There’s a lot to be said about UFC 117. Roy Nelson can take a punch like he can take a wedding cake to a closet to finish by himself, Matt Hughes has some serious “mentally challenged individual” strength applying a choke to Ricardo Almeida’s neck strong enough to squeeze a turd out of his other end, Jon Fitch is still one of the pound for pound heaviest blankets in MMA, and Anderson Silva versus Chael Sonnen was one of the mightiest clashes in the world of MMA since Shane Carwin versus his own sense of moral superiority. Watching Chael Sonnen beat up Anderson for almost five whole rounds was even as an Anderson Silva fan a thing to be marveled at...it was as though someone had shown Chael the movie Roots five minutes before he’d fought (in joke), and the overwhelming chaos that his win would have brought down could have been beyond epic, the online equivalent of Lakers fans and their post championship riot celebration. But for all Chael was able to do against Anderson there was one thing he just couldn’t accomplish, avoiding the sour taste of defeat and Anderson’s testicles (I’m sure they were as freshly trimmed as his snazzy goatee) as they pressed firmly against his strong Republican chin forcing him to finally submit…then act like he didn’t…then except that he did when the referee wasn’t gonna play that shit, and with only two minutes left on the buzzer.
One thing Junior Dos Santos, Jon Fitch, and Chael all have in common is that all three had seemingly dominated their opposition for much of the duration of their respective fights. Dos Santos beat on Nelson like he caught him molesting his family’s Thanksgiving dinner, Jon Fitch decided to personally shoot a remake of 9 ½ weeks that Thiago Alves was unaware he was the co-star of, and Chael Sonnen abused Anderson like Ronald McDonald’s stepfather (the only PC way I could think to drop the redheaded stepchild line) for almost the entire fight. All three were dominant displays, only two ended up working out for the dominator, only one led to the winner actually getting assured his shot at promised glory.
Chael Sonnen and Jon Fitch were actually both in a way left out of gaining a desired reward. Both fighter’s styles ensured that not only would Chael suffer for not being able to capitalize off of five rounds of dominating a guy enough to get a finish, but Fitch’s own style of Velcro wrestling tailored more towards putting an audience out rather than his own opposition seemingly put his future title contentions into jeopardy as well. Both of these guys suffered from a similar problem leading to two separate punishments for their efforts.
On the one hand you have a Chael Sonnen. Not a guy that has a highlight reel of fancy knockouts, but he can grind out a grueling decision and still put on a pretty damn entertaining show in the process. The problem is that while putting on a beating when he can’t put a close to the fight he leaves ample opportunity for his opponent to mount a comeback and put another fresh nut-stamp on his forehead (this also of course having to do with his poor sub defense). While this can lead to enough of a problem in a three round fight, it’s even worse when he has five. Bottom line is, if this was a non-title fight right now he could at least claim victory over one of the best in the sport, but it wasn’t. It was a five round battle that he was more than likely to come out on top of until Anderson, a known finisher, put an end to Sonnen’s championship hopes. Nothing more to really say here, he lost but he can certainly live to fail another day.
On the other side of the coin you have a guy like Jon Fitch. Like Sonnen, Fitch is a guy without much of a highlight reel. Fitch is a fighter that just doesn’t finish, even when he’s eating a sandwich it ends up having to go a judge’s scorecard. He probably doesn’t even finish during sex, he just waits for the girl to finally get tired and push him off, a luxury most of his opponents don’t posses. The most exciting thing fans can boast of Fitch doing in his career was get his ass kicked by GSP (really this has more to do with GSP’s awesome ability to kick ass, and Fitch’s awesome ability…to let his ass get kicked by GSP). The difference between Fitch and Sonnen is that while both can’t necessarily seal the deal, Fitch can’t even make the deal interesting in the first place. You have a guy that can’t finish, and doesn’t really entertain in the process that sets himself up to have to run through practically the whole roster (except for the other two members of the AKA trinity) getting passed up for title shots in the mean time in favor of more “flashier” fighters. Black Lesnar once wrote a satirical piece on Jon Fitch being injected with blackness, but in reality if Jon Fitch was black he’d just be Antonio Mckee. And so you have it with Mckee, Fitch, Maynard and the like all being guys that dominate, don’t entertain, and get passed up for bigger opportunities.
In the end it pays to finish. I’m certainly not in the camp that believes its easier then it looks and that a fighter should just “knock that nigga out” when the fight just started, but still for a fighter like Fitch it would simply make the difference to take more risks. I also recognize that if a fighter has a specific style that dominates then really they should have no reason to change up their gameplan, it’s up to their opponents to stop them if they can. Guys like Floyd Mayweather, Jon Fitch, and Gray Maynard will continue to prove triumphant due to their successful styles but at the end of the day unless you have the spirit of a salesman like Mayweather or Sonnen then you’re just going to continue to increase the decrease of your marketability. Not only that but the longer the fight goes the greater chance you have to get caught (Duffee, Sonnen, Akiyama) or at least to experience a close call (Evans, Fitch, Evans, Silva, Evans, and Rashad…Evans).
In closing I’d like to take this time to shamelessly promote my other fanposts. Believe me folks, they're real and they're fantastic!
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