Sometime around 60AD, the civilized world lay prostrate beneath the Roman Empire's ruthless sandal. Rome had conquered every enemy to every point of the compass, not by the size of the army it deployed, but by the science with which it approached battle. Republican Rome had the world's first standing professional army, and developed military strategy and tactics into an advanced art that repeatedly gave it the edge over less-disciplined enemies.
However, in the Roman province we now call Britain, a massive uprising was led by Boadicea, the legendary warrior queen of the Iceni. Provoked into rebellion by the rape of her daughters and humiliation of her people, she led her furious hordes on a rampage of looting and murder, sacking major towns populated by Roman settlers. Unprepared for the uprising, the Roman governor Suetonius had on hand an army of only a few thousand men. On short notice, he hurried to London, a major Roman settlement. Then word came: Boadicea was approaching, and she was hungry for blood. What would Suetonius do?
Boadicea and her daughters.
Like Carlos Condit faced with the approach of the ruthless Barbarian Nick Diaz, he retreated. Despite the derogatory opinion often held of retreating generals, as a trained tactician Suetonius knew that retreat is not necessarily an act of cowardice or a source of shame. Rather, it is often the first step in winning a fight on your own terms. At this point, it would seem that Boadicea had the initiative, forcing the Roman into retreat. But a battle is not decided by who has what we might call battlefield control. It is decided by the tally of bloodied corpses when battle is finally joined. And battle was not yet joined.
Like Nick Diaz, Boadicea's fighting strategy was simple: she overwhelmed her opponents with irresistible force. She marshaled every able-bodied member of her tribe and advanced like a swarm of starving locusts. After Suetonius' retreat, she overran London and visited slaughter and destruction on the town. Her strategy of overwhelming force and violent attack had prevailed again. High on victory, she set her sights on driving the Romans out of Britain altogether. Like Diaz, she was forcing the pace- but was she winning?
It would seem so. Suetonius gathered together the few Roman divisions he could muster, but still had at his disposal only around 10,000 men. Boadicea's fighting force however, reportedly numbered up to 230,000. If Suetonius went head-on against her, he would be celebrated in history's chronicles for his courage. He would also be mercilessly slaughtered. So preferring life to glory, the wily general crafted a less confrontational strategy that would turn Boadicea's strength and aggression into a weakness.
First, he carefully chose his battle ground. He selected a gap in a dense forest to be the site of the imminent showdown. This narrow corridor formed a cul-de-sac that would make it impossible for Boadicea to deploy her army on a wide front. The site was also sloping, meaning that one army would have to be running uphill during the fight, while the other would be running downhill. Then having set the stage, he lured her into battle.
True to her wont, Boadicea rushed forward, her entire tribe in tow. Lacking any kind of disciplined formation, she swarmed towards the Romans. Suetonius then began a disciplined retreat, luring Boadicea into the gap in the woods. Like Nick Diaz, Boadicea did what had always worked: she attacked with the full measure of her fury. Positioned deep in his gap in the woods, Suetonius was as calm and focused as Carlos Condit as he waited for Boadicea to lose the battle.
And lose she did. Unable to swarm the Romans because of the narrow field, her army presented a narrow front but long tail. Running uphill, she was also working twice as hard as her adversaries and tired quickly. Her characteristic brute force and aggression was completely neutralized, and she found her army clinically decimated by the Romans, who efficiently picked off her fighters with well-placed sword thrusts under the guard. She was the aggressor, forcing the pace, but each Roman sword thrust was like a Carlos Condit leg kick, scoring patiently but effectively.
After the first wave of Boadicea's attack was exhausted, the battle displayed the dynamics of the Condit-Diaz fight at the start of the third round. Gaining confidence, the Romans started to advance. However, they did so in disciplined formation, maintaining a wedge that cleaved Boadicea's frontline the way Condit's head kicks and clinical punches cleaved Diaz's guard. Ironically, the size of Boadicea's army prevented her from retreating, because the fighters behind blocked the retreat of those dying at the front. Like Diaz, her natural aggressive style meant that as the clinical punches landed, she had no defence: she had never learned to retreat.
In the end, the Romans won the day and Boadicea passed into legend. To this day, like Nick Diaz, she is celebrated for her courage, fierceness and aggression in battle. But it was the wily General Condit, who knew when to apply the tactical retreat and the clinical counter-attack, who will go down on history's scorecard as the victor.
And rightly so.