Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food for thought - Philosophy of Fighting

This post is based on some earlier ramblings that I had written down in the wake of the Silva/Leites bought which, I'm sure we all remember (unless you were able to supress it with alcohol and punches to head). The debate which occured on the internet was "Is Silva justified in winning a fight when commits less than all of his skills but stays within the rules?", or words to that effect. I hope one day to expand these and try to form what would, if written in a book, form at least the introduction. These were my thoughts:

I think there are two issues at contention here:

1: Whether it is the duty of the UFC to provide what is generally perceived as as entertainment, in that it consists of fast, exciting actions, trading on the feet and on the ground, or a dominant showing by one competitor who pushed the pace constantly (whether on the feet or on the ground) and actively looks to finish the fight. Whilst at the same time present a sport in which the nuances of the fighters and fights have to be taken into account as well as the ability to 'win within the rules', in this case meaning 'to win without a perceived dominant showing'.

2: Whether it is a mixed martial artists duty to and obligation to do all they can to finish fights, even if they put themselves at more risk than necessarily required (for example giving up top control for a leg lock).

For this post I will not discuss number one. I believe number two comes down to what it means to be a mixed martial artist and by extension, a fighter. I do not think it wrong of us to label mixed martial artists as fighters because they have to fight to finish and win, not just put on a display of aesthetically pleasing technical displays that have no intention of hurting the opponent (such as this). The key to fighting, whether it be in a cage, ring, or full-scale war, is to defeat the opponent. As Clausewitz puts it 'War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a War, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: each endeavours to throw his adversary, and thus render him incapable of further resistance.'

Silva and Thales are those two wrestlers. I conceed that Silva did enough to win the fight within the rules, yet he failed to not only submit Thales to his will (sure, he didn't fight him on the ground, but then didn't inflict significant damage upon Thales for me to consider it imposing his will). Furthermore, Silva did not render Thales incapable of further resistance. The proof of this? It went to decision. A TKO win would have displayed Thales incapable of resistance.

As such, since Silva was able to win despite not doing the two things required to win a duel, I lay the fault at the unified rules. By changing the rules, introducing details such as yellow cards, and expanding the rules to allow for a greater arsenal of attacks will help to prevent fights of timidity and limitation. Ultimately I am contending that fighters will more often than not look to take the easier route when winning a fight, especially when fighting for a championship belt. Allowing the referee to force the action with yellow cards and the like should ensure for more fights with finishes.

Excuse me if these still appear rambling and perhaps without point, they are more here to inspire debate as well as potentially some helpful and constructive feedback. My next post lined up is to take a closer look at the UK MMA scene, focusing on lesser well known MMA stars who are currently making waves.


  1. So would Jose Aldo deserve a yellow card, and therefore a purse deduction, for his slow 5th round with Faber? It could be argued that after complete domination for 4-rounds that he didn't want to injure Faber any further.

  2. True, but then considering his absolute dominance in the previous 4 rounds, a yellow card may be unnecessary. However, that's more theoretical and you're right, a referee may see it a bit differently.