This past Saturday night at a UFC event in Brisbane, Australia, viewers were treated — appropriately enough, in the main and co-main events of the evening — to the extreme ends of compassion and sadism inherent in the sport of mixed martial arts.
In the co-main, rising welterweight Neil Magny survived a first-round beatdown at the hands of power-punching judoka Hector Lombard to rally in the second and third rounds, eventually stopping him with ground strikes. And if that were all there was to the story, we’d be focusing on Magny’s unbreakable will and resolve. Instead, we’re focusing on the fact that the referee allowed the fight to go on after Lombard clearly ceased to intelligently defend himself midway through the second round. Magny landed a UFC record number of strikes to a grounded opponent — over 100 — in the second round alone, bouncing Lombard’s head between his fists like a cat with a glitter ball.
On the other end of the spectrum, the main event saw the inexplicably resurgent Mark Hunt knock out the equally, bafflingly still-relevant Frank Mir in less than 90 seconds. The finishes of both fights were violent in their own ways, but Hunt, after flooring Mir with a right cross, looked down, saw Mir conscious but clearly not all there and simply walked away. The referee waved it off, and Mir offered no protest.
And while it would be fun to write about untoward beatings — I’ve got so many violence-related adjectives stored up — I’d rather throw a spotlight on the few occasions when fighters actually displayed the wherewithal and compassion to realize a fight was over, even before the referee.
- Mark Hunt KOs Chris Tuscherer (UFC 127)
Chris Tuscherer is such a footnote in UFC history that I’m not even going to bother checking to see if I spelled his name right. His call-up was almost entirely due to the fact that he was Brock Lesnar’s training partner, and not due to any sort of special talent.
He was big, even for heavyweight, and strong as a bull, sure, but was unfailingly dull in the ring. He defeated fellow also-ran Tim Hague by majority decision in a “fight” that resembled two elephant seals drunkenly playing Dungeons and Dragons, but that victory was sandwiched between two quick KO losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Brendan Schaub.
Interestingly, at this point in his career, Hunt was the underdog. He was on a six-fight losing streak, and had contemplated calling it a career. But he found some renewed focus, pushed himself in training, and came into the fight in the best shape of his life. He shrugged off Tuschererrrrrr’s takedown attempts, then uncorked a nuke of a right uppercut that caught Trrshchrrrse on the point of the jaw and slept him instantly. Hunt, less than two seconds after landing the punch, casually strolled away from the damage like he was walking out of a Starbucks.
- Josh Burkman submits Jon Fitch (World Series of Fighting 3)
Josh Burkman has had quite a journeyman’s career. After coming up through the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” he made his bones as a tough-as-nails, just-short-of-elite opponent, and a tough out for any fighter. After a lengthy UFC run, he was released and eventually landed in the upstart World Series of Fighting.
Jon Fitch was making his WSOF debut after dropping two straight fights — the first time in his career — to Demian Maia and Johny Hendricks, the latter by 11-second KO, in the UFC. Despite being released by the UFC, he was still thought of by many as an elite fighter, and Burkman was widely regarded as a formality on the way to a Fitch title reign in WSOF.
Barely 30 seconds into the fight, Fitch dove for a takedown. Burkman sprawled, then locked in a standing guillotine choke on the former title challenger. Fitch had been in these spots before and was notorious for fighting his way out of seemingly inescapable submissions, so most in attendance waited patiently for him to pop his head out.
Instead, he went limp and, before the referee could even notice, Burkman released his grip, dropping an unconscious Fitch face-down to the mat, then walked away with his arms spread in a pose that combined “I Believe I Can Fly,” “With Arms Wide Open” and “I’m the king of the world!”
- Anderson Silva KOs Forrest Griffin (UFC 101)
Though the current state of his career is a series of increasingly depressing punch-lines and exasperated guffaws, Anderson Silva will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time, and probably the greatest middleweight of all time. This fight encapsulates every reason why.
Griffin, for his part, was coming off of a title loss to Rashad Evans, but was still regarded as a top-flight opponent in the light-heavyweight division, and a stern test for Silva a full 20 pounds north of the middleweight champion’s natural fighting weight. Oh yeah, Silva took this fight at a higher weight, while he was still middleweight champion — for funsies.
The prevailing notion was that Griffin might be able to use his size and strength advantage to muscle Silva around against the cage. It never got that far. The fight resembled what might happen if a real-life Jedi fought a blind white belt.
Silva effortlessly slipped Griffin’s attacks, countering with sharp punches, dropping the former LHW champion. Eventually, Griffin because desperate enough to bum-rush Silva, sloppily winging punches, each one a Christmas gift to the all-time great. Silva calmly slipped the punches and — while moving backward — flicked out a right jab that caught Griffin flush and sent him to the mat, where he immediately began to make misshapen snow angels. Silva stood over him for a second, admiring the brain leakage he wrought, then danced merrily away.