Back at UFC 143, we watched Carlos Condit employ a tactical strategy based on lots of movement to defeat Nick Diaz. Then at UFC on FX 4, his teammate at the Greg Jackson camp, Clay Guida, took that strategy and injected a few canisters of nitrous oxide into it.
The big difference between the two is that Condit fought, Guida avoided. It’s no surprise that Condit won his fight, while Guida lost. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop the critics from bashing Jackson’s game planning as boring, decision-based fighting.
The only real question here is: Where’s the problem?
Was Condit supposed to stay trapped up against the cage and allow Diaz to unload on him? Was Guida supposed to go toe-to-toe with a much more polished, powerful striker?
Both would have been foolish to do so. However, one fought spectacularly while the other avoided spectacularly. There’s a huge difference.
Condit Fought Brilliantly
According to Fight Metric, Condit actually out-struck Diaz 151 to 105 in significant strikes, and 159 to 117 in total strikes. Diaz usually out-strikes opponents by huge margins. The fact that Condit was able to turn the tables on that is a testament to the wise game plan put together by his camp.
Diaz has become a fierce volume striker who likes to trap guys against the cage and unload on them. Any boxing coach in the world will tell you to circle out in that situation. That’s exactly what Condit did when he found himself against the cage. What’s wrong with that?
While Condit’s strategy was based on not allowing Diaz to trap him against the cage, he actually had the kickboxing skills to get the better of Diaz in the exchanges. His teammate did not enjoy such an advantage.
Guida Lacked the Skills to Implement the Game Plan
Guida’s move and move strategy was based on nothing more than necessity. He simply didn’t have the skills to contend with Maynard, who is a nightmarish match-up for him. He couldn’t take Maynard down, and he couldn’t strike with him, so he avoided the fight.
That certainly was not the game plan, though. Greg Jackson even spoke afterward of wanting Guida to engage more. Guida just couldn’t find a way to do that. He was outmatched.
Sure, both guys could have just rushed in there and got knocked out, and that would have pleased the blood-thirsty fans. But fighting isn’t just about bravado. It’s also about strategy, tactics, and brains. And that’s what the Jackson camp exemplifies.
Greg Jackson's Camp Unfairly Targeted
The criticism of “boring” game planning seems to only fall on Jackson fighters. Are there no other boring fighters in MMA? Have we not seen countless examples of wrestlers who lay-and-pray their way to decision victories?
Where was the criticism of the Blackzilians when Melvin Guillard coasted to a lackluster victory at UFC 148 because he was terrified of Fabricio Comoes’ ground game? When Jon Fitch lays and prays his way to victory, people disparage him, not American Kickboxing Academy.
Part of the unbalanced censure the Jackson camp receives is because they’re widely considered the top camp in MMA. When you’re on top of the world, people are always going to try and knock you down.
Jackson has many fighters under his flag. He has to tailor game plans around the particular skill set of each fighter.
This isn’t street fighting. If you want to see that, I’d highly recommend buying the Felony Fights DVD set. It’s quite entertaining, albeit a tad sloppy.
This is MMA, you know, professional martial arts fighting, where game plans and strategy are supposed to be appreciated just as much as blood-and-guts Colosseum fighting.
MMA in America is less than two decades old. I fear for the future of the sport if the fanbase is already tired of fighting and wants nothing but blood.