I once maintained a blog on the now defunct social media platform Vox, which was basically an excuse to argue with my friends about music. By far my proudest accomplishment (in in admittedly shallow pool) during Vox's short-lived heyday was the development of my Grand Unified Categorization System for musical acts, which allows for the easy distribution of artists into four, easily accessible categories. In a discussion about Jon Fitch earlier this week, I realized this revolutionary system applies equally well to MMA fighters, so I thought I'd share it with you.
Because I am too lazy and inept to create a graphic for this exercise, I ask you, my fellow BElitist, to visualize a graph broken into four quadrants by horizontal and vertical axes. The horizontal axis is "respect" and the vertical axis is "like" which means that the four categories of fighters are:
1) MMA figthers you both like and respect (upper right)
2) MMA fighters you respect but don't like (upper left)
3) MMA fighters you like but don't respect (lower right)
4) MMA fighters you neither respect nor like (lower left)
Now, truth be told, fighters in Category 1 and Category 4 are not all that interesting to talk about. For me, Category 1 fighters are guys like Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, BJ Penn, Jon Jones, Nick Diaz, GSP, Melvin Guillard, Ben Henderson. These are guys who are legitimately excellent (worthy of respect) and who I really like to watch fight. Awesome, but not that great a conversation piece.
But those two middle categories are where things get interesting. Category 2 (respect but don't like) is one of the biggest in MMA for me. It includes nearly every grinding wrestler and technically skilled point fighter in the game. Guys like Fitch, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, and Dominic Cruz are some of the very best fighters in the world, but while I can clinically appreciate their talents, I really don't enjoy watching them.
And finally, we have my favorite category. Good old Category 3, which is where some of my favorite music and favorite fighters in the world reside. These are guys who may have huge holes in their games, or be overrated, or both, but who I will always, always follow for the energy and excitement they bring to the ring. Number one with a bullet for me in this category is Paul Daley, one of my favorite fighters in the world. And while it's possible up-and-comer Lorenz Larkin will be a legitimate Category 1 guy, I sort of see him heading here as well.
Category 3 is the reason why the nearing end of Strikeforce makes me sad. The MMA world needs a place where Category 3 guys can entertainingly beat the crap out of each other, and I fear that we may be losing that. I need a good reason to shout WAR in all caps.