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10 September 2010

Seems to be cool to talk about Wrestling and MMA

It would be absurd to argue that there is no place for wrestling in MMA. It is one of the core skills that all participants need to train. Whether it's Dan Hardy saying that lay-and-pray tactics(where a superior wrestler takes an opponent down and maintains control and prays that he/she gets the victory) or Nate Marquart saying that people just need to train harder in wrestling, no one is having the debate that needs to be had: should athletes be required to seek the finish, that is press with strikes or aggressive grappling on the feet, and/or improved position, submission attempts or significant strikes while on the ground? Should aggressiveness be mandated and enforced by refs and judges?

First we have to look at the rules as they exist. Click here for the copy of the New Jersey State Control Board  Mixed Martial Arts Unified Rules of Conduct that I am using.
Rule 13:46-24A.13 deals with judging criteria, and tries to objectively direct judges as much as possible. It clearly dictates that grappling must be scored based of effectiveness and aggressiveness, not one or the other but both. Take downs, reversals, positional improvements are all weighed.
Getting a take down and sitting in guard is not effective nor aggressive grappling. Holding someone in the clinch in a stalemate against the cage is neither aggressive nor effective. It's not that fans don't want to see grappling, it's that fans don't want to see athletes rewarded for stalemating in positions and acting passively.
Nik Lentz v. Andre Winner could have been a draw because Lentz's grappling was not effective, nor was he aggressive. The reason he was awarded the decision was positional control and his edge there was so slight that I do not feel it met the requirements of the current rules.
The same argument extends to fights like Anderson Silva v. Demian Maia; the last three rounds Anderson was comically passive, flagrantly so. Were I refereeing I would have given more stern and more often warnings and should his conduct continue I would have deducted points. Maia was coming forward slowly, Silva was moving backward constantly.  You can just be a better fighter, you have to fight a better fight.

So, as far as organizations go, cash bonus's and main card fights are the best means they can use to keep potentially boring fights off the screen. If you have a fighter who wins every fight you give him, but looks awful doing it, then you bury him and whoever is unlucky enough to take that fight. "Too bad John Fitch, but we won't put you on TV until you at least make it look like finishing is on the menu." 
As far as judges go, recognize stalemates as draws instead of 'positional control', and feel free to give out 10-10, 10-8 and 10-7 rounds. Don't be afraid of a draw if that's what you're seeing.
And as far as fighters go, from bell to bell both fighters are constantly obligated to pursue the end of the fight. This is not new, these are the rules as they exist.

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