UFC welterweight contender Dan Hardy (23-7) wrote a recent column in the Notthingham Evening Post arguing that a growing number of MMA competitors in the Octagon are using wrestling to avoid fighting, and hurting the sport in the process.
Hardy’s column also responds to the criticism that British fighters lack the wrestling acumen to consistently remain among the UFC’s elite.
Rather than saying ‘oh, these guys can’t wrestle’, I think the problem is there’s beginning to be too much wrestling in UFC Octagon, not too little of it in the gym. There are a lot of people out there calling themselves ‘UFC fighters’ who are nothing of the kind. In the UFC, you should go for finishes.
The column continues…
This isn’t ‘cheating within the rules’ – it is actually against the rules. ‘Timidity’ is outlawed in the Unified MMA rules and what better describes the act of holding on to an opponent and waiting for the clock to tick down with no attempt or inclination to do any damage?
While Hardy points to the UFC 110 bout between George Sotiropoulos and Joe Stevenson as an example of a ground contest where both fighters did their job and tried to finish the fight, doesn’t the blame go both ways? Nobody wants to see a fighter stall and hold on desperately, but the best way to avoid that is good footwork, takedown defense, and a strong, active Jiu Jitsu game.
And what is Hardy’s solution?
The Athletic Commissions need to look at the scoring and refereeing to stop this from becoming a problem. If a guy is in a dominant position, but not actually doing anything offensive – stand ‘em back up.
If he is consistently trying to tie the other guy up to avoid actual fighting – warn him and then start taking points. It is supposed to be a fight.
I certainly don’t disagree with his points. However, referees already have the power to stand up a fight when the man on top isn’t taking advantage of his position. And there have been times where judges recognized that the fighter on his back, not the wrestler on top, was winning the fight, Jeremy Horn’s victory over Trevor Prangley at UFC 56 being one example.
Maybe it’s worth coming up with a new scoring system that would allow for point deductions for stalling, similar to what happens in amateur wrestling. And there is no doubt that not all judges and referees are created equal. Nevertheless, the best solution to this so-called problem remains dictating the pace and deciding on your own where to take the fight.