If everyone fought like Jose Aldo, MMA would be a non-profit sport

MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas argues that if every top fighter had the same cautious, risk-averse approach to MMA as UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo then no one would pay to watch it.

Luke Thomas addressed Jose Aldo's fighting style at UFC 169 in yesterday's Chat Wrap at MMA Fighting:

You know what's interesting about this? I criticized Georges St. Pierre, and I really only focused it predominately on that Dan Hardy fight, because Dan Hardy was monumentally outclassed. It wasn't even a contest. The risk to GSP was theoretical more than actual, and he still wouldn't do things. I'll defend my argument that GSP was ridiculously risk averse in that fight. In some of his other fights he put on some courageous performances, though.

With Aldo, I think that your characterization is correct; I don't think there's anyone who can really challenge him, and I think he sees that. His weapons are great movement, leg kicks, jabs, counters, rib roasters and great take down defence, too, but in terms of offence that he scores with, that's about it. It's kind of amazing, and guys can't really do much about it.

I mentioned in one of my Signal to Noise' columns that you're just not seeing the full breadth of Aldo's game, because no one is pushing him to do it. It's like in basketball, you had Michael Jordan, and Michael Jordan was great because he could dunk, fast break, serve up to other players, defend, steal, pick and roll, lay up... He could do any number of things on the offensive and defensive sides that required a lot of athletic hustle and basketball IQ. Because he could handle the offensive and defensive side of the game almost simultaneously, you always got to see both what a great athlete he was, and what a basketball savant he was too.

Partly it's the nature of the game we're in, and it's partly because the guys Aldo is fighting don't push him. There's no question that Aldo now is a better fighter than the one who fought in the WEC. You can bemoan the reality of this if you want, but I don't think Aldo is deserving of criticism. This is what he's able to do, and he wins pretty decisively most of the time. The reality though, is if everybody fought like that... Aldo is in a peculiar situation, where he's better than everyone else, but what I mean is if all fights looked like that, this sport wouldn't exist.

I think Aldo deserves the space and the freedom to fight how he wants, and other fighters deserve the space and freedom to fight how they want to fight, and in the end it all works, but it's undeniable that if everyone fought the way Aldo vs. Lamas went, this would not be a for-profit enterprise. This would be like sport jiu-jitsu, where the only people in the stand are either competing or are close relatives. Even in the world championships you have empty seats in these fairly minimal arenas. That's what jiu-jitsu is; it's a participatory sport, not a spectator sport. That's kind of what MMA would be. Guys would be testing themselves on that level, but it's not something you could charge a lot of money for. You can bemoan that reality, but that is the reality.

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