Vale Tudo, there are rules in Mixed Martial Arts. But playing for points rather than the finish is the antithesis of fighting. Unless the fight goes to a one-sided decision, the fight has not truly determined a winner. When both fighters leave the ring with a close decision, keep it going in the parking lot. Or the hospital. Round 4 in the Nick Diaz- Joe Riggs fight occurred in the emergency room following UFC 57. Although not the most professional of behavior, it leaves little doubt as to whether they fight to the finish.
With the expansion of MMA and the introduction of many new fighters, the focus will turn from those can fight well to those can fight well and entertain. It is inevitable for the focus to return to striking as MMA's fan base becomes more mainstream. Grappling will continue to gain respect, but the carnal instinct in all men will dictate the finish become paramount. Think Michael Jordan, a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year. One of the greats, if the not the greatest player in basketballs' history, Jordan was a complete player. What is Jordan remembered for? Defense, not by most fans. Ask someone what Jordan did. He dunked basketballs from the free throw line and won championships. PERIOD!
What does Cro Cop do? Kick heads off. Even though it hasn't happened in years, the anticipation is there every time he steps foot in the cage. He has our attention. It reminds me of the line from Gladiator "Win the crowd and you will win your freedom." In modern terms-ENTERTAIN US !