Adesanya’s “Boring” Fight, and Comically Bad Narratives
There have been a lot of bad takes in the 24 hours or so that have passed (as this was being written) since UFC 276. Most of those revolve around Pedro Munhoz “wanting out” of his fight with Sean O’Malley, and around Israel Adesanya’s performance against Jared Cannonier.
Let’s look at Izzy, because that fight carries with it a lot more relevance.
Was the fight a thriller? No. Was it boring? Only if you’re expecting something completely scripted. It was a defensive fight, with moments of offensive outbursts, including in the fifth. But let’s get to the bad takes first, shall we? Perhaps the best of the worst goes something like this: “Anderson Silva didn’t have boring fights.” That’s a direct quote from some rando on Twitter who clearly isn’t old enough to remember Silva’s fights with Thales Leites or Demian Maia, which were low-action according to Silva because he didn’t want to face fellow Brazilian fighters.
Yes, middleweight legend Silva had some dull fights. Current middleweight champ Israel Adesanya has had some dull fights. But the fight with Cannonier doesn’t come close to, say, Izzy vs. Yoel Romero, which amounted to a five-round staring contest. Against Cannonier, Adesanya fought a smart fight, and did what he needed to do to win against an opponent who a large chunk of fans and media members for some reason deemed a walk in the park. He wasn’t. If he was that easy, he’d have been staring up at the lights after a round.
Here’s another bad take: fans were right to be upset, because MMA is an entertainment sport, so fans must be entertained. Really? So if the the back-up shortstop for the Jays claims they’ll smoke the Red Sox next time they play, and it doesn’t happen, am I equally justified in my grievance? Or am I just too darn gullible for the non-scripted sporting world, and better off sticking to pro wrestling?
Which, by the way, is not to knock pro wrestling. Adesanya hit a grand slam with his Undertaker tribute, walking out to the dead man’s entrance music, complete with hat and urn. That, right there, tells you that Adesanya is an entertainer. He gets it. Just stop expecting wrestling-style finishes in the octagon. They’ll come, but at the highest level of the sport, often times it’s a game of inches.
To put it another way, it’s a chess match. And if chess just isn’t your thing — there’s always checkers, and there’s nothing wrong with preferring checkers.