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Old 05-05-2008, 03:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What Fighters owe us!

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Kalib Starnes display of cardiovascular superiority over Nate Quarry the weekend of April 19 continues to incite thoughtful and deliberately worded discussion online, much of it explicit on how Starnes should either grow genitalia or find a new profession.

In a message board post alleged to be from Starnes himself -- but just as easily authored by the Cheetos-encrusted fingers of a duplicitous 15-year-old -- the fighter expressed incredulity that fans would question his judgment. He'd be the one getting knocked out, after all, not the beer-burping spectators.

Starnes (or the faux Starnes) has a point. The mob mentality in arenas and online tends to erase sympathy for athletes. They're expected to be something other than human, willing to absorb massive amounts of cranial trauma for the hooting satisfaction of ticketholders who mewl when they get a splinter.

If something as offensive as "strategy" rears its boring head, or if a fighter is seen as reluctant to fight, his flesh will practically sear with the brand of a coward. Audiences are certainly more tolerant of complex submission wrestling and methodical striking than they were 15 years ago, but there's still precious little tolerance for the oxymoronic display of an apprehensive fighter.

Did Starnes "owe" spectators a willingness to engage against Quarry even though he suspected he'd be concussed? Isn't that a masochistic attitude to take? Don't they put people on medication for that type of behavior?

"Yes" to all of the above. Welcome to the cranially irresponsible world of prizefighting.

There is a tacit agreement every combat athlete makes when he commits to a fight -- that he'll do his very best to win the bout. That doesn't preclude them from defending themselves, but it does mean that one can't assume the disposition of a drugged puppy simply because some hurt is coming their way.

Consider Tito Ortiz (Pictures), a fighter whose persona has generally grated this particular member of the audience. Facing Chuck Liddell (Pictures) in 2004, Ortiz's prior training sessions with his opponent had congealed on his brain. From reports, he was unable to ever take Liddell down and was batted about like a tethered balloon standing.

Despite overwhelming evidence that he wouldn't be able to exchange successfully with Liddell, Ortiz gamely trudged forward, doing his best to evade damage while meting out his own. It didn't work -- Ortiz was struck down early in the second -- but he tried. He gave effort. He fought. Didn't shy away from Liddell the second time, either, even after he had tasted his own blood.

Nobody wins a fight going backwards. And if victory is the ultimate endgame, whatever a fighter does and however he does it should be predicated on putting one foot in front of the other. It might leave a cut, a bruise or a slightly engorged brain. Damage is the currency of combat.

There is a point where a motivated performance gives way to manic, misplaced courage. The Japanese fighters are famous for engaging against warhorses that -- because of size or skill -- could easily turn them into premature assisted care residents. Other fighters are obstinate in playing to their opponents' strengths to prove they have what it takes. Not healthy.

Show up, be in shape, try your best without taking foolish chances: not complicated arithmetic.

There are athletes who make genuine sprints for the win, lose and then summarily submerge themselves in self-delusional rationalization. Maybe it's a protective mechanism. The "other guy" wasn't victorious because he was better but because the loser had a bum knee, a sick dog or a soggy newspaper.

The problem with these claims is that they ignore the victories gathered over men who could (and often do) make similar excuses. If you accept a win without an asterisk, you should be prepared to accept a loss as well.

Show up, be in shape, try your best and don't try to qualify the outcome. Still not an unreasonable equation.

It's not a one-way transaction. While many fans feel entitled to voice derogatory opinions because they paid for a ticket or a pay-per-view signal, we owe athletes the benefit of the doubt. Despite the fact that thousands of fights are on tape, and it seems as though every conceivable outcome can be anticipated, it's still no ocean stroll to climb into a chain-link fence and play whack-a-mole with five-ounce gloves.

I don't blame Starnes for avoiding punishment, natural biochemical response that it is. But fighting is supposed to hurt. And if you can't wade in with a resolve to win, even in the face of slight odds, you probably need to be doing something more forgiving.

Smoke jumper, maybe.
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's probably one of the most well-written mma articles I've ever read. What's it from?

I pretty much agree with everything he said with few minimal discrepancies.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thumper75 has a little shameless behaviour in the past
No doubt, the author actually used entertaining and intelligent diatribe kinda rare for the casual MMA writer.
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Old 05-06-2008, 05:00 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Big article, didn't read, though liked the 'cheeto encrusted fingers'.
We pay fighters, they do a bad job, they get less money or none. Thats it.
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Old 05-06-2008, 09:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have one problem with the article, he is pretty much excusing Starnes for an awful fight. I hate when you complain about a boring fight and people say "did you just want him to stand there and get his head beat in" hell no. I want you to fight back. Show some offense. If you dont want to fight then dont take the fight, dont step in the cage. Fighters dont owe fans anything in terms of trying to be exciting, although I greatly appreciate it but you cannot do what Starnes did and run the whole fight. Quarry is a decent fighter but he is not the beast that Starnes was making him out to be, and even if he is then he could have at least thrown some punches when Quarry was retard punching at him or whatever, he was still running. I have seen fights where guys like Machida avoid getting hit but still are there to fight. Starnes didnt show up, now everyone hates him and he is out of the UFC. That simple. If Starnes doesnt owe it to the fans, then he should at least owe it to himself to try and win the fight.
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