Sins are inevitable in combat sports but serve as excellent examples of what not to do. From Paul Daley to Chuck Liddell, these are the seven deadly sins of Mixed Martial Arts.
Wrath: “Let Me Bang, Bro!”
The late strike, the fighter who either can’t keep it professional or is taking advantage of a controversial rule. The former being Paul Daley. After a unanimous decision victory for Josh Koshchek at UFC 113, “Semtex” decided that the agreed upon fifteen minutes were not enough. I’m not saying Josh Koscheck didn’t deserve to eat that shot well after the final bell, but it was blatantly illegal, and Daley’s punishment reflected that. Immediately cut from the UFC only to fight with the likes of Impact FC and Shark Fights. It was your first loss in the UFC. Take a breath and count to ten, dude.
The late strike can become controversial with fighters like Germaine de Randamie. Her fight with Holly Holm comes to mind as an excellent example of this with several strikes thrown —and landed— after the horn. These strikes were met with boos from the audience and myself at home. But were these strikes even illegal? According to the man who wrote the book, they were not. Big John McCarthy said in a tweet that the round is not ended by the bell, the round is ended by the referee, the bell is simply their reminder. Although legal, most people would agree it is a dirty tactic much like throwing a teep kick while touching gloves. Looking at you, Nadia…
Sloth: The Timid
Two heavyweights, the two hardest hitters in fighting, a combined total of five hundred and twenty-six pounds… and thirty-one strikes landed over fifteen minutes. A whole lot of nothing. The promise of greatness, of a knockout for the ages, for some good old fashioned swangin’ and bangin’! Fans were left empty and disappointed. I don’t want to put blame on the two men involved, because if I were standing across the cage from either Francis Ngannou or Derrick Lewis, I would be apprehensive to say the least. Scared shitless may be more apt. But these men are professional fighters. This is literally what they signed up for. So why sign the paper? Why agree to the fight? The only thing it did was harm their reputation and earn them hundreds of thousands of dollars. No real incentive… right?
But real timidity comes from a place you wouldn’t expect. UFC pioneer and Hall of Famer Matt Serra’s significantly lesser known brother, Nick. The “Mad Monkey” was handed his most recent, and final loss via disqualification for timidity. Sherdog states this as a DQ (Wouldn’t Get Up From Butt Scoot). I guess greatness doesn’t always run in the family.
In my opinion, if you spend your life to become a professional fighter, don’t be surprised when you’re expected to fight.
Greed: The Modern Day Scrooge McDuck
When I think of greed and fighting, I know there are a lot of opportunities for low hanging fruit. Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Jake Paul, “Funky” Ben Askren . But what about the man at the top, Dana White. The men and women that fight in his organization are the toughest people on the planet and they willingly put their bodies and brains on the line for peanuts. The precise numbers vary between sources, but here is an idea of the average athlete salary over recent years from a few other professional leagues.
NFL (~1,700 players) – $2,700,000/year
MLB (~780 players) – $3,890,000/year
NBA (~500 players) – $7,700,000/year
The average UFC fighter gets paid roughly $150,000/year with half of the fighters earning less than $72,000/year. Toss a couple more 0’s on the end of that Dana, you know you want to. The greed of the fighter has never been the problem, it is the greed of the ringmaster.
Pride: Never Give Up
Justin Gaethje seems like a solid dude who (likely not forever) has a good head on his shoulders. I love watching him celebrate his wins but watching his brain get mashed like my aunt’s guacamole raises some concerns for his longevity. Thankfully he has become much more technical and intelligent as of late. A recent name comes to mind as a victim of Gaethje.
“El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson. That guy just doesn’t quit, holy hell. Locked in arm bar, hyperextended, pulling on the tendons and ligaments, threatening tears, fractures, or a dislocation. Then in his very next fight, an Assyrian powerhouse latched onto his ankle and applied tremendous pressure to his knee. No tap. In my opinion, at his age these acts are impressive, but reckless. Tony’s career is likely nearing its end but there is no need to tear every ligament in your knee to prove that you’re tough. You are El Cucuy, The Boogeyman. We all know who you are, and we know what you are capable of. Take care of yourself, buddy.
These people are the toughest on the planet and sometimes need to be protected from themselves.
Lust: The Celebration
I was on the fence about this one. Whether Heath Herring knocking out Yoshihiro Nakao for giving him a little “just friends” smooch, or Joe Rogan doing his gosh darned best to keep his eyes off of Misha Tate disrobing. I have settled on Israel Adesanya. That was super funny when you humped Paulo Costa, but that only works for so long. Sooner or later you’ll go the way of old Joe Harding, cut down in his showboating prime with a foot to his face. Getting knocked out is bad, but when it comes after something like that, it is delicious for us fans. Best of luck, Izzy.
Oddly enough, Adesanya was never fined for that blatantly hilarious gesture. But fighters don’t always get off that easy. AT UFC 205 in New York, Yoel Romero was suspended for two months after knocking out Chris Weidman with that flying knee that opened his head like a can of tomato soup. But he wasn’t suspended for what you’d expect, he was suspended for doing his weird goose step celebration around the perimeter of the octagon. Other fighters have walked the cage perimeter in the past with no issue. Conor McGregor for one, and most recently Charles Oliveira not only left the octagon, but he leapt into the crowd as well. Khabib did too… but it wasn’t so much a celebration… and he was definitely fined.
Keep the post fight antics to a minimum!
Gluttony: The Tipping Scale
Johny Hendricks. Truly a legend who missed out. His nickname Bigg Rigg was not a misnomer, dude was a powerhouse. 15-1 until his controversial split decision loss to GSP. Since that night he went 3-6, missing weight for three of those losses. He even tried moving up to 185lbs but once again he failed to perform. The penultimate fight of his career was a 188lb catchweight bout in which he took a foot to the dome and was finished early in round 2. If you’re having a hard time making weight Johny, just call Urijah Faber and ask for “The Snake”. He’ll help you with that weight loss. Making weight is a huge part of the fight game, if you can’t do it then move up or move out.
Envy: To Be Young Again
Not much to say about this one. Please, someone tell Chuck Liddell to hang them up for good because I’ve heard murmurs of him fighting Tito again. His fused vertebrae will shatter like my self esteem at the club if Tito punches him like he did last time. Listen, Chuck. You’ve made your mark, you’ve erected your monument. Don’t leave a demented corpse at its base because you envy the young. I mean… if you fight again, I’m going to watch it, but I won’t be happy about it.
Don’t envy the young, because you know where they’re headed. You just got there first.
These sins of fighting are fatal to a fighter’s career unless they are part of the lucky few who can do it right. There are those who have used these to achieve greatness, but many who have tried were quickly met with a torn contract and a faded limelight. If a fighter decides to walk into the dark side, they had better wait for the perfect opportunity or hope to have been born with the showmanship to get away with it.