When Dan Hardy got up from the mat, after about 25 minutes of doing a great job avoiding being finished by then WW champion – GSP, he was the perfect gentleman. When interviewed by Joe Rogan in the octagon, he said (in so many words): “I was outclassed. I need to work on my wrestling skills.”
One of MMA’s greats, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, made a career of punching people in the face, while moving backwards, stuffing takedown attempts.
Current UFC HW champ, Stipe Miocic, forces his fights to be on the feet due to great takedown defense.
Why am I bringing this up? And what does it have to do with fixing MMA?
The game is evolving. It started with BJJ being the dominant force, continued with Muay Thai and other striking techniques, dirty boxing and sometime, during the rising of this sport, it seemed like wrestling was taking over.
In order to get a submission, it was necessary to take the opponent down and gain a position of dominance, and since – if we listen to the wise – position comes before submission, the ability to control your opponent on the ground became crucial. More so, if a fighter felt he can’t gain said dominance on the feet.
Some fans rebelled. Some fighters did too. Complaining that this style of fighting is “boring” and that the fighters who employed wrestling skills drain the fun and so on and so forth.
My reaction to these was – Well, there are actually two fighters in the octagon. Why is it only the wrestler’s fault? Where is the responsibility on his opponent? Had he been able to neutralize the takedown, he would force the fight to his preferred arena and everyone would be happy (except the wrestler’s fans), no?
I still maintain that it’s up to both fighters – where the fight takes place. However, I do believe there’s a chance to improve.
One piece of criticism I do find just is that the rules – as they are now – are in favor of the wrestler.
If you pay attention at the beginning of MMA events, when they go over the rules of the octagon, you’d notice that takedowns are scored. Sometimes, a fighter would score on a takedown that wasn’t followed up by any additional offensive maneuver. It could be a takedown followed by the fighter on the bottom getting up immediately. Yet, this is scored.
No, I am not suggesting not to reward a fighter on the ability to take his opponent down. That would actually hurt the game more than it would do any good. The aggressor would be taking a big risk (and a TD attempt is a risk) with absolutely no reward.
What I am suggesting is the opposite.
There is a skill called takedown defense. Dan Hardy – admittedly – did not excel in it. Chuck Lidell did.
If a fighter knows that there’s a risk of being scored against, should he fail to take his opponent down, these attempts would have to be more calculated. That would force fighters (and coaches) to further evolve. Find a way to be more efficient perhaps. It would also highly encourage (having a motivation in form of scoring points) other fighters and coaches to step up their own wrestling game.
That way, the skills would increase overall, the level of competition would get a boost and the rules would be more just. And the fans? Well, no room for complaints, now is there?
What do you think?
Would you like to see takedown defense scored?
Is there another way you can think of to level that battle field?
Would love to hear different opinions too.