Not every fight can be a brawl or full of stand-up striking. If that’s what you’re looking for, there is a whole other sport out there which you’re sure to love called boxing that produces two men remaining upright and exchanging punches for long, uninterrupted periods of time. You should check it out.
Grappling – wrestling, judo, jiu jitsu – is such an intrinsic part of the fabric of this sport that hearing people who consider themselves MMA fans constantly complaining about the lack of excitement and frustration with any fight that isn’t a remake of the first Ultimate Fighter Finale is maddening. It’s like hearing the kid who just got the entire set of Star Wars action figures complain because they didn’t get the Millenium Falcon and a Tie Fighter too.
It’s like saying you like MMA and having no idea about anyone fighting outside of the UFC. Mixed martial arts includes grappling, and without it it’s K-1 or boxing or a fist fight with four-ounce gloves.
The idea that Todd Duffee’s one sided beating-turned-one punch defeat at the hands of Mike Russow was perhaps more entertaining than Evans vs. Jackson is unfathomable to me. Twelve minutes of watching Duffee essentially do heavy bag work doesn’t get erased by a flash knockout. What will make it worse is if someone counters that the Duffee – Russow fight wasn’t better and then picks it apart on its lack of technical merit. No matter how much you try, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
I get that the stalemate moments in wrestling-heavy encounters can be tiring. Watching Randy Couture press Brandon Vera up against the cage and do little else at UFC 105 was annoying even for me, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Singular instances of annoyance don’t outweigh the overall value and merit of wrestling, including those struggles where it looks like nothing much is happening.
Gaining dominant position is a huge part of grappling. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing element of the sport for some fans, it’s a key component of the fight game and shouldn’t be shifted because a bunch of hard-to-please patrons start booing the instant a fight hits the floor or goes without action for all of 13 seconds.
Speedier stand-ups mean less time for transitions on the ground, and it was the time on the ground that produced the greatest moments of the Jason Brilz – Rogerio Nogueira fight on the same card. Without being given time to work, Brilz wouldn’t have grabbed the guillotine that almost ended Nogueira’s night and the back-and-forth that earned applause from the same huddled masses who booed Evans and Jackson.
Additionally, if we do take to speeding up the sport by implementing rules regarding stand-ups or outlawing wrestling altogether, fans will simply shift their complaints elsewhere. Cards filled with quick knockout finishes will become the enemy as the return on investment won’t be enough in the eyes of fickle fight fans.
When that day comes, there will be another new “thing” in the world of MMA fandom. It won’t be used to describe fights, but rather the fans themselves.
Spoiled is the new boring.