What Value Are Submission Attempts in Mixed Martial Arts?

Henderson_cerrone_mediumJordan Breen takes a stab at the issue:

The biggest issue is that many people -- some fighters included -- see submissions as an "all or nothing" proposition. Either your opponent taps, or there is no value in the technique at all. If that were the case, submissions shouldn't be a part of MMA at all if the technical application has no inherent value. Some rogue promoters are starting to run shows that feature both striking and ground-and-pound, but no submissions -- maybe that should be our goal.

As you point out, some readers and listeners outright admitted they reward a fighter for escaping a submission more than the fighter attacking, which is illogical on all levels. On top of that, the judging criteria set forth ages ago, which are supposed to be adhered to under the Unified Rules, recognize Cerrone's action. "Repeated threatening attempts at submission and reversal resulting in continuous defense from the top fighter" ... sounds like Cerrone-Henderson to me.

The issue is really about the fundamental value of any submission attempt. With striking, it is easy to assess whether strikes are clean, effective and efficient. With submissions, gauging the value of the technique is much more difficult, especially with regards to reconciling it against strikes, as is the case in the first round of Cerrone-Henderson.

I think in order to have a fair and equitable evaluation of striking and grappling, essentially apples and oranges, scoring needs to actually become a bit more abstract. I like to ask myself, "What fighter is being more dominant or threatening, forcing his opponent to continuously defend rather than attack, with emphasis on quality of technique?" I emphasize the "quality of technique" part, as well; many people lump all submission effort that don't yield taps together. However, there's a vast difference between the quality of execution that someone like Donald Cerrone showed and a fighter aimlessly squeezing a lukewarm guillotine.

I have very little to add except two comments. First, like Breen, I, too, scored the fight for Cerrone.

Second, I have had many discussions with top-level referees and athletic commission officials. One constant that was consistently articulated to me was that escapes are of very insignificant value in MMA. As they suggested, what makes a fight possible is offense. Defense is valuable and noteworthy, but defense alone does not create the essence of the fight. Fighting, in its purest form, is offense. Without someone taking action or initiating violence or choosing to press the fight, there is no fight. Simply escaping an offensive maneuver, as they suggest, only means they brought the offense of their opponent and the fight itself back to even at the moment of the escape since the escapee had been losing up until that point.

I place high value on submission attempts. As Breen suggests, not all attempts are created equal, but the notion that because escaping dominant holds or positions counts for points in wrestling, that therefore escaping submissions should count for points in MMA is highly misplaced. We are dealing with a highly different animal with alien values that underwrite what actions are meaningful (offensive with a finishing quotient) and which aren't. Submission attempts - good ones, ones that threaten even when they don't finish - are not negated because they fail. They are negated when inept judges deem them worthless for having less than perfect application.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.

Join Bloody Elbow

You must be a member of Bloody Elbow to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bloody Elbow. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5349_tracker