Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Diaz vs. Condit: Better Late Than Never
In the "now, now, NOW!" news era of 2012, stories are like Lance Armstrong's steroid supply: they cycle fast. In MMA, something controversial happens, and within 20 minutes of it happening, there are already 358,499 people that have posted things about it, almost always without thinking about what they're saying, because that's not enough time to think. Certain stories I like to settle into my brain as concrete ideas before I shoot off at the mouth and make an ass of myself (which has definitely happened before).
I'd like to touch on what transpired at UFC 143, undoubtedly one of the most head scratching cards in recent memory. I could (and frankly, might) go Tolstoy about everything weird, hypocritical and ludicrous about 143, but for now, I'd like to focus on the idea of winning fights by "going forward" and "walking someone down."
Nick Diaz dropped a unanimous decision to Carlos Condit in their interim title bout, with judges scorecards of 48-47, 49-46, and 49-46. Afterwards, he lamented that he thought he clearly won, because he felt that he not only landed more shots, but that he "walked him down the whole fight." At first, I thought this was just typical Diaz aloofness. In his mind, Carlos Condit had acted cowardly by moving away and "throwing baby leg kicks."
This argument picked up steam, though. I heard enough whiny nonsense about the fight ("It was nothin' but a track meet!") that I had to debunk it before this emotionally misdirected garbage gained enough notoriety to be accepted as fact.
I call it "emotionally misdirected" because Condit outlanded Diaz by a significant margin. While it's true that many of those strikes were not thrown to killshot Nick Diaz, it's just as true that many of them were. The irony is that, statistically, it wasn't all that different from watching a vintage Diaz win; lots of strikes landed by both men, but one pulling ahead due to sheer volume. The only difference could be found in the direction the winners feet were moving.
It's the last point that makes me want to start pummeling myself like Edward Norton in Fight Club. The idea that in a competitive fight, all you have to do is identify who moved forward more and "Bammo! There's your winner!" is nothing short of absurd. Imagine if Muhammad Ali was judged this way.
I'll grant that, in a fight where the stand up offense is so closely contested that people throw up their hands and honestly can't figure out who won, it's relevant to think about who moved forward more. But it's not the ONLY thing that's relevant, and that's where the argument is promptly derailed.
As we all know, the whining didn't end there. Carlos Condit allegedly went from being a dangerous knockout artist to a spineless pansy because he didn't accept a Diaz lambasting like so many before him. To hear people complain about this fight, you'd think that Carlos Condit was doing a Road Runner impersonation for 5 rounds, making a gargantuan effort to avoid any kind of offense. In reality, he landed offense for most of the fight, and when Diaz would plod forward and start going Rock 'em Sock 'em, Condit would take an angle and return to the center of the cage. How could he be hated on for doing this? Doesn't Diaz deserve more criticism for not cutting the ring off and showing an inability to make even the most scant of adjustments until it was too late? I don't get it.
He's hated on because this was a fight that had lofty aspirations, and since many biased fans felt that it didn't live up to them, then it must somehow be someone's fault.
Was this the Hagler-Hearns barnburner that many thought it would be? No. But it was also nowhere near the "OK, seriously, is Kalib Starnes throwing this fight?" abyss that you would have thought it was if your only knowledge of the fight was what you read on the message boards. Anyone who argues otherwise should just go ahead and molliwhop the nearest HD TV until it breaks, because they only have (bloodshot) eyes for Nick Diaz.