Perhaps it's too soon to call it a trend, but the lack of submissions during UFC 96 is worth discussing. Saturday's card in Columbus marked the third event in the organization's last six that failed to produce a submission (tapout to choke or joint lock).
Prior to UFC 96, 94 and 92, the last time a UFC card finished submission-less was February 2007, at UFC 67 -- a span of 36 events. Over the course of 94 Zuffa-era UFC events, only eight have failed to yield some sort of submission. That three of those cards took place in the past four months is at a minimum noteworthy, at worst disconcerting.
Just once has the UFC come up short on submissions in consecutive events. Way back when, in 1996, UFC 9 and 10 saw plenty of finishes, just not a tap from a rear-naked choke, triangle, armbar or countless other ways to end a fight via lock or choke. Understandably, that was an entirely different era.
I've been concerned that MMA is becoming too unbalanced and the disturbing trend that Gross points out does nothing to reassure me.
Ideally, MMA should be a blend of the three phase of fighting -- range fighting, the clinch and ground fighting -- with plenty of dynamic transitions from phase to phase.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a good stand-up war, but I do worry that MMA is degenerating into bad kickboxing.
And you don't have to be a smarty pants MMA fan to notice. From the Columbus Dispatch:
A friend who attended his first Ultimate Fighting Championship event Saturday night in Nationwide Arena wasn't impressed with the brawling ("90 percent of it is boxing, and they're bad boxers") and said it will never go mainstream unless they clean it up. That works for me. I'm not sure we want head kicks in the mainstream. It moves us that much closer to Rollerball.