Last night at UFC 111, Georges St. Pierre dominated a helpless Dan Hardy for five rounds. It was thorough, tactical, and complete. However, it's been panned as positional dominance and nothing more. Comparisons to Jon Fitch and Antonio McKee floundered across the Internet, and the “fan” exodus started in the third round.
While I'll agree that the performance lacked the finality that only a finish can provide, that shouldn't detract from dominance on the mat as wholesome as that of last night, and it sure as hell isn't even close to something that should be unanimously panned.
When watching a fight, a fan can only have one intrinsic expectation of the fighters in the cage: effort. By-and-large GSP held up his end of the bargain.
He improved his position 26 times in 25 minutes, threatened with six submission attempts, and took Hardy down 11 times. He was looking for armbars, chokes, Americanas, and Kimuras the whole fight long, even going as far as sacrificing position to look for a twister, and gave up side control to go for a kneebar twice!
Despite these facts, fans booed, hissed, and left, forcing the classy champion to beg for their forgiveness in his post-fight interview.
Fans like this disgust me. I can't hide it any longer and I'm sick of apologizing for them.
Ann Gaffigan—girlfriend of Jason High and co-founder of womentalksports.com—summed it up best on twitter: “I hate hearing "the fans weren't happy" with a fight. Become more educated fans of your sport and you won't be so disappointed all the time.”
These fans should go to a gym and find out how hard it is to sub someone who's stalling. They should learn how hard it is to pass someone's guard when all he wants to do is stall out. Now, they should try doing it 26 times in 25 minutes. Only then can I allow them to sully an exhibition of grappling superiority the likes we witnessed last night.
If anybody deserves ire, it's Dan Hardy, and all he did was his job. He battled and did everything he could to get the fight where he held the perceived advantage, and he never stopped trying.
He had plenty of opportunities to get out of that fight, to end the embarrassment, and make no mistake that's exactly what it was. But he refused to quit.
He hoped Georges would make a mistake in his desperation to satiate the crowd's lust for a finish, that ultimately never came, but he kept fighting all the way to the bell.
Joe Rogan touched on “the moment" during the 5th round, when you realize you lack the skills necessary to defeat the man your grappling with. He talked about how mentally you always have to believe you can finish, whatever you attempt, belief must be there.
Even with his gas tank hovering on E in that final round, Dan Hardy battled back to his feet looking for an audacious rolling kneebar, it was clear he didn't know how to finish. Being courageous is not easy, and it rarely pays off like it should. Nevertheless, I refuse to criticize it.
Frank Mir has talked about the furnace that the octagon represents to him many times in the past. It's a great quote because it's one of the few times you get to see Frank Mir without the trappings of his heel-like persona.
If he's right, and I believe he is, then Dan Hardy may have left that octagonal cage with an L on his record and the shame of dominance on his ego. However, he was never broken by it. His soul passed through the furnace that was GSP, and we all got to see what it was made of.
Well, the few of us who had the decency to stick around, anyway.