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Decisions as a gameplan

Rami Genauer, he of Fightmetric fame, comes out with a very interesting narrative from the Bisping / Leben fight. A lot of people did a double take when Bisping said his plan was to beat Leben via decision. Most said he wouldn’t win many fans with that attitude, and that was that. But check out Rami’s thoughts, which are especially surprising since they come from someone who’s bread and butter is made up of breaking down fights that go to decisions:

MMA fans should be extremely concerned with Michael Bisping’s post-fight comments. Bisping said, in no uncertain terms, that his strategy was to come out and win a decision against Leben. Make no mistake; this statement is as dangerous for the sport as any comment made by Seth Petruzelli. The day that fighters start aiming for decisions is the day that MMA is finished as a serious sport.

Of course, it’s possible that a fighter aiming for a decision will still end his fight, but in most cases, trying for a decision is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When a fighter tries for a decision, his entire strategy and fighting method must change. He is no longer trying to win, he is simply trying not to lose while still performing in a way that will make the judges think that his performance was superior, however tenuous the evidence may be. This favors a cautious style, like the “lay and pray” method, although fans are quickly recognizing the “backpedal and counter-strike” technique as an equal evil.

The current percentage of MMA fights that go to a decision is 23%. You don’t have to be a mathematician to recognize that there’s an inverse proportion between fans and decisions: The more that percentage goes up, the more fans will abandon the sport. And really, who could blame them?

I was pretty suspicious of FightMetric and other stat counters when they first started popping up in MMA. As far as I’m concerned, the sport of MMA will die a dreary death if you ever put stats into the hands of ringside judges. So it’s definitely nice to hear someone who’s made stats their passion in MMA agree that fighters vying for decision wins is a bad trend and by extension the ‘hit and run’ strategy is bad news for the sport.