Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Posted on September 30, 2013, 08:49 PM by Brian Cox
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This week the UFC cut Yushin Okami and where it’s been greeted with applause by many fans, it’s also been met with some hard questions from others.

“Thunder” was not the most exciting fighter to grace the UFC’s Octagon, but he was nonetheless, a successful one.

Okami had a 13 & 5 record, going 3 & 1 in his last four and was a ranked middleweight fighter. By normal standards, one would think that those numbers would be more than good enough to keep not only Okami in the UFC, but also any fighter with a like set.

However, that proved not to be the case and that indeed, there was a more important number that Okami should have tended to and that was the one of finishes. For his 13 wins, Yushin only managed to glean five stoppages and for a woeful 38 % finishing rate; not an amazing yield, to say the least.

In considering his success ratio in the Octagon, which is 72% and in juxtaposition to his finishing rate of 38%, a conundrum is revealed and an argument stirred.

Is winning enough?

On one side of the fence, many fans would like to see Okami and all fighters like him gone, because they bore the daylights out of them, with their fighting style(s).

On the other side of the fence, stand the fans who believe cutting winning fighters of Okami’s caliber diminishes the brand and erodes its credibility. That regardless of whether or not a fighter is exciting, if they can beat their other opponent then they are the better fighter; period, and it seems like a reasonable deduction.  

However in retort, decriers of fighters like Okami or fellow UFC cast-off Jon Fitch would stipulate to their belief, that simply taking a fighter down and controlling him isn’t fighting, and that more importantly, it’s boring to watch. On this issue, Dana White appears to agree.

To consider both cases and minus any bias, is to appreciate both sides of the story as being equally true.

Yes, Okami and Fitch were or certainly could be boring fighters to watch, but nonetheless, they were winning fighters and at the end-of-the-day, isn’t the sport supposed to be about establishing who the best fighters are?

That said, would any of us be watching or would the sport even exist, if every fight was like Fitch / Penn? One would have to figure that most MMA fans would answer no to that question.  

However, the argument still remains from the other side, that fighters who can’t prevent takedowns and being controlled on the ground, should learn to do so, and that fighters like Okami and Fitch, stood as solid tests and roadblocks, to any fighters that are weak in the areas that they excel in. In a nutshell, that wrestling heavy opponents, such as Okami and Fitch, force stand-up fighters to be well rounded and helps weed out those that are unsound.

Of course, another way of considering the problem is that by cutting fighters like Okami and Fitch, the UFC, and Bellator to a lesser extent, will force quality fighters like Okami and Fitch to up their games, beyond what they are, now.

However and as all things, there are exceptions to the rules, and the exception to this rule and indeed the elephant in the room, would be UFC welterweight champion Georges. St. Pierre.

“Rush” has an overall finish rate of just 42% (8 stoppages in 19 wins) and since claiming the belt from Matt Serra back in 2008, he’s only managed a 22% rate; 12.5% if we just consider his championship title defenses (1 for 8).

GSP is the first name that comes to mind for most critics, when they start talking about boring decision fighters, who employ far too much ground control in their games. Yet, the champion has been amazingly successful in the UFC and is the promotion’s biggest revenue generator and draw. Concordantly, Rush also has an enormous fan base that accompanies his success. All this, despite the decisions. As such, Rush flies in the face of a basic numbers crunch on finishing rates.

The problem with simply looking at the numbers regarding a fighter like GSP is that they don’t always tell the whole story. Even with his six straight decision victories, Rush is still turning in exciting performances and rarely disappoints his fans, with his full on pace and domination of his opponents.

Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar would be two more fighters who suffer from low finishing percentages, yet still manage to deliver exciting bouts. At zero percent for Henderson and only 30% for Edgar, no one could argue that their numbers would warrant keeping them in the UFC, not if the promotion is cutting guys like Okami and Fitch, at 38 and 30 percent respectively. Yet, they are stalwart fixtures within the UFC, because the're exciting.

In synopsis, it seems that the operative word in all of these considerations is not wins or losses, but excitement and it begs the question, if a fighter were to consistently put on amazing performances, but never win, would the UFC cut him / her? It would be an interesting question to put to Dana White.   

Either way though, it seems as if the days of decision heavy fighters who fail to put on exciting performances in their wins, are coming to an end.


Comments

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  • akieyugames
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    Gonna say it again, It doesn't matter if you're boring, or what Dana calls a "gatekeeper" or you're ranked, or on a loosing streak, or winning streak, or even good friends with Dana. The only thing that matters is your marketability. If you can sell tickets to your fights, and give the Boss his FAIR SHARE of a fcuking sack load of money, then you are safe. Like it or not, the UFC is still a bussiness. Dana's excuse for cutting Okami because he became a gatekeeper is plain crap, Mir is a gatekeeper, Bisping, Mittrione. but damn can they sell tickets. Dana should just say it as it is, real talk.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Kris-tyahn
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    Agreed, also the difference between Okami/Fitch & GSP is...... when was the last time anyone thought GSP lost a round, let alone the fight?!? Being so dominant to the point you make great fighters look avg., only speaks to how good GSP is. GSP stood vs. Shields & Koscheck for 24 of 25 mins, but people cry b/c he didn't finish & he didn't look very good vs. Shields in the 4th & 5th rounds b/c he could only see out of one eye. then he fights Condit & Diaz pretty much 50/50 on the feet & ground & people still cry b/c he didn't finish them.

