Houston, We Have a Problem...

Monty HeldtContributor IDecember 7, 2009

Houston, if you don't mind me asking:  What in the hell was that?

I mean, you did know that Dana hired you for that particular match, because a well known fact about you, is that you never back down from a fight??  In fact, I dare say, a case could be made that in some matches, you actually press the fight off the hop way too much.  Or at least, the man formerly known as Houston Alexander "used" to.

This fight was proof to me of a couple of things. 

1)  In the NHL, as an example, the injury report on a player reads "upper body injury", and no exact time of return is stated.  Why?  Because today's player, will read the injury report, and target that area, sometimes even ahead of grabbing the puck, and trying to score.  Houston, obviously, was informed that Kimbo was having knee problems, and did not want to get a cortisone shot, surgery, or cartilage emulation injections.  He came to the fight, looking to leg kick his way to a win.  Showing your opponent exactly where you injuries are, how severe they are, and how you are treating them, is a bad idea, in the age of TV, and the Internet.  Kimbo all but showed Houston and his coaches the best way to come after him.  Kimbo also will now also see a lot of leg kicks to that knee, as a result, during his tenure with the UFC, and possibly beyond.  His ground game is not the only question mark, and we have learned it due to the exposure Kimbo received on The Ultimate Fighter.

2)  In The NFL, the coordinators, and Head Coaches at times, use brilliant strategy to try to get wins.  As an example, down by 14 with 10 minutes to play, needing to convert a fourth and 9, an NFL coach yesterday, sends in a quick slant play, that even if executed to perfection, would net approximately three yards, max.  My question to the coaches, is this: Why not go for enough yards to get a first down, and if you miss, you miss.  What point is it to try going for 3, when you need 9?  Brilliant planning indeed.  Perhaps there is a reason why these coaches are usually down by 14 with 10 minutes to play.  In the NFL, the quarterbacks used to go into the game, call the plays that were needed, and try to win the game.  The coaches had input, but the players determined the course of action.

In fighting, the fighters are supposed to feel each other out, study game film, and determine a strategy.  Sometimes it changes during a match, sometimes there isn't one.  But the fighter decides how he is going to try to win.

My point here, is that we are entering the age of game plan heavy, MMA.  The Alexander camp, sat Houston down, and had him train to leg kick, and move.  "Stay away from a fracas with Kimbo" as it were.  I have convinced myself, that at some point and time, Houston would have asked one of these meat heads, "Why don't I just knock him out in the first twenty seconds?"

However, I personally am wondering why they went this way?  If Seth Petruzelli could knock Kimbo down, then, could not the Nebraskan Assassin?  Some genius, gets Houston, a terror for the first two minutes of any match, to back out, and try to leg kick his way to victory.  The same Alexander, I might add, that walked to the middle of the ring, and re-tuned Keith Jardine to a new frequency in about 25 seconds.  The guy has, if nothing else, dynamite in both hands, and knees, early in a fight.

Who thought of this?  Why would you have him fight in this over cautious way?  Finally, and most importantly, you do know as the game plan master, that he was hired as an opponent in this specific match, because of his penchance for standing, and banging??  In all honesty, I am not sure he couldn't have won, running out into the middle of the cage, grabbing Kimbo in a Muay Thai clinch, and pumping him until it was over.  Houston "was" overwhelming off the start at times, and Kimbo is untested, against a striker of this calibre, and on a stage of this magnitude.

But this, well, to sum it up, was like watching watered down crap.  I am sorry Houston, but I just do not think you should, nor do I want to see you fight that way, against "ANY" Fighter.  It doesn't suit your style, your name, your past, or you.  Period.  What an utter disappointment.  More so, this is becoming more common in The UFC.   

Engaging three times a round, winning two of the exchanges, and moving away from the action, for the rest of the round, in attempt to win the round.  I think I would rename it the "chuck and duck", and it makes the "lay and pray" look like a match of the year.   With any loss in the UFC coming at such a high premium, these guys are scared to lose.  I would say that Houston was fighting Kimbo, "not to lose", rather than kicking the hell out of him, and trying to win. 

And to any fighter that thinks it is ok, to walk around for almost an entire round, without engaging at all, in an attempt to stretch cardio bases, etc, I would say this.  You are insulting the very essence of fighting, from the annals of history, in several cultures, to what it is today.  You are also insulting guys like me, who cover your salary in PPV buy rates, seats, and merch.  This is game plan heavy nonsense, and while it may very well sound as good as a screen pass, on 4th and 25, to catch your opponent off guard, there is little, if any room for it in mma.  This sport is still crawling out of the darkness, and into some level of Mainstream Credibility.  Lets not play "the trap" here.  Lets, at the very least, keep it entertaining.  See Kalib Starnes, and Thales Leites for information on how the UFC deals with this strategy.  Yes, BTW, I think a yellow card system Ala "Pride", might be a good thing, if nothing else, to have in the refs back pocket.  Remember, when you are planning this, that the people in the crowd, and watching on TV, pay money to watch you.

I have said this before.  I watch to see a fight.  I dont mind if my guys lose.  I do mind when they lose because they received poor advice on how to proceed.  The fact that it almost worked, hurts too.  It lends further credence to this nonsense.

Houston, the losses you had in the UFC, previous to this fight, is why they wanted you for this fight.  It used to be that you were well known for going guns off the hop, and actually threatening to win every fight in under 2 minutes.  You have always been, an entertaining fighter to watch, win or lose.  This, BTW, is not me asking you to walk in with your hands at your waist, and get ko'ed either.  I am saying, that Saturday night barely represented a fight.

However, I will always be critical of a sport that charges 3500 dollars for a ringside seat, and then offers one of the combatants moving away from any sort of engagement, for the first three minutes of the fight.  The best was seeing Kimbo visibly asking Houston if he was going to fight, or not.  Did anybody predict that Houston would have to be coaxed into fighting?  Again, it was a free card, but this is not the way on to the next ppv.

Not Cool, Alexander.  It was the equivalent of a Gladiator hiding under his sheild in the corner, so as not to have to fight.  A shame, Sir.  I expected a lot more from you.

I however, think that you have fought your last fight in the UFC.  You can thank the guys who helped you with your game plan for that.