Schaub admits to boring, safe strategy to secure win and save job

Sunday, February 24, 2013

That strategy usually isn’t popular with the fans or the UFC brass, but it is dependable. At times, maybe it’s even necessary. Just take a look at Brendan Schaub. He came into his fight with Lavar Johnson riding a two-fight losing streak. If he didn’t consider himself one loss from the unemployment line, he probably should have. So is it any wonder that the increasingly knockout-prone Schaub approached his fight with the hard-hitting Johnson like it was a potential disaster to be survived? After three rounds of takedowns and cautious top control, he got his hand raised to a chorus of boos, but at least he stopped the losing skid. He might not have won many fans, but at least he still has a job.

This is the double-edged sword of the pressure to perform in the UFC. Exciting fights keep you employed, but if you’re too eager to put on a show, you risk making yourself easy prey for an opponent who’s willing to win at any costs. You could see it in Johnson, who ended up flinging leather at Schaub with increasing desperation, and in the process only making it easier for Schaub to plant him on his back and smother him in sweat. If your opponent is more willing than you are to bring on the boos in exchange for a safe victory, it puts him at a certain advantage.

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“I had to win tonight,” Schaub said. “The last two fights I lost, I fought with my guts rather than my brains. But tonight I needed to win this, so I used my brain. I know people were expecting a slugfest, but I’ve been working hard on my BJJ and thought I could sub him. At one point, he was talking to me on the ground saying, ‘Come on, dog, let’s stand and give the fans a show,’ and I said, ‘Sorry, bro, I gotta win this fight.’ And he said, ‘I hear ya.'”