A Robbery In Vegas
The Vegas Screwjob?
I remarked to a co-worker, and fellow fan of the Mixed Martial Arts, that I thought Johny Hendricks was the toughest opponent Georges St. Pierre had faced in his career. I turned on ESPN's SportsCenter and found that St. Pierre had kept his title in a split decision.
The more I read, there seemed to be a sentiment that Hendricks had been robbed. One of my Twitter followers hinted that Hendricks had done everything but knock St. Pierre out. My response was that may have been what he needed to do.
In sports like Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts, there may be a "Champion's Advantage". Very rarely do you see a belt change hands on a decision. It can happen, but the challenger needs to completely outclass the champion. Hendricks may have done this.
The 4th Judge
The judges that sit at ringside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship are to judge the fight based on 4 critera; effective striking, grappling, aggression, and control of the octagon-shaped ring. I am adding a 5th criteria, defense.
I did take an opportunity to view the entire card, with special focus on the main event. Looking at the fight through these criteria, Hendricks should probably be the 170 pound champion.
The first criteria usually mentioned in judging a MMA fight is effective striking. The ads leading up to the card put a lot of focus on Hendricks's "one-punch" power.
While Hendricks was not able to deliver that knockout blow, his strikes seemed to be doing more damage. In the 2nd round, St. Pierre was wobbled, and later on a series of elbow strikes from Hendricks left St. Pierre with cuts under both his eyes.
On this basis, I give Hendricks the advantage in striking.
While the focus was on Hendricks punching power. I found out that he, like many stars of the MMA, was an accomplished wrestler.
While this fight was mostly fought standing up, Hendricks was able to take down St. Pierre and looked very effective on the ground; another nod to Hendricks.
Aggression and Control.
As the challenger, Hendricks realized that he would need to take the fight to St. Pierre. Throughout the fight, he did this. He clearly pushed the tempo, stood tall and managed to control the 8-sided ring against an opponent known for being able to impose his will.
Two more points to Hendricks.
It has many variations; "Drive for show and putt for dough" in golf, "Make your spares and the strikes will take care of themselves" for a bowler, and "Offense sells tickets, defense wins titles".
The last statement may also apply in the MMA, and whether it was counterpunching or escaping Hendricks, to me, won this category as well.
A Honorable Surrender
By my analysis, Hendricks should be the new champion. He is not, and may be unable to get his rematch until May, a report in Yahoo Sports indicates that a bad knee may keep him out of competition. A doctor can clear him, but he is not permitted to engage in contact training until December 8.
St. Pierre, after the fight, hinted he needs to take some time off. This after comments that sounded like he was retiring then and there. If he plans to retire, he should end the speculation and say so.
If he just want to take time off, in my opinion, he should surrender the belt. A 4-8 person would provide a great opportunity for fighters like Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz, or Robbie Lawler to showcase their skills.