A while ago I wrote about the uselessness of accusing the fighters of not fighting in an exciting way or not trying to finish fights. I said that the rules encourage safe fighting and that as long as the rules would not change safe fighting will continue to be a significant part of the sport.
The UFC wants to be sanctioned and that’s why they accept the Unified Rules of MMA, with their 10-point must system. I believe the UFC are now big enough and strong enough to be able to influence these rules if they wanted to, but that’s another matter. The important thing now is that they are bound by these rules and must follow them.
The problem that they now face is how to avoid the slow but steady decline of fighters to point-fighting while adhering to the same set of rules and without influencing the judges. The way Dana White has chosen to do this is by cutting any fighter who seems to be fighting safely, even when they are considered among the best in the world.
It started with the surprising release of Jon Fitch, followed by that of Yushin Okami, the lack of interest in signing Ben Askren, and now the release of Jake Shields.
The UFC cannot affect the rules but they can control the fighters, and they try to make them fight excitingly by keeping only those who bring the action, and threatening to cut those who don’t.
There is a lot of criticism surrounding this strategy. It is said that MMA is a sport, while the UFC is becoming a spectacle. Instead of trying to find who the best fighters in the world are, they are just trying to put on crowd-pleasing fights and make money.
While it may be true that the UFC are just trying to make money, I don’t think the sport of MMA should be confused with the current rules as they are portrayed in the Unified Rules of MMA. MMA is a sport of fighting. The exact rules of what is allowed and how to decide who the winner of a fight is were and are different in different organizations in the world. That doesn’t mean they don’t practice MMA.
Under the current set of rules Jake Shield and Jon Fitch won many fights which they wouldn’t have under different sets of rules. It’s not like a KO or submission, where there is a definite winner. Decisions are a matter of opinion in many cases.
So by cutting those fighters who fight safely and don’t go for the finish the UFC is actually just putting theirs spin on what winners should be like. They are saying that winners are not fighters who hold their opponents or control fights, but those who hurt their opponents and try to finish them.
The main problem with the situation is that it’s very subjective. Dana White is pretty much the guy who decides if someone is exciting enough and should still be fighting for the big league or not. While I generally agree with his opinions, this is not the way it should be done.
The real question, in my opinion, is whether these lackluster performances of guys who control their opponents but don’t hurt them or try to finish them, should be awarded the Win tags.