Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez Was Not a Great MMA Fight
Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez fought a three-round instant classic at UFC 166 this past weekend.
In a fight that produced two knockdowns, countless flurries and copious amounts of blood, both men displayed indelible heart and courage.
Just to watch was to witness something special.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan called the fight the "new greatest fight of all-time" during the pay-per-view broadcast.
The MMA community exploded with youthful exuberance, smattering Twitter, Facebook and forums with every imaginable metaphor and hyperbole.
But now that the dust has settled, and we have had time to collect our thoughts from UFC 166, was "El Nino" vs. "The Dream" the greatest fight of all time?
Well, that all depends on what you consider a great fight.
Ask 10 people what makes a great fight, and you will get 10 different answers.
For some, the bout must occur in the UFC, or a title must be on the line, or history should be made.
But for all of the many stipulations, one constant seems apparent: Fans enjoy a wild back-and-forth war; technical talent be damned.
The bout between Melendez and Sanchez, while entertaining, displayed laughable, almost pathetic stand-up technique at points.
During exchanges on their feet, both men kept their heads still, balanced in a squat stance and threw looping hooks from their hips.
Is that really why we enjoy MMA though: To witness two men abandon technique and launch into a physical tornado of arms and legs?
Better question, is such a fight even a good representation of mixed martial arts?
To put it simply: No, it is not.
Yes, bouts like Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia I or Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua are entertaining. But where they succeed in violence, they lack in martial arts technique.
When anyone views a professional fight, they should expect elite talent and technical superiority, especially in the UFC.
Great MMA fights are a vivid depiction of two individuals with the highest level of ability squaring off for three to five rounds.
At any point during the bout, viewers should be able to witness premier head movement, arm placement, footwork, and punch and kick technique.
Recall for a moment, fights like Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis I or Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit. The bouts held all of the drama as Meledez and Sanchez, but on a far superior technical backdrop.
Between Henderson's takedowns or Pettis' hooks, St. Pierre's jab or Condit's kicks, there is an unmatched technical ability one should come to expect from elite MMA athletes.
So while most enjoyed the war between Melendez and Sanchez, we should reserve the title of "greatest MMA fight" for a bout that displays great MMA.
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