To Fight Or To Win?
As Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz waited for the decision of their bantamweight title rematch, the watching world speculated endlessly on the upcoming verdict.
Both fighters looked exhausted but Cruz’s face bore more signs of the twenty five minute conflict that had just unfolded.
As the cards were read out in favour of Dominick Cruz; Faber’s face was a combination of disbelief and frustration at the decision.
Faber has been quite humble in retrospect and, as much as the decision has not been held up as unjust, the manner of victory has been closely scrutinised by a wide variety of sources.
The California Kid himself illustrated the sticking point perfectly in a recent interview with Bruce Buffer
“I felt like I won right after the fight, that was my initial feeling. I think that’s because I didn’t really get hurt in the fight and I feel like I hurt him a couple of times.
I definitely feel like I could have been more of a person that put on the appearance of winning the fight rather than trying to finish the fight and I think that was the difference”
The FightMetric numbers certainly indicated Faber’s sentiments as it was clear that the champion had landed comprehensively more strikes throughout, 97-58, but had not scored as many fight ending power shots to the head.
The UFC’s current product is light years ahead of the SEG product that shocked Middle America in 1993 but, in many respects, their rule set gave the truest representation of exactly who had won the fight.
There were no questions asked when Olag Taktarov took out Tank Abbot or any doubts remaining when Royce Gracie submitted victim after victim.
I’m not suggesting for one second that a return to the anarchic genesis of the sport is what is necessary simply that, in the modern era, it’s very possible to win the fight but still come second.
“In what parallel universe can you punch a man three hundred times, he wraps his legs around your head for eight seconds and they declare him the winner?” - Chael Sonnen
Dominick Cruz is still the UFC bantamweight champion of the world; whether he danced around and outpointed his opponent like Zorro or whether he won by Tiger Uppercut is nothing more than details.
Mixed martial arts was established to solve hundreds of years of debate regarding interdisciplinary combat and it’s true to see that martial arts as a whole has evolved a tremendous amount because of it.
Today’s mixed martial artist is afforded the luxury of a rule set which has been developed to ensure that fights are contested on the most level playing field, but attempting to achieve the perfect balance is simply not possible.
The modern day UFC suits point fighting stylists like Lyoto Machida, George St-Pierre and Dominick Cruz because the judging criteria doesn’t look at who won the fight; merely at who won the most rounds.
In a day and age where winning becomes more financially rewarding, it’s becoming ever clearer that the sport is quickly accelerating away from fighters who repeatedly go out on their shield a la Wanderlei Silva.
To win the fight or to win the match may have, at one time, been a relevant topic to a mixed martial artist; these days however, the question has become little more than an afterthought.