Fight fans used to throw around the question, "Would you fight Mike Tyson for a million dollars?" For most the answer was easy. "Hell yeah! A million bucks to get knocked out in the first round? Why not?"
The problem with that question is that the average fan had nothing at risk.
Now the question fight fans will throw around is, "Would you fight Chael Sonnen in 8 days?"
For Joe Schmoe, it's an easy "Yes." Again, no risk. But let's say you've spent a good chunk of your life working your way up the ladder at your job. You're the youngest ever to reach the top of your game. You're paid based on your larger-than-life name and reputation. And if you lose to Sonnen in 8 days, you will see that name and reputation lose a significant amount of its worth. Now would you do it?
Then let's make an assumption based on your company's history that you will most likely get another match up in a month or so, one you may be more comfortable with. You can take a big risk now with not much reward, or you can take a smaller risk then for a similar reward. Now would you do it?
Fight fans received stunning news Thursday: UFC 151 event cancelled.
Main event challenger Dan Henderson suffered a knee injury which forced him to withdraw from his title fight with champion Jon Jones. With that fight gone, UFC management made the decision to pull the plug on the entire event.
But here's where the story gets complicated. No one wanted this on their hands. UFC President Dana White didn't just announce the cancellation on Thursday, he told the story from his perspective. White claims he offered the Jones fight to "several" contenders in the 205 weight class. The only one to step up was Chael Sonnen.
"Chael Sonnen accepted the fight with Jon Jones, wanted the fight bad. So as of eight, nine o'clock (Wednesday) night, we had a fight," White stated Thursday. However, "the one thing that I never thought in a million years would happen, happened. Jon Jones said, 'I'm not fighting Chael Sonnen with eight days notice.'"
UFC on Fox turned out to be a marquee fight card, not only for the organization, but for Joe Lauzon especially.
Each winner of the four main card fights won in their own trademark style. Mike Swick came back with a fan-friendly knockout. Lyoto Machida gave an elusive performance punctuated by a quick and understated KO. And Mauricio Shogun Rua fought another eye-popping war of attrition, this time winning by TKO.
But the picture perfect performance of the night was Lauzon's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu clinic against a very game opponent in Jamie Varner.
Through three rounds, Bridgewater, Massachusetts' "J-Lau" showed the beauty and effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu positioning, mixed with a healthy dose of MMA striking. He transitioned seamlessly from attack to attack until Varner simply fell one step behind.
No doubt, Varner was in this fight from the beginning, dropping Lauzon twice along the way to fight of the night honors. But the obvious difference was in Lauzon's Jiu Jitsu, which additionally earned him the submission of the night award.
Mixed Martial Arts would make a great Olympic sport. Its unique mixture of required skills would bring a new crop of athletes to the Olympics, while also encouraging multi-sport crossovers within Olympic teams. MMA could make the cut in the future. It would take some work, a whole lot of time and changes, and probably more patience than the average fan possesses, but it could be done. Should some entity in the MMA world attempt to move the sport in that direction?
In the Ancient Olympics, MMA was known as Pankration, meaning "all powers." Of course, in the Ancient Greek tradition, competitors were naked and oiled, and rules were extremely liberal. Today's Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts have gone a long way to make the sport palatable to modern audiences. However, MMA will not be admitted in the Olympics under existing rules.
The Olympic goal presents a great opportunity to review the sport's current rules and develop a separate set of amateur rules. Look to boxing for an example. Olympic and Amateur bouts make use of protective headgear and shorter fights.
I don't want to become a prediction guy. Of course I have my opinions, everybody does. Only problem is, everyone is wrong. MMA has proven time and again to be one of the most unpredictable sporting events out there. So I'm not going to stake my name on predictions. I will, however, offer up an additional angle to look at upcoming fights.
As we discussed in parts one and two, rematches seem to have their own mystique. The fighters have been there before, seen and felt what their opponent has, and both men are fighting for the legacy of not one, but two or three fights at once. So with the additional pressure and strategy involved, it might help to look at their rematch history when making predictions.
First up, the big one. Everyone has been waiting for the UFC 148 headlining rematch, Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. Their first fight had everything fans love: action, pace, surprises, grit, and one spectacular comeback. Their rematch is hotly anticipated.