UFC 109: Elbows on the Ground, Elbows on the Ground, Lookin' like a fool...
As most of you know, I'm not the type who'd normally argue for making MMA's ruleset more restrictive. Heck, I'm the guy who when watching the scene from 300 where they held the baby over the cliff, for a brief moment, caught myself actually pondering whether or not that approach would be good for society. (Yeah, yeah, eugenics is EEEEVIL, blah blah blah Nazis, etc.)
So the point stands; I don't get squeamish over blood, nor do I believe that the human body (especially that of a highly trained athlete) is such a fragile thing that it needs to be swaddled in bubble-wrap and a bicycle helmet before leaving the house let alone entering The Octagon(™ Zuffa/Chuck Norris).
But as I was watching last night's fight between Chael Sonnen and Nate Marquardt, seeing the guy who was clearly winning leaking all over the guy who was, except for the whole "bleeding" thing, being mugged, I had a bit of an epiphany:
"It'd be a goddamn shame if Marquardt won this fight due to the cut".
And that's why I'm now flirting with the opinion that elbows should be restricted. It'd not because of the blood, or the injury; it's because a MMA fight should be won by the better fighter, and not the guy with the pokey-est body parts. If winning by a cut were intended to be a strategy, why bother having the fighters wear gloves? Why not allow headbutts? After all, elbows have more potential to open cuts than both headbutts and bareknuckle punches.
Now before all of you boney
motherf motorscooters out there, and Kenny Florian, get indignant at the thought of having your ability to turn your opponents into the Kool-Aid Man taken away, I said I was just "flirting" with the idea. I've got no plans on talking to any commissions about this, organizing letter writing campaigns involving envelopes filled with elbow macaroni, or standing outside the NSAC office waving a "Don't Bleed on Me" flag.
But we, as competitors, officials, and fans of MMA need to consider the important question in all of this: "is it ok if the better man loses the fight due to an injury?" Really ask yourself that, as someone who cares about the sport and not a particular fighter. Was it cool when Mark Coleman "won" his fight over Shogun because Shogun squrimed out of a takedown attempt and hurt himself? Did you enjoy seeing Coleman (and Baroni) up on the Pride ring ropes with their arms raised as if he'd actually defeated the guy?
The rules in MMA exist to serve two purposes:
- To protect the competitors from severe injury where possible
- To ensure the better fighter wins
And when it comes to elbows, there happens to be a fairly huge gap in which those criteria are not being met.
I honestly don't know where I'm going with this article; like most of what I write, it's stream-of-consciousness with little revision as I go along. And it's kind of weird to be writing a piece without a clear point to make one way or another. Still, it's something we, as a community should be discussing.