File Photo: Sherdog.com
Reasons for my status as an editorial villain change weekly: the current rotation has me getting charred over brief comments in a WEC wrap-up that Saturday’s wood-chipper of a fight between Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung was either terrific or horrifying.
I hadn’t fully made up my mind at the time. Midweek, I’m starting to get some more perspective.
There is no question that Garcia/Jung was entertaining -- a total blast of adrenaline and guts, and the kind of wild back and forth athletes with too much money and too much celebrity are rarely eager to participate in. I’m hardly immune to the energy a fight like that provides, and I can appreciate the unselfish tenacity and level of personal risk involved. Garcia and Jung have my respect, for whatever that’s worth. (I’m sure the suspense was killing them both.)
But “great fight” has a very particular set of parameters. If that label is applied to the haymaking style of fighting, you don’t have many adjectives left to describe fights that marry terrific skill with terrific aggression and an emotional backbone. At least two of those criteria need to be met before anything “great” happens.
The best fights require craftsmanship: Garcia is full of heart, but the difference in his abilities and Anderson Silva’s are greater than I can calculate. They need an emotional underpinning: Royce Gracie/Kazushi Sakuraba had a snail’s pace at times, but the image of Gracie’s corner tossing a towel in the air after 90 minutes of struggle approaches art. If you can add momentum to the list, you have something special: Diego Sanchez’s fights with Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz were amazing displays of guys who wanted it, but didn’t grow reckless in the process.
If you want an analogy: “Crank” is an entertaining movie. It’s a good time. I wasn’t bored. It elevated my mood. But if it is a “great movie,” what’s left to describe “The Godfather”?
Garcia/Jung was a greatly entertaining fight. It was not a great fight. Save the label for special occasions.