Daley Decision Right Choice for Many Reasons
cover photo courtesy Esther Lin of MMAFighting
This isn’t other sports.
The repercussions of a sucker punch like the one thrown by Paul Daley in other sports don’t have any place in this discussion. Basketball players, baseball players, and hockey players aren’t professional fighters with fierce left hooks, and that’s just the beginning of what makes Dana White’s decision to drop Daley from the UFC roster the right decision.
Have you seen a basketball fight? Do you not remember the awkward, flailing punches Alonzo Mourning threw with Jeff Van Gundy holding onto his leg for dear life? Those shots weren’t going to do much damage. Same goes for the punches thrown in baseball scuffles. Some hockey players can chuck the knuckles, but none of those guys are professional fighters. Daley is.
His job is to knock people out, and last night, he had fifteen minutes to try and do just that, and failed. There is no “just lemme get one more shot in there” and no matter how irritated, frustrated or emotionally fried you are, you don’t try to knock the other guy out after the final bell sounds.
Not even if that guy is Josh Koscheck.
Yes, The Ultimate Fighter alum is brash, arrogant, and a championship pain in the ass. There is a very good chance that Koscheck was whispering some not-so-sweet nothings in Daley’s ear near the close of their bout, and played up an errant knee in the first round. He is the best bad guy in mixed martial arts, but that doesn’t mean he deserved to get popped. No one does.
Then you have the whole Strikeforce brawl to add to the mix.
White went to town on the UFC’s chief rival for the melee that followed Jake Shields’s victory over Dan Henderson last month. Failing to act forcibly in this situation would have been a chance for those who already take issue with White to challenge his decision-making once again. Though people will call out the UFC President for being too harsh and quick to cut Daley, this is a serious opportunity to send a message and it comes through loud and clear: cross the line and you’re done.
I’ve seen objections based on other incidents that have happened outside of the cage or in other organizations. I get the references, but here’s the rub: those incidents did not take place inside the Octagon in a high-profile pay-per-view bout. The only one that strikes me as comparable was Renato “Babalu” Sobral’s choke on David Heath, and Sobral got shown the door, just like Daley. Quinton Jackson’s rampage in his monster truck was awful, but didn’t happen in the cage. Fair? Probably not, but neither is life.
One point that doesn’t seem to be getting enough mention coming out of this situation is that the press is on to secure the two outstanding mega-markets the UFC has yet to enter. For a sport closing in on mainstream acceptance, idiocy like that exhibited by Daley can poison to a push into New York and Toronto. This sport is judged even harder in the court of public opinion than any other professional sport. Detractors will use every opportunity imaginable as cause for alarm and a reason to challenge the legitimacy of the sport. Why give them any more ammunition to use in this battle?
Leniency could be spun as acceptance; giving Daley a 120-day suspension when he wouldn’t have been used in the first place accomplishes nothing and is an easy objection from opponents of MMA. This swift and harsh punishment leaves no room for questions, at least on one front.
There will remain questions and objections from other angles, but from where I’m sitting, Dana White did the right thing and deserves to be applauded.
For more UFC 113 commentary, read 10 Things Learned at UFC 113.