    How many times was Alves finished before he fought GSP? Same with Fitch, Shields, Condit, Diaz etc.? Fitch went 6 yrs undefeated, let alone losing a fight, Shields went 7 yrs undefeated & beat Henderson and GSP owned both fighters. Condit was finished once since 2006 & it wasn't in the WEC or UFC, and it was almost 8 yrs ago. Diaz, was only finished once (legitimately - b/c TKO cuts/Dr stoppage doesn't count IMO), which occured in 2002, 11 yrs since he fought GSP. Diaz had only lost once since 2007 & that was to Condit, so he went 6 yrs undefeated. These are the types of fighters GSP embarasses, guys who go 4, 5, 6 & 7 yrs undefeated, while only being finished once or twice in 25+ fights, but he still gets **** on b/c he doesn't do what 95% of other fighters haven't been able to do either? But GSP is the only man to make these world class fighters look like they're avg. fighters. How many fighters can say they made BJ Penn quit or beat him twice? (Edgar & GSP, but Edgar won both by decision), how many people have owned Alves, Fitch, Condit, Shields & Diaz for 25 mins (before they fought GSP)?!? 15 mins is one thing, but dominating world class opponents for 25 mins is another!

    Reply 7 months ago
  • odesahitman
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    akieyugames,
    Great point...

    I would add that the UFC slogan "As real as it gets" doesn't work when people go into the cage to win via points... A couple of thousand years ago, the Spartans complained that biting was not allowed during fights...

    Personally, i've no doubt that a well placed bite can dramatically alter the complexion of a fight... And the complexion of a fight should be the destruction of the opponent.

    The argument I'm making is that being a top ranked fighter who doesn't fight but wins does not support the UFC position of being "as real as it gets".

    Your point RE the ability of fighters to market themselves is undeniably important... however I don't believe that it is a point that stands on its own.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • David Saucier
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    Sometimes getting cut is a blessing in disguise, I have seen many fighters make it back to the UFC a better and improved fighter. On the other hand some fighters never make it back, and cant change up their game enough.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Krogan
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    That is assuming that Dana White and the UFC actually still understand their fans and the people that support MMA. Personally I know quite a few people that have been MMA fans since Pride days that are losing interest and only watching a couple of events a year because of the direction Dana has taken the UFC.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    David, regarding one of those fighters, Josh Burkman, there's a fighter who hasn't come back, but has built a name for himself, his game has certainly improved and it could be argued that he'd rank in the UFC top ten.

    Being cut certainly worked for Burkman in terms of getting his MMA act together; would love to see him back in the big show.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    An excellent, passionate and fact based defense of the champ, Kris. As an ardent GSP fan, I salute you. /

    Reply 7 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    I think another thing is that GSP has an entire country that supports him nearly as their only fighter. He has cornered the MMA market in Canada and when everyone in a country is onboard for one man there is no chance of failure in the making money for Dana race. If you did take out the Canadian fans you would maybe have a far different scenario for Rush. Conor McGreggor is 2 fights in the UFC and has star power better than most of the champs in the UFC because he is a bloodline that represents a massive part of America and their Irish roots.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Entity
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    I think its more Connor';s attitude. Hes more likeable than a couple of dooshes we have had as champs.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • rodenzi
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    True. Solid truth.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • rodenzi
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    True. Solid truth.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • wpgshootr
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    Here Here.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Kris-tyahn
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    Thanks Brian, appreciate it! Like you said, it's based on facts! Yes I'm a HUGE GSP fan, b/c I find what he does even more fascinating & impressive than KOing guys in the 1st or 2nd round. Anyone can KO his/her opponent, but how many people can keep doing what GSP has been doing for the last 6 years? Which is dominate & make incredible fighters look avg?!? How people blame him for being boring, when he's the one being "great", dominating & neutralizing his opponent is confusing!

    People don't like the way he fights b/c he uses his brain/intelligence more so than his "strength/muscles," fair enough. But what people don't seem to understand is the part GSP uses is by far the most dangerous weapon any fighter could utilise. I dunno I think winning 33 straight rounds in 7-8 fights, 6 of them being title fights in a span of 3 yrs is far more impressive than any UFC record held by any other fighter IMHO. No other champ has come close to doing what GSP has, not even close!

