A Call for Penalty Cards in the UFC
Once upon a time, there were two. Two organizations that brought the world of MMA into the picture. These two organizations battled as fiercely as any two fighters one can name.
Both had their strengths, and weaknesses, with their fighters, and their approaches to the sport.
Two fighting promotions, both striving to gain our attention. Both with similar but still very different flavors. Pride and the UFC.
Many fans have their preference as to which they preferred so many years ago. In the end, the differences that separated them were vast but both brought their share of growth and forward thinking to the world of MMA.
Pride and the UFC evolved differently, had different rules, and regulations. Some have changed, some have remained, and some have gone to the way side. Pride as a whole has gone the direction of the latter.
After watching the lack luster performance in a high profile championship fight between Thales Leites and Anderson Silva this weekend, one might wonder if some of the rules lost with Pride shouldn’t be considered as viable options in today’s MMA world.
One tactic that the Pride organization employed was the use of a match conduct card. A penalty card if you will. These penalty cards were not only used to prompt fighters to pick up the pace, but cost the fighters 10% of their purses come the end of the fight.
This concept allowed for the official to issue both warnings and penalty cards to fighters who became complacent and less than active within the fight.
Imagine being in the middle of a bore fest, and being told “if you dont step it up your check is going to get lighter”. Money isn’t everything but these gentlemen don’t fight for free right?
This concept was helpful in Pride for many reasons. The round structure was different. The first lasting 10 minutes, and the second and third lasting five each. Not the regimented three five minute rounds seen today in the UFC.
The ten minute round in particular was grueling and at times draining for the fighters. So one can see the need to remind the fighters that they are indeed here to fight. Tired or no. You can rest after the fight, or take a financial hit to keep resting. Your choice.
Compelling for a fighter one must imagine.
In today’s world, guys gas sure. Nothing can fix that. The other side of it is more of a mental deficiency. Some fighters seem to be content surviving a match up they may be losing as opposed to fighting a fight. There is a sound difference.
Gassing aside, how many fighters have been given the golden opportunity to showcase their talents only to get in the Octagon and sputter, or fizzle out? How many guys go into a fight only to succeed in a fight they are winning, not attack. Again there is a difference in theory.
The fans see it clearly, while a fighter may not.
Consider the less than thrilling championship fight offered this past weekend. Leites was surviving not fighting, and Silva was succeeding not attacking.
All literal definitions aside, those statements hold a lot of weight in regard to what went on in that Octagon. Lietes could have done more to engage on the feet, and Silva didn’t have to but could have engaged on the ground. Instead fans saw one move forward, and the other lay down, neither wanting to visit the others home field if you will.
It was like a game of chicken with the E brake on for fear something bad might happen. Something bad was supposed to happen. Two guys were fighting for a championship, or at least that was the rumor. It was like watching paint dry.
How could a match conduct card have changed that fight? Would it have provided the MMA fan a better match? Would it have forced a different decision?
Could Lietes have shocked the world if only he had been forced to fight? Could Silva have actually shown his true self, if he were pushed to engage wherever the fight may have gone?
Surely, if nothing else, the fans would not have booed one of the greatest fighters they’ve ever known. Surely Dana White would not have said the harsh things he said after the fight.
The purists, this writer being one of them, understand a fighter like Machida. Not dynamite every time out but dangerous just the same. Not as exciting as a bomber like Wandy but definitely not to be overlooked.
The casual fan doesn’t have the depth and knowledge of the sport to understand a BJJ rolling war. They find it boring. They don’t see the beauty of the art. They see two guys rolling around.
Point is there are instances where the action doesn’t look active but there is a lot going on. Then there are times where the only thing going on is one guy trying to last 15 minutes or more and get back to the dressing room a.s.a.p.
Or worse yet, the champ, or the bigger name in the fight, doing just enough to succeed, not finish, no danger, just points, points enough to get his hand raised in the end.
In closing this fight left a lot of unanswered questions ranging from Silva’s true desire, his dedication, his satisfaction with his current situation within the UFC.
Even consider the fact that simply put the UFC cant challenge him and why should he risk his legacy waiting for some guy with a punchers chance to end the run. His dedication and drive may not be in question today had the UFC had the option to push the pace Saturday night.
That is not to say Silva should have been the one doing more, but if they carded Leites he would have picked up his pace thus pushing Silva in the process, and eventually giving the fans what they paid their hard earned recession dollars to see. A fight.
The UFC can’t afford in these time to allow fighters to go through the motions. It has happened before and is frustrating to everyone involved. Sometimes the fighters need to be saved from themselves.
Whether it be fatigue, lack of motivation, or fear, these men come to do one thing. They get paid to do one thing. If they fail to do that thing, perhaps that pay should be docked by way of match conduct card to remind them what they came to do, and point out that they very well may not be doing it.
They can’t all be super fights, they can’t all shock the world, but generally speaking at the very least the fighters should be held accountable for debacles like what was taking place in Montreal this past weekend. The UFC has a lot of options, they can release fighters, they can put them on under cards for luck luster performances.
Maybe, just maybe if they set a tone by hitting the fighters where it really hurts, the wallet, they may be able to avoid future debacles like the one just endured by the world of MMA enthusiasts.
Our hard earned dollars should not be spent watching a fighter earn his easily.
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