Dan Hardy kicked it off with a rant about Nik Lentz’s dominant, yet stale performance over Andre Winner.
“Nik Lentz didn’t come to fight Andre (Winner), he actually came to avoid one at all costs, like he’d be shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize and didn’t want to mess up his chances of winning it. Lentz grabbed hold of Dre’s leg for three coma-inducing rounds, which the ticket-paying public clearly didn’t appreciate.
“Rather than saying ‘oh, these guys can’t wrestle’, I think the problem is there’s beginning to be too much wrestling in UFC Octagon, not too little of it in the gym. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves ‘UFC fighters’ who are nothing of the kind. In the UFC, you should go for finishes. You should work for 15 minutes to knock your opponent out, submit him, or improve your position to give yourself the best chance of doing either. But there’s guys out there who just want to use wrestling to hold a stalemate for 15 minutes, without ever risking going for ground and pounds or attempting submissions. The Athletic Commissions need to look at the scoring and refereeing to stop this from becoming a problem. If a guy is in a dominant position, but not actually doing anything offensive – stand ’em back up. If he is consistently trying to tie the other guy up to avoid actual fighting – warn him and then start taking points. It is supposed to be a fight.”
Then Shinya Aoki tried to tell MMA Fighting’s Daniel Herbertson that American wrestlers don’t take any chances.
“The American wrestling style – punching a little bit, getting a takedown and moving to side control to win the round has no risk. It’s an easier fight. It’s just using the judges. They don’t even have to worry about injuries or anything like that. There is no risk.
“I’m a huge fan of the UFC, but I think that it hasn’t been very interesting lately. There are good fighters of course but not so many interesting fights. They punch a little bit, then get a takedown and every round is just a repetition of that.
“I am a big fan of aggressive fighters like BJ Penn, Joe Stevenson, Kenny Florian, Melvin Guillard and Nate Diaz.. Everyone else is just wrestling and it’s not interesting at all.
“Japanese MMA is totally different. We go for knockouts and submissions from the beginning and going for the decision isn’t an option.”
“The sport could become quite boring, as it has been in a few fights in the last UFC. I know its mixed martial arts and you have to be good everywhere but I think there has to be some kind of rule that you have to work to finish or something,” Daley said in his radio appearance.
“There has to be some kind of way of bringing back the ‘Bloodsport’ – I’m sure I read somewhere that the guy who came up with the UFC based it on Bloodsport the movie – there has to be some kind of entertainment factor.
“You should be fighting, not to the death as such, but to finish, you have to be going in there to destroy the guy. If youre going in there to wrestle at least posture up and ground ‘n’ pound the fuck out of him, look to knock him out. If you are sick at jiu jitsu don’t just lay in guard walking your hips around like some kind of snake – slap a triangle on, go for an armlock.
“If you’re a striker don’t be hopping around like an idiot looking for angles, throw you punches, throw your kicks. If you’re getting in that cage you have to be looking to finish the guy … not just control his hips and lay there for 15 minutes, that’s bullshit.”
Clearly, Hardy, Aoki and Daley aren’t fans of lay n’ pray, but rather than complain about it, other prominent mixed martial artists have decided to do something about it. Kenny Florian, who just lost to Gray Maynard in a title eliminator because he couldn’t stop Gray’s takedown, went out and hired Boston University’s assistant wrestling coach, Sean Gray, to help him with his wrestling game. Then there’s Nate Marquardt who couldn’t stay off his back against Chael Sonnen earlier this year. He thinks people are only complaining about wrestling because they’re not very good at it.
“I think that’s just something from someone who isn’t a good wrestler,” Marquardt said about Hardy. “I think wrestling is a big part of MMA, and you shouldn’t complain about it, you should learn it and learn how to defend against it.”
Speaking about his fight with Sonnen, Marquardt is honest about his shortcomings and what he did when he went back in the gym to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“I was unable to defend the takedowns in my last fight, and that’s why I lost the fight,” Marquardt commented. “Now I’m going to be more prepared to defend the takedown no matter who I’m fighting, and I worked hard on my wrestling and I continue to work hard on my wrestling.”
“With mixed martial arts we see waves of changes, trends in the sport where one minute it’s strikers that are dominating the sport, then all of a sudden it’s the wrestlers, then it kind of goes back and forth, and I think it’s just something you have to pay attention to and be prepared for,” he commented.
Look, I hate three rounds of smothering as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day, wrestling is a part of mixed martial arts as it should be. Fighters like the ones quoted above can complain about it all they want, but that’s not going magically help them stuff a takedown the next time their in the cage with a dominant wrestler. There’s no avoiding it. If they want to get to the pinnacle of this sport and stay there, they’re going to have to plug the holes in their wrestling game.
That said, I agree with Paul Daley in that there needs to be an emphasis placed on finishing the fight. That should always be the goal and something judges should take into heavy consideration when marking their scorecards.