    If I'm not mistaken, GSP has only lost 4 rounds since losing to Serra in 2008. 11 fights - 46 rounds total. He won 42 of 46 rounds! Cheers!

    Reply 7 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    I think it's harder to destroy your opponents actually for years on end. Even GSP thinks it's harder. It takes a greater fighter to stop your opponents continuously than to take decisions. It takes a greater ATHLETE to control your opponents continuously. GSP strives to get finishes but can't get them where others get them because of superior technique or greater fighting ability rather than having most athleticism.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Brian Cox
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    Kris, I think the other part of that equation is exactly who he's beaten. The only other fighter and subsequently champion, who has a similar pedigree of victims would be Jon Jones.

    The fighters that Rush has beaten are all great fighters and most times when GSP steps into the Octagon, he's facing a guy that could beat him.

    On the other hand, Anderson Silva and his storied record, have a considerable lesser cast of characters to boast about.

    Bottom line is that Rush is an awesome fighter and incredible champion, and although I've seen him in one snooze fest (the Shields fight), he generally delivers great fights and I for one, love them.

    I also appreciate that GSP is a fighter that you get your money's worth out of. It's the upside of a low finishing rate. The Fitch, Condit and Diaz fights were all fun bouts to watch; particularly the Fitch Condit fights.

    As GSP has made known that he's "working on something" that he should have been working on for a long time and that he's working on it for the Hendricks fights, I anticipate a different look from GSP this time round. The thing I hope he's working on is power.

    That said, GSP does have some power, as he's knocked a number of fighters off their feet.

    Cheers, to you.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    I disagree that he's faced better fighters. there is easily matches for everyone he has fought at 185. Maia is proving it right now that his beast set is toppling the best of 170 much easier than Rush could do it. Also guys far less dominant have finished fighters that he couldn't because they are better fighters but not better athletes.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    Silva has been through 4 champs 3 of whom were dominant champs and GSP has been through 3 champs only one being dominant at his weight class the other two are a lucky puncher and a 155er. The real competition has been Condit, Fitch, Sheilds and Hughes. All who I think are easier than Maia, and 2 are 1 dimensional. Can't argue Hughes and Condit. Anderson has faced Dan Henderson in prime, Rich Franklin in prime, Forrest in prime, Maia, Okami, and Vitor all who I think with the exception of Condit and Hughes were far greater fighters than who GSP has faced.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • falcon4917
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    By the way, your a cool guy and i respect that you like GSP but I feel differently about the supposed depth of GSPs past competition. I think he is a great fighter but an even better athlete and the latter gets him those wins while others far lesser athletes finish the guys he couldn't himself. I think GSP can do it I feel he is to obsessed with the win for his fans than the win of the fight, I feel he fights very much to just get to the end of R5 with more points.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Brasil
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    GSP fights are an awesome way to spend time.....you wake up and 25 minutes just disappeared from your life.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Kris-tyahn
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    U must still be **** HURT b/c GSP spanked Alves, who had 20+lbs on GSP & was destroying everyone he fought until he got spanked by GSP! Oh, wait you're still BUMMY HURT from Anderson getting KTFO by a wrestler, who had just 9 pro fights. BAHAHAHAHA, a wrestler who had 2 major shoulder surgeries, 4-6 months of rehab, lost his house, was financially broke and haden't fought in a year/MAJOR RING RUST, and he still KTFO out of Silva at his own game = OUCH!!!

    At least when uneducated people like you wake up, the WW KING is STILL champ, while your fighter was still asleep when Weidman was MW champ!

    Reply 7 months ago
  • akieyugames
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    ouch

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Evan Holober
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    Its the money.

    Okami is on his third or fourth contract cycle (similar to Fitch), and was getting far more guaranteed than others possible to fill that position.

    Dana can claim all he wants that it wasn't about the money, but the bottom line is Okami is in the gatekeeper position (which is actually incredibly important in combat sports) while getting paid a pretty damn good veteran contract.

    Reply 7 months ago
  • Cpt. Paranoid
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    It's mma!!! Lay n pray doesn't get you a KO or TKO, but wrestling is a martial art and therefore a part of mma. And yes the ufc is a company, but mma is a sport. If Dana wants exiting fights with bloody KO's and TKO's he should be promoting the sport of muay thay. Or if he wants entertainment he should talk to Vince McMahon. Because mma is all about being well rounded, but you don't see Dana cutting stand up guys that have no ground game if they have KO power. I'm just saying you should be allowed to use what ever your strength is to win the fight. If a fighter just humps his way to victory is it his fault or the guy getting humped's fault? Blaming a guy that humps his way to victory is as stupid as blaming the guy that knocks people out. Would Dana cut a fighter that always knocks his opponents out with the first punch, because that would get really boring to watch as well in the long run. If the ufc is all about the money and the ufc, not about the sport of mma, then it wont take long before it has no credibility. The cuts should be made according to the rankings, that's the only fair way.

    Reply 7 months ago