Blood, Brawn and Brains: Where to draw the line?


So it seems that with each passing mixed martial arts event that transpires at the top level, we have a new fight that causes feverous hysteria throughout this most unique sports world. From UFC 165’s five round war of attrition between Alexander Gustafsson and champion Jon Jones, to the three round, highly overstated match up between Diego Sanchez and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, and most recently the much anticipated rematch between Bellator lightweights Eddie Alvarez and champion Michael Chandler, we seem to be seeing many people trying to make themselves part of the history of sport.

Too often of late have we heard many heavily involved people, the main perpetrators being UFC president Dana White and their colour commentator Joe Rogan, getting too immediately excited about fights, lending them too much credence without much prior thought. It appears that with every good fight, people are clamouring to call fights the best of whatever they can; ‘the fight of the year’, ‘the greatest fight in (insert weight class here) history’, ‘the greatest in between round break in UFC history’. It is unnecessary commendation of something that should be able to stand alone on its own merit. Just unlike needing somebody to tell people that Daniel Day Lewis’ performance in There will be Blood was as great as it was, or that Lynyrd Skynyrd are one of the greatest rock bands of all time, the public do not need somebody to insist that their own powers of deduction are so weak that they should further sell something that the fans have already bought, before they would be able to see the true value of it.

Diego Sanchez versus Gilbert Melendez was not fight of the year. Although that statement may be divisive, there is nothing that signifies lack of personal caution and technical skill like fighting like Diego Sanchez did on that night. Is it exciting to watch a fight where two fighters stand toe to toe until one of them drops? Perhaps. But I would much rather see a technical battle, much like the aforementioned main event at UFC 167, which will allow the competitors to leave the fight and, while most likely beaten up, within a few days or weeks of the bout, superficial marking will have dissipated and the fighter can go back to having a high quality of life, without slurred speech or in any way deteriorated cognitive function. Case in point, last weekend’s Eddie Alvarez versus Michael Chandler at Bellator 106.

This managed to offer up a much more exciting narrative than Sanchez/Melendez, with the fight going back and forth, up until the fifth round where Alvarez was able to aggressively attack submissions, only for a defiant and bloodied Chandler to spoil the prospects of Alvarez getting the finish. Ultimately, it was Alvarez who took a close split decision win. This fight will stay in my mind for much longer than the contrasting ‘war’ that happened in Texas, due to the fact that both fighters left the cage with more credibility than when they arrived.

I understand fully the charge that comes with watching a knockdown, drag ‘em out, spit and grit brawl, and they do happen, usually by circumstance but the authorities and fighters cornering team should show a bit more apprehension and understanding of how dangerous the sport is and how degenerative brain disorders have plagued other combat sports since their inception. I am a fan of most fighters, but not for one second would I chose an dangerous fight over the safety of the athletes I so loyally follow.

By Glenn Desmond – @gdez123

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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