We often hear the praise of natural athletes and dynamic personalities in MMA, but how often do we give credit to the grinding competitors that just won’t say die?
UFC 117 put this issue front and center for fans with several fighters who may lack natural ability but who make up for it in droves with heart and tenacity.
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida seems to find himself across the cage from men who always seem to have more skills and natural ability, but Guida never ceases to wear a smile on his face.
UFC 117 saw Guida facing tough Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos. Dos Anjos put a hurting on Guida early with vicious Muay Thai knees, kicks and elbow strikes.
But with Guida's famous gas tank and determination he rallied back in rounds two and three for a win via stoppage after damaging his opponent's jaw.
Guida has re-invented himself under the tutelage of Greg Jackson and seems to be gaining confidence and momentum. With the right coach behind him the limits for Clay are endless.
Guida likes to grind out wins with heart, gas, and perseverance; if he continues on this path, the possibilities are endless for him.
The welterweight bout of the night was also a grinding struggle for dominance. Finally two of the top fighters of the division squared off when Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch met for the second time.
In Fitch’s signature style he pushed and tested his opponent always trying to break the will of whoever is standing in his way. Fitch dragged and slammed Alves to the ground several times and controlled every second of the bout.
Fitch has never been known as a natural born fighter or someone with the speed or athletic ability to dominate his opponent.
Fitch has relied more on his wrestling prowess as well as his tireless work ethic to win the fights for him.
With this bout under his belt, Fitch has been promised a title bout with the winner of the GSP vs. Koscheck bout. If Fitch continues, with his work he will once again challenge for championship gold.
But for UFC 117, the middleweight title fight stole the show. Chael Sonnen did more talking for this fight than any other fighter has to promote a fight.
But Sonnen’s actions spoke even louder than his words. Sonnen made true on his claims to push Silva for the entire length of the fight.
Chael is the first fighter in many years to make Anderson Silva look human. Sonnen was not afraid to engage on his feet but really shined with take downs and slamming fists down into Silva’s face.
Sonnen pushed hard for five rounds but was sadly caught in a triangle choke late in the final round. Sonnen put up a valiant effort and simply would not stop or quit for anything.
Chael does have the heart of a champion and may soon get the chance to prove it again.
UFC 117 was an eye-opening experience that a lack of muscles, speed, or a complete toolset does not mean that you will lose the bout.
If a fighter possesses heart, determination and sheer will to win they can be key components to victory. Skills can be learned and sharpened but there are some qualities that cannot be taught and are only earned through hard work.