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By: Jason Amadi, MMATorch Columnist
Joseph writes: I had a question. I have been watching MMA for about ten years now and have seen some really great fights and some real lackluster ones as well. My question is... can some of the lackluster fights be attributed to the fact that fighters are straying away from the love of the sport and are in it for just the money? We have read a lot recently where fighters say "if the money is right" instead of "I want to be the best" like Forrest Griffin and Rampage Jackson.
Also, I particularly liked the Rashad/Davis fight. That was MMA wrestling at its finest.
A: First of all, it's important to remember that mixed martial artists are prizefighters; they all fight for money. Sure, there are people who would legitimately fight for free, but how many of those people would consistently go through the grind of training camps and cut weight just for kicks? Not many.
The fact is, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Forrest Griffin have both had long careers and are now looking at life post-MMA, as they should be.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was a superstar in Japan, came to the United States, became a superstar here and captured a UFC Championship. He's made plenty of money fighting in the UFC and has gotten to a point where he can parlay his fighting fame into an acting career. At his age and with everything he's done in the sport, it makes perfect sense that he'd be thinking about having a few more big money fights and then cashing out.
As for Forrest Griffin, this is a guy who not only held a UFC Championship, but took part in the most important fight in the company's history. At this point in his career, what is he supposed to do that's going to top any of that?
Speaking to the first part of your question in a broader sense, when fighters no longer have title aspirations, the only real incentive left is financial. Whether or not that definitively leads to worse performances, no one can ever really say for sure. In the case of the aforementioned light heavyweights, their best days are behind them. Perhaps Josh Kosheck will be the most fitting test case moving forward, considering the fact that he seems intent on staying at 170 pounds and has likely maxed out his opportunities as Georges St-Pierre.
As far as Evans-Davis being MMA wrestling at its finest, I respectfully disagree. I just feel like Phil Davis is far too green to showcase any aspect of mixed martial arts at its finest. The only way that Rashad Evans was going to consistently take him down was by catching his kicks, and when that became apparent in the fight, Davis never adjusted. He simply didn't have the hand speed or overall boxing game to exchange punches with Rashad Evans and he couldn't set up effective takedowns without those punches. Evans completely neutralized his striking, got takedowns when available and used his jiu jitsu game to further expose him.
If you really want to see MMA wrestling at its finest, check out the 2-3 knee tap of Davis' teammate, UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz.
Another Joseph writes: Recently, all discussion relating to the top "pound for pound" fighters seems to revolve around three people; Jon "Bones" Jones, GSP and Anderson Silva. However most of these debates center on these three fighter's contention for the number two and three slots respectively, none of the articles weighing in on this debate, particularly on your own site seem to make any mention of who is considered the number one pound for pound fighter. Perhaps you could offer some clarity on this.
Secondly, while I understand how reach is measured in boxing I fail to understand why people believe that this is a statistic which has, especially in the MMA world, any impact on a fight. So do you believe that a fighter's reach has any real impact on their performance when the whole point of MMA is that the fighters have many options at many different ranges and positions? If so then why do you believe that reach is a major factor?
A: I can't speak for the entire MMATorch staff, but as far as I'm concerned there is no debate; Anderson Silva is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world right now, without argument. That's probably why you don't hear too much chatter about the #1 spot any more. Anderson Silva simply holds too many UFC records, has beaten too many top 10 opponents and has been so dominant for so long, that there isn't any way to construct an argument against his being the top fighter in the world without bias.
As far as reach goes, you can easily make the argument that it's even more important in MMA than in boxing. First of all, people box in MMA, so obviously reach plays a role there. However, the length of a person's arms also plays a role on the ground, in the clinch, and when it comes to submissions.
If you go back and watch the first round of Anderson Silva's bout with Yushin Okami last August, you'll see him throw really wild overhand punches that seem unfitting for such a technical striker. But what he was actually doing was gauging the distance and studying the reactions of his opponent. He's able to throw punches like those without reprisal because his opponent is at a distance where they can't attack him.
It often goes unnoticed, but UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre also usually enjoys a considerable reach advantage over most of his opponents.
Obviously, if we're talking about reach in mixed martial arts, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones deserves mention. During his UFC run thus far, Jones has been able to secure chokes on Jake O'Brien, Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida from unorthodox positions due to his ability to change up grips and create leverage.
Fighters like Jones, with particularly long arms are also able to rain down elbows and finish fights from inside the guard.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @JasonAmadi and direct your "Ask the Torch" questions to email@example.com
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