Is Greg Jackson ruining MMA?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

UGBG (Underground Blog Guest Blogger) Ian Peterkin offers a historical perspective on Guida vs Maynard. Read more of Ian’s work at thelivershot.net.

“Come on and fight!”

That’s what Jack Dempsey screamed in the ring in 1927, frustrated with the defensive style of his opponent, Gene Tunney. Dempsey was revered for his power punches and willingness to exchange. Tunney, not exactly a fan favorite, was a thinking man, and out-pointed Dempsey in their two fights.

Similar displays of frustration and disgust were evident in the Nick Diaz/Carlos Condit and Clay Guida/Gray Maynard fights. Nick Diaz slapped Carlos Condit in an effort to make him exchange, and Gray Maynard dropped his hands in order to make Guida do the same. Following both fights, the UG lit up with fans decrying the game planning of Greg Jackson and his protégés. Some of that criticism is warranted, but so is Jackson’s position on the matter. He insists that the game plan in both fights was to stick and move. Rather than witnessing “good footwork,” as Kenny Florian said about Guida/Maynard, fans literally watched one fighter run after another. Footwork is about quick in-and-outs and circling, not making your opponent do an all out sprint.

Jack Dempsey once had this to say of boxing: “You’re in there for three-minute rounds with gloves on and a referee. That’s not real fighting.” What he meant by this is that it is fighting, but also a sporting contest. The same can be said of MMA. The sport is governed by athletic commissions, and there are certain rules by which participants and their coaches must abide. Greg Jackson is fully aware of that. He implements game plans for his fighters to win on points. Sometimes game planning makes for ugly fights.

Perhaps no one was more upset with the UFC on FX 4 main event than Gray Maynard. After the fight, Maynard said, “A couple steps, I understand that. You’re still in the pocket. You’re still there, able to hit me. But you’ve got to understand, it’s a fight, still. You can’t just go to the end of the cage and then back to the other end and back to the other end the whole time. You’ve got to give me a chance, too.” However, Clay Guida said, “I think mixed martial arts is, the guy who gets hit the least, usually is the victor.”

Who is right?

The objective in any fight is to inflict damage, while mitigating injury to one’s self. Did Clay Guida do that? Somewhat. Was it fun to watch? No. Dan Miragliotta, the referee for the fight, threatened to take away a point from Guida. Despite all his movement and short jabs, Guida lost by split decision, so the judges made the right decision—this time. For his efforts in the cage, Guida received deafening boos and will most likely find himself on the bottom of a future card. The UFC brass is not wont to rewarding “boring” performances. So, how exactly is Greg Jackson ruining the sport?