Anyone who has followed mixed martial arts for more than a couple of months has no doubt been educated about several undeniable "facts" of the sport. I would like to take a couple of moments to examine a few of these "truths" I just can't stand.
MMA Truth No. 1 -- You can't leave it in the hands of the judges.
This truth has come by way of unqualified judges getting far too many decisions wrong and the general public's disdain for having to sit through 15 to 25 minutes of hand to hand combat that doesn't end with a violent knockout or limb shattering submission. This "truth" isn't without its fair share of merit, but it is those small elements of partial truth that make great big lies so easy to buy into. I mean I get it! I've bore witness to more crazy decisions than I can count, but that really isn't the point.
In truth, the point is that I would prefer it if there were no judges scorecards to turn to in mixed martial arts. After all, a fight that doesn't end definitively is nothing more than speculation no matter how lopsided a beating is being laid down. I mean most all of us have seen a fight or two where one competitor was taking a severe throttling only to put his opponent away from seemingly out of nowhere. Be that as it may, judges do exist; and their role isn't going away or being tossed out of the unified rules of mma any time soon. And for so long as three judges are a requirement of the sanctioning of professional mma matches, we need to not only get used to it but demand greater accountability in the judges without allowing the fighters they're analyzing to become their scapegoats.
The bottom line is that while it may be ill-advised to "leave the fight in the hands of the judges" in modern day mma, fighters should feel comfortable (provided they have done everything within their control to dominate their opponent and work towards victory) doing just that. After all, that is exactly what the judges are there for and being paid to do. I can't think of a single other sport decided by judges' scorecards in which the athletes and their fans are told you can't count on the judges to get it right. While it might be quite true that mma judges don't seem to have a clue what they're doing, it is unfair to expect the fighters to be responsible for and make up for the inadequacies of the judges sitting cage-side.
MMA Truth No. 2 -- "MMA math" makes total sense.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, "mma math" is the concept that Fighter A is superior to Fighter B, because they share a common opponent, Fighter C, whom Fighter A was able to best but Fighter B came up short against. If this ridiculous and broken logic held true in other sports Major League Baseball would be wise to shrink their season by about 150 games and the NFL could do away with about six games a season themselves. The fact is there is a whole lot more truth in the old adage "styles make fights" than there is in the ridiculous stock placed in mma math. Simply put, there are far too many variables in combat sports to make fighter analysis as simple as A > C, C > B, therefore A > B.
MMA math does nothing to account for style match-ups, fighter progression, training camps, game plans, current and past fighter health, or even good ole fashioned luck. Truth be told, if MMA math actually worked, Ryo Chonan would have long been the most feared man in the sport.
MMA Truth No. 3 -- "Lay n prayers" are ruining the sport.
In many ways this truth is related to truth number one, in that both have grown out blood thirsty fans who have truly come (or tuned in) to see real life violence than a legitimate sporting event. The vast majority of mixed martial arts fans will tell you that they respect the sport and can appreciate all aspects of the game, but I fully believe the vast majority of us are bald-faced liars. Just because one aspect of a sporting event may not be as aesthetically pleasing as another doesn't make it any less important than the more adrenaline charged components.
Baseball fans like offense. Specifically fans like to see baseballs hit over the fence. In fact, many fans may remember MLB's "Chicks dig the long ball!" marketing campaign of the late 90s when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were launching steroid infused ball after ball into the cheap seats. But what if pitchers who were dominating the opposing line-up were obligated to throw pitches straight down the middle because fans were growing bored after three consecutive scoreless innings? Imagine what football might look like if defensive special teams weren't allowed to block kicks because it reduced scoring? Or worse yet, imagine if the NFL told teams they weren't allowed to attempt field goals at all if they're team was winning, because it might make it too difficult for the other team to mount a comeback.
Essentially, that is what fans want from mma. Because we don't find top control to be all that exciting, we expect the referee to step in and change the complexion of the fight. We might scream that it is "boring" to see one fighter lay on top of another for five minutes, but the truth of the matter is that the fighter on top had to work for that position and impose his/her will on his/her opponent. If the fighter on bottom doesn't want to be there they really have the following choices: A. work on their take down defense, or B. work to get back to their feet. Whether we like it or not, controlling your opponent with wrestling and grappling is a part of the sport; requires great skill; and places fighters in positions they have earned. To stand them up because the guy on top is making us yawn is penalizing him for being successful the same way it would be to penalize an NFL defense if we were to automatically spot the ball on the 50 yard line if they held the opposing offense to a three and out following kickoff. It simply isn't fair, and it completely and entirely changes the complexion and momentum of the fight. What's worse is that it robs Fighter A of all incentive to be successful with his wrestling and rewards Fighter B for being unable to stop it.
When you truly examine the way modern mma is beginning to force stand-ups more and more frequently due to "lack of action" (which is really just a fancy way of saying, a type of action fans really don't find all that appealing), I am left to conclude that it really isn't "lay n prayers" who are ruining mixed martial arts. The true people ruining mma are fans who came not to watch a combative sporting event where two fighters are allowed to use their full arsenal of weapons to defeat their opponent, but instead came to watch two fighters use certain, specific and exciting weapons to beat their opponent. And in all honesty, there's nothing inherently wrong with that at all -- but it really isn't mixed martial arts either.
These are but a few of the many mma truths that bother me. You aren't required to agree with me, and you probably don't. And I'm just fine with that. Flame on!