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The Emotional Tug-of-War of MMA's Careless and Cautious

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SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Miguel Torres kicks Nick Pace during an UFC Bantamweight bout at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California on November 19, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 19: (L-R) Miguel Torres kicks Nick Pace during an UFC Bantamweight bout at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California on November 19, 2011 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

It occurred to me on Saturday night as I watched former UFC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres dismantle Nick Pace on the UFC 139 undercard that we really are a bunch of petulant children. Despite the fact that Torres beat Pace in every department, whether it be on the feet or the ground, we bitched incessantly about Torres' hesitance, relegating him to a landfill of past greats who tasted the leather and didn't survive. In the minds of many fans, Torres was washed-up goods, and his performance against Pace only confirmed that he didn't fit into the mold of what we love.

Five fights later, Stephan Bonnar dominated Kyle Kingsbury with an exhibition of his underrated grappling acumen in the opening bout of the UFC 139 main card. As one would expect, Bonnar was met with boos during the post-fight interview, and it only got worse when Bonnar confirmed that he didn't want to let Kingsbury pull off the incredible by doing something stupid in the late rounds of the bout.

Even former ruler of the mixed martial arts' world Fedor Emelianenko isn't immune to the criticism. He shocked fans with an evolved approach against hulking heavyweight Jeff Monson on Sunday morning at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia, utilizing quick footwork, a ranged kicking game, and short punching combinations to lessen the risk of being caught. The reaction? The Twitterverse erupted into one of the winiest daycare facilities on the face of the Earth, complaining that Fedor had lost his edge and should have finished Monson in the first round.

I'm not going to fabricate an opinion that I'm completely disgusted with the majority of MMA fans out there who think Torres is boring, Bonnar should have went for the finish, or Fedor should have blasted Monson into next week. Obviously, there is a part of me that wants to see Alvarez vs. Chandler, Rua vs. Henderson, and Silva vs. Le over and over again because those types of battles are pleasing to the mind and eye. Like the emotional struggle within a fighter to find, as Joe Rogan stated during the Torres' bout, the delicate balance between the two styles, fans also have that internal emotional struggle.

It's much simpler for fans however. Our lives aren't dependent on the choice. The choice only affects how we see the entertainment value in a fight. I can make a conscious decision to believe Torres' performance was great. He won, he won decisively, and he is a presence in the upper-echelon of the division. Conversely, I can write him off as boring and the value of his future fights, in my mind, isn't remotely close to what it was when he was wrecking everyone put in front of him during his early days in the WEC.

For fighters, the choice is difficult and temporary. It can change from fight-to-fight, but it's more likely that, with age, a fighter makes the conscious choice to pick his health over fame. The careless, immature 20-year-old brute who buried his opponents in a whilring dervish of violence ten years ago isn't the same fighter he used to be. Now, he has a wife and kids who nervously sit in front of the television hoping he makes it out of a fight unscathed and makes it home for dinner every night.

Naturally, the heavy-hearted thoughts of a person whose riddled with regrets and slowed speech are prevalent among fighters. They understand the risks they are taking every time they step into the Octagon. They also understand that fighting carelessly and recklessly can bring massive success, help you keep your job even when you lose, and give you a chance to earn an enormous bonus check at the end of the night. In order to make next month's mortgage payment, which makes the most sense?