To Finish or Not To Finish: That Is The Question

Ken FossAnalyst ISeptember 1, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 29:  UFC fighter Nate Marquardt (L) knocks out UFC fighter Demian Maia (R) during their Middleweight bout at UFC 102:  Couture vs. Nogueira at the Rose Garden Arena on August 29, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

The more toward the mainstream we drift, the closer people examine the "brutality" of the sport; words like human cockfighting, and bloodsport are tossed around like grains of sand on a well populated beach.

While the majority of watchers cringe when they see Chris Leben get choked out cold, flailing uncontrollably, or see a totally clueless Damien Maia sit up with his eyes in the back of his head, it's important to remember in the sport's short history, it has a spotless safety record.

Our only attributable death is credited to the barbaric Tough Man series, and the only case of life altering injury I can find is a young prospect whose head was trapped during a takedown.

It can be reasonably argued MMA is the safest professional contact sport currently played in North America. To see what I mean look up heat stroke studies for Football and Soccer, the majority of those people who have died are children.

What we battle isn't facts, we have those on our side—What we battle is our past, and the all important first impression.

Chris Leben wasn't worried about his life when he woke up, he was worried about the mistakes that he made that could have ended his UFC career.

When we show someone a clip of Cyborg vs. Carano, they don't understand what intelligent defense is, they don't understand that boxing deaths are almost entirely attributed to SCI's (Second Concussive Injuries) all they can make heads or tails of is the impact of the punches as they fall.

They don't understand that the most brutal thing you can do is stop the fight for 10 seconds (just enough time to pull your senses together long enough to fool the ref) and restart the fight with a shark of an opponent waiting to take his/her head off again, and again, and again: That's truly brutal.

The cure is education, and time. Not censorship...

Which brings us to Maia vs. Marquardt.

It's inarguable that Damien Maia could not intelligently defend himself after the vicious right hook he landed in hindsight.

Live all I saw was Maia rolling to pull guard, Nate Marquardt wouldn't have known. He was half way to his corner, by the time the fight was stopped.

Some hail this as a step forward in MMA's growth, because it shows sportsmanship. While sportsmanship is essential to the growth of mixed martial arts, (see Sell vs. Smith, or Varner vs. Cerrone) it has almost no place in this discussion.

This was just a fighter holding back, either in arrogance of his own punching power, or more likely circuming to the fallout of Henderson vs. Bisping mere weeks ago.

In that fight, Dan Henderson dropped a diving forearm to an obviously unconscious Bisping. In the post fight he called the punch "payback" and it set off a firestorm of media distaste.

Dan Henderson did nothing illegal that night.

In football your told to play through the whistle. In this circumstance it makes perfect sense. What happens if Maia wasn't out? And as Marquardt stands over him he gets subbed via kneebar...

How much of a sport are you then?

In this sport its been proven up to this point a few extra punches to a downed opponent isn't going to damage a fighter, in any way other than superficially.

What you could really be doing is allowing your opponent time to recover.

So why take the risk?