I rarely watch UFC events live because of the timezone difference. I'm 5 hours ahead of Eastern and 8 hours ahead of Pacific standard time. I DVR ESPN in the UK, and get to watch on a Sunday morning or afternoon after a reasonable night's sleep. I'll stay up a bit to catch the prelims on Facebook or UFC.TV, but by the time a main card usually starts it's around 3am my time and I'm fast asleep.
So feeling refreshed and having had a break from what would otherwise have been a marathon MMA TV session, I feel I'm able to watch fights with a sharper, more focused mind. And I thought the Heavyweight bout at UFC 149 between Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan was good.
It wasn't the most exciting or technically brilliant of fights, but there was a lot going on in the clinch against the fence that left me satisfied that both men were always working hard to get an edge that unfortunately never quite happened. But it wasn't the Wall'n'Stall fest an irate Dana White would have you believe.
Joe Rogan remarked he was glad Yves Lavigne let the two fighters work and wasn't jumping in there to break them up, and Rogan wasn't the only one to feel this way. Lavigne did a good job in officiating that fight.
Sometimes a fight isn't dynamic and won't feature the pop and sizzle of the Stand'n'Bangers Dana White fawns over. Sometimes it is a struggle, where two men are fighting over inches for an advantage. Both men were pummeling for underhooks to defend against leg attacks (aka takedowns on the legs), both men were utilising whizzers to counter the underhooks, both men were fighting for head space to help with leverage on the upper body.
Kongo was even able to get the back a couple of times, but Jordan defended well, and when Jordan was able to turn back into him, Kongo attempted to tie him up in the Front Headlock and look for knees, which would have occurred with more frequency had Jordan not been gaming the system. By exploiting what the Unified Rules of MMA define as a 'downed opponent', Kongo's offense from here was basically shut down by Jordan's mat tickling. Kongo even looked to grip his hands for a Full Stocks / Crucifix but was never able to take control with it.
Some might have felt Kongo had such a clear advantage from boxing range he should have fought from there, but maybe he felt he needed to fight from the clinch and it was his prerogative to do so, and it's a valid position to fight from. Kongo wasn't able to dominate from there, and credit should be given to Jordan for being technical enough to negate this attack, but not enough turn things in his favour, at least not for very long. Having learned Kongo had hurt his shoulder and dislocated his collar bone in the fight based off of a pre-existing injury, his strategy makes more sense. Of course, in his post UFC 149 media scrum Dana White looked less than impressed when given this information, as anecdotal as it may have been.
And maybe that's the problem. With as vocal and in the public spotlight as Dana White is, he's able to influence a whole generation of fight fans with what he believes makes a great fight. Dana White is able to do so to the point a large portion of the fanbase will adopt his opinion as their own.
Just based off of his reaction last night -- which admittedly is compounded by other fights that were a let down -- Dana White doesn't appear to understand the grappling aspect of a fight unless it involves someone being slammed, someone moving around a lot, or someone being choked unconscious or having a bone broken. If you ask him what 'pummeling' is, he's more likely to answer with the striking definition than the grappling one.
Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan could have done more, yes. They both have room for technical development and progression. But this is sometimes what happens when an evenly matched pair of fighters face off, and as long as the clinch game is part of MMA it's up to us to become more educated in what we're seeing, including the UFC President.