Nice guys finish last.
That is a line everyone has heard before and some take to heart. The second UFC on FOX card took that sentence to a new level.
Every single "nice guy" on the card was defeated.
Demian Maia, who is seen as a gentleman for the sport, was beaten, and Phil Davis, who is a charismatic young man, was taken out.
In a battle that didn't really have any "nice guys" in it, Chael Sonnen was able to beat Michael Bisping. It is a matter of preference on who fans might find as the more palatable of the two fighters, but it seems Sonnen has the market cornered on being a "jerk."
That doesn't mean that Chris Weidman, who beat Maia, is a bad guy and it doesn't mean that Chael Sonnen is among the most beloved men in MMA, but both men are not viewed as positively as their opponents are.
So why do many of the "nice guys" in MMA finish last?
Because, simply put, they do what decent people do. They accept the blame for their losses or shortcomings.
On the surface, Chael Sonnen, Rashad Evans and Chris Weidman look like they have nothing in common. Weidman is a no-name and is undefeated while Sonnen and Evans have losses on their records but talk like they don't.
And that is where things start to align.
Weidman has the confidence of a man who has never lost while Sonnen and Evans have the confidence of men who have found ways to attribute their losses to something other then themselves.
Sonnen doesn't focus on his loss to Anderson Silva. He focuses on the four-and-a-half rounds he beat on him. Had he been a more humble fighter, he would have acknowledged the loss and that might have been the last we saw of Sonnen as a dominant fighter.
Instead, he continued to talk, and the second he got in the cage he showed off how impressive he could be. He proved that the fight against Silva wasn't a fluke.
He needed to believe that he was the better fighter and he just got caught. A "nice guy" would have admitted he just couldn't beat Silva, but Sonnen isn't that kind of competitor.
Maia, who has also faced Silva, has lost a lot of his edge in the cage. He now swaps wins and losses and has gone the distance in each outing. He is a polite martial artist and seems to be the type who would be willing to look himself in the eye and admit that he failed.
But that is death to a fighter. They have to wake up everyday with the thought that they are king of the mountain and that they just had an off night. To admit that they could be less than that would be folly.
A fighter doesn't even need to have faced defeat for that weakness to anchor itself in him.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani, Davis admitted that he didn't feel he was on the same level as the top fighters in his weight class. It was a while ago and he gave excuses for why he didn't do as well, but it comes down to the fact that he admitted he felt he wasn't on the same level.
Evans has never felt that way and has wanted to fight for the belt for years now. He has held on to his No. 1 contender spot because he believes he can be the champion.
He disrespected Davis, acting like he wasn't on the same tier as the young wrestling phenom, and proved it on Saturday. Some of it had to do with skill and experience.
More than a bit might have had to do with confidence. Davis is willing to heap blame on himself while Evans is willing to shrug it off.
So is Chael Sonnen.
And so is Chris Weidman, though that may have more to do with his record then anything else.
These men won't come off as the classiest individuals in interviews, and they won't seem "nice" in press conferences. They will come off as pompous and arrogant.
But that attitude is what helps the fighters get through the rough spots in training camps, shrug off injuries and win fights—the belief that they are the best and that it is their circumstances that stop them getting there.
It may not be a selfless way of thinking, but it is effective.
And in MMA, that is what counts in the end.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com which focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film, and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.
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