The Fight Finder powers just about everything we do here at Sherdog.com.
From drafting news briefs on bout announcements to scouting candidates for “Prospect Watch,” it all points back to this gargantuan database of events and fighters. And yet, same as tangible utilities like electricity and water, it’s not something we discuss much; it’s just there. That’s why “The FF-Files” is here.
By way of introduction, I’m a weirdo who enjoys spending my free time adding results to the Fight Finder. I work for Sherdog, but my job mostly consists of editing copy and writing the occasional article. Like everyone who hammers away on the FF -- shout out to Robert Sargent, big up Alexandre Matos -- I do it as a volunteer. That means endless hours of watching fights and fielding requests from fighters, managers and promoters who want profiles changed and events updated. Many of these changes go unnoticed, or at least undiscussed, probably because there is no official place to ask or talk about them. The point of this new column is to help bring a little more clarity and transparency to the Fight Finder, and there’s an email address down at the bottom where I hope you’ll send your questions and suggestions.
If you Google “strangest Fight Finder results,” the first item that pops up is this forum thread from MixFight.nl. Two of the fights in this list of 15 bizarre finishes took place during the same event, World Vale Tudo Championship 3, on Jan. 19, 1997, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
While the show featured some undeniably odd outcomes, a lot of the strangeness here comes down to phrasing. The Fight Finder was launched in spring 2001, and just as MMA has evolved and been refined over the past decade-plus, so has the wording we use to describe fight results. As great as it is to see “Submission (Punishment)” on Pedro Rizzo’s record, the problem is that it doesn’t give any real detail as to how the bout ended, and that’s always the goal. After 13 years, this needed to be updated. And so, feeling a bit like a city employee tasked with whitewashing some long-standing graffiti, I sat down to clean up WVC 3.
Fight 1: Sidney Goncalves Freitas def. Zane Frazier via KO (Frazier hit Head on Floor Outside the Ring) R1 2:00
Alright, this one is mostly accurate. Frazier was lying in Freitas’ guard when “Mestre Hulk” decided to roll underneath the ring’s bottom rope, dumping Frazier on the ground outside. The fight ended there, as Frazier held his head and made googly eyes while the panicky ringside doctor molested his face. When it comes to “knockout” versus “technical knockout,” I prefer to err on the conservative side, and since there’s no real evidence that Frazier was out cold, this should go down as a TKO.
Fight 2: Mark Kerr def. Paul Varelans via TKO (Strikes) R1 2:06
One of the predominant finishing methods in older Fight Finder entries is “TKO (Strikes).” Again, the trouble here is that it doesn’t really tell us what happened -- although, in my experience, 85 percent of these TKOs were from punches. The term has been phased out over the past few years, largely thanks to the persistence of Sherdog’s own Jordan Breen, but it still turns up now and then. In this case, Kerr used punches to set up the finish, but the real fight-enders were the huge knees that gashed open Varelans’ face and made “The Polar Bear” go fetal.
Fight 3: Michael Pacholik def. Nobuhiro Tsurumaki via Submission (Punches) R1 1:25
Fight 6: Fabio Gurgel def. Michael Pacholik via Submission (Punches) R1 4:50
The way we deal with fighters tapping to punches was only finally settled upon a few months ago. “Submission (Punches)” is completely accurate; ideally, that’s the way it would be recorded. The issue is that the Fight Finder tallies it as a submission, creating a bit of a false statistic in the fighters’ overall records. It’s open to interpretation, but our consensus was that a submission to punches is closer to a TKO than it is to a “true” submission, so it doesn’t belong in the same stat with armbars and chokes. It looks strange at first, but “TKO (Submission to Punches)” was our solution.
Fight 4: Fabio Gurgel def. Patrick Smith via Submission (Fan Interference) R1 0:50
Sometimes fight-finding requires a little guesswork. Unlike the other results from this event, there’s no clear solution for this strange bout, which has been the subject of derision on Sherdog.net and other forums over the years. As Gurgel worked for a waist-lock takedown, Smith hooked his arm around a rope and drilled the Brazilian’s head with elbows, prompting a fan to charge the ring and attempt to untangle Smith’s arm. Video of the fight ends with the commentators declaring they “don’t know what happened,” but Smith’s body language definitely indicated that he wanted to stop after the interference. The closest common term for this is “TKO (Retirement),” which is typically reserved for between-round quitting but can also be used when one fighter simply refuses to continue mid-fight. Oddly, Gurgel and Smith’s Wikipedia pages both say that Smith submitted to an armbar.
Fight 5: Mark Kerr def. Sidney Goncalves Freitas via DQ (Crawling out of the Ring) R1 2:21
Yep, that’s what happened here.
Fight 7: Pedro Rizzo def. Richard Heard via Submission (Punishment) R1 13:12
As it turns out, “punishment” is one part submission to punches and one part retirement. After 13 minutes of being dominated, Heard was mounted by Rizzo, absorbed a couple left hands to the head and tapped out. The accumulation of damage seemed to play a part in his quitting, but the punches were what brought on the finish. The word “punishment” most likely came from the show’s commentators, who declared at the end of the fight that Heard “knew he was punished.”
Chris Nelson is an associate editor for Sherdog.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with your Fight Finder-related queries.