Brendan Schaub Just Showed Us What Is Truly ImportantIf you are a MMA fan, then surely you have heard about the recent, and upcoming, UFC roster cuts.
Earlier this week, the UFC released 16 fighters, with 2 more coming days after, and UFC president has been quoted as saying that 100 fighters will be released in 2013 to make room for other divisions to add fighters. Now as much as some do not like this stance, it is something that needs to happen with the start of new divisions in the UFC.
The biggest issue however was people's proclamation that fighters would go out and fight "exciting" to try and save their jobs. Of the 18 men that were cut this week, all 18 were coming off at least one loss in the UFC. Some had more than one, and contrary to popular belief, being an "exciting" fighter didn't save any that fell into that category. For the UK fans here, "Beautiful" Che Mills has always been an exciting professional, but when the axe fell, his style could do nothing to save him. Same goes for Paul Sass.
Now obviously we don't know if fighters that win will be cut following the victory, but you have to assume that a winner won't be cut over losers. This point brings me to last night's Brendan Schaub/Lavar Johnson matchup.
When the night began, many fans watched fighters like Nah-Shon Burrell, Kenny Robertson, Sam Stout, Dennis Bermudez and Michael Chiesa put on entertaining matchups with their respected opponents. All of a sudden, Face Book and Twitter were filled with "See, guys are gonna fight this way to try and save their jobs". Fact is, between these 5 men, they have amassed 59 career wins, with 39 coming of those victories coming via some sort of finish. Simple fact is, that even when these men lose, they have never received the "boring" tag before, so it was no surprised that all these men fought as they did.
Was the cutting issue in their head? More than likely, but none really did anything different then what they always have. Bermudez's opponent, Matt Grice, has a career record of 15-1, with 10 of those victories coming via finish. At the end of the day though, he lost fighting how he usually does, and is no safer from being released for fighting this way. Same goes for fighters like Anton Kuivanen (17 wins, 12 finishes), Josh Neer (33 wins, 29 finishes), and Caros Fodor (7 wins, 5 finishes).
Now once these fights finished up, we got to the fight that almost everyone, including yours truly, expected to produce the biggest fireworks of the night. The 2 men had combined for 24 finishes in 36 fights, and havd never really been involved in what people would call a "boring fight. The men had earned their reputation for vicious knockout wins over their career, and we all expected much of the same.
Funny thing happened though, Schaub decided to try and win the fight and not please all of us all at the same time.
From the opening bell, the former NFL player Schaub attempted to take down the obviously lacking a ground game Johnson, and was able to secure 5 of his 8 attempted take downs, as well as successfully achieving 8 passes and 1 reversal. Johnson did out strike Schaub 36-18, and was able to land a take down of his own, but in the end, Schaub's game plan was able to secure him the victory, a clean 30-27 sweep across the board. Now obviously Johnson was looking for that one big strike to finish Schaub, but that has always been Johnson's MO as a professional. It had nothing to do with saving his job, since he has been knocking men out since 2004. Schaub himself has 7 career knockout wins, but has also been on the wrong side of the knockouts his previous 2 matches.
So if what people say is true, (fighters will be more exciting to try and save their job), wouldn't Schaub have not only gone for the victory, but also for that exciting finish to make fans take notice? Simply put, no, as he didn't have to.
Fighters will fight how they fight. We may see the odd change of pace from time to time, as we did from Jon Fitch against Eric Silva at UFC 153, but it's ridiculous to expect fighters that have had success being "boring" will suddenly turn into vicious killers in the Octagon. Losing at any point now is going to be grounds for almost any fighter to be released, boring or not, while winning is a very unlikely scenario for that to happen in, no matter how it happens.
At the conclusion of UFC 157, several fighters that lost are in realistic danger of being released from the promotion, but I can almost guarantee you that not one fighter that was victorious is all too worried about looking for work in the upcoming days. Styles won't be a saving grace for a lot of fighters with the inevitable cuts coming, but winning, regardless of how it happens, sure will be.
The time of cutting a fighter for being "boring" may still be here, but it is no longer the only factor for being released. Exciting fighters will suffer the same fate with a loss, and Brendan Schaub showed us that winning is the key goal for all professional fighters more than ever right now, regardless of how they choose to do it, or are capable of doing it.
Published by Jasyn Zangari - Sun, 24 Feb 2013 18:25