MMA Opinion: What Brought You to the Dance

MMA Opinion: What Brought You to the Dance
Remember that time Dan Henderson kicked that guy? No, not his daughter's boyfriend on social media for funzies, I mean in that MMA fight? I know you don't. It would be weird if you did know the probably 4 1⁄2 times he may have thrown a kick in his long career – assuming you remember who Henderson even is or watched him fight. What might be weirder than the thought of him actually mixing his martial arts is the fact that what made him great in the sport is not what he should have been great at. Namely, the affectionately labeled H-Bomb (his ridiculous right hand). The crazy thing is that it is a right hand attached to an Olympic wrestler. You would be hard-pressed to find a fight or highlight from Hendo in MMA where you could deduce this was the case if you did not know it already.

The remarkable thing here is there is (or was) a trend in MMA when the chatter was that people would come to the sport being honed in a particular discipline, only to abandon it for something else. Whatever the reason, the main examples would be exactly like Henderson, only less successful. One would hear stories of wrestlers falling in love with their striking and then slipping in their records. It is true enough that somehow guys could take to a given track and find success like Dan. George Saint Pierre for example might actually fool a casual viewer into thinking he had been a high-level wrestler prior to MMA when in fact he never wrestled as a youngster. And as we are pointing out, his main discipline of Karate is not the thing on display most over his truly illustrious career. Like Hendo and the occasional lateral drop or outside trip that used his main skill to facilitate his acquired skill, GSP would use that Karate background as a sort of adjustment precision tool to get him in the position to wrestle and rack up points with kickboxing.

It can be almost comical to hear commentary from broadcasters and media alike that practically implores fighters to do what seems like they should be best at. This writer doesn't drink, but a drinking game at that mentions of Chuck Liddell's unused wrestling could lead to liver failure – maybe in a single fight! However reasonable it is to think they ought to do something that they excel at, it is indeed a waste of energy to yell at the screen. Justin Gaethje fought for a world title. Against a fighter from Dagestan who indeed did the thing everyone knows he was good at and has been on display non-stop on his path to 29-0. But Gaethje, like the aforementioned guys, has never been one to use his wrestling chops in a fight in the traditional sense or for that matter, in a way that might be expected from a NCAA Division 1 All-American (which he is). And he was in a title fight that was earned – against a grappler.

Just as common as fighters' main thing not apparently being their actual main thing is fighters who over time get away from their main thing to potentially detrimental results. Or fighters refusing to add wrinkles to their game so that their main thing gets picked apart. Whatever the case may be, it would seem to make sense that the adage is in full effect that would suggest fighters dance with the one that brought them and do what brings them success regardless of what may be assumed their biggest strength. In other words, to take the pragmatic approach that if it ain't broke, there is no need to pretend to be a Tae Kwon Do expert – that is how that goes, right?

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