Viewpoint: Misdirected Hostility

By Tristen Critchfield Jun 25, 2012

One of the greatest things about this technology-savvy age is how quickly we can relay and receive information through various mediums.

Such immediacy also has its downfalls, not the least of which appears to be the foot-in-mouth syndrome that is so prevalent on social media sites such as Twitter. When a fight such as the lightweight clash between Gray Maynard and Clay Guida sets off viewers like fire ants at a picnic, initial reactions are bound to be swift, harsh and oftentimes inaccurate.

This is not to say the UFC on FX 4 main event was an instant classic. In fact, it was far from it. When two supposed Top 10 contenders are landing less than a quarter of their strikes over the course of 25 minutes, it is about as aesthetically pleasing to watch as Mike Russow in a Speedo. Judging from reactions around the World Wide Web, much of the blame for this lies with Guida, whose strategy of stick-and-move was often a 50-percent endeavor.

For his efforts, “The Carpenter” was raked over the figurative Twitter coals by his peers. Here are just a few reactions:

Yves Edwards: “I don’t know if it would have been tougher for Gray Maynard to beat Clay Guida in a fight or at Dance Dance Revolution.”

Siyar Bahadurzada: “I think the UFC should shave Clay Guida’s head as punishment for his performance tonight.”

Luke Rockhold: “Man, Guida is hard to watch. Kudos to Gray Maynard for putting up with that.”

Vinny Magalhaes: “If there were yellow cards in UFC like they used to have in Pride, Clay Guida would be paying to fight by now.”

And on it went. For a guy who received such a positive reaction from those in attendance at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., on his way to the Octagon, Guida sure turned into public enemy No. 1 by the end of the night. I personally did not have a problem with Guida’s approach, especially when going toe-to-toe with a bigger, stronger wrestler would have been an almost certain recipe for disaster.

Guida has always been something of a hit-and-miss performer in the cage. His fights against the likes of Diego Sanchez and Tyson Griffin are legendary, and his recent loss to Benson Henderson certainly could have bolstered the UFC on Fox 1 broadcast. However, his victory over Anthony Pettis was not one for the memory banks, nor was his submission of Takanori Gomi, the man against whom he first really began to showcase the awkward movement that so frustrated Maynard.

So blame Guida for a subpar main event if you must. Winning is the name of the game, and “The Carpenter” adopted an approach best suited to attain that goal. A warning from referee Dan Miragliotta in the second round instead of the fifth might have helped change the course of the fight.

The attacks on Guida were not the most troubling part about post-fight reaction. If the negativity did not bother the fighter himself -- “Why is everyone so quiet? Let’s have some fun,” he said upon entering the UFC on FX 4 press conference -- then it should not get to anyone else, either. The bigger issue was the cheap shots directed at Guida’s camp at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts. Again, here are just a few prominent reactions:

Dan Hardy: “That was the right decision. Greg Jackson’s gameplans are going to kill this sport.”

Micah Miller: “Man, Guida looked really Greg Jackson-trained tonight.”

David Rickels: “@Dana White petition to ban Greg Jackson fighters.”

Let us forget for a moment that a Jackson’s MMA game plan helped Carlos Condit knock out Hardy cold in front of his countrymen at UFC 120; let us dismiss the idea that if fighters from the renowned gym had been banned from UFC on FX 4, then there would have been no Cub Swanson “Knockout of the Night” performance against Ross Pearson; and let us also overlook the fact that a recent feature on Jackson’s team in the printed version of Sports Illustrated, a magazine which generally spends about as much time on MMA as it does the WNBA, brought some more positive publicity to the sport.

UFC President Dana White stoked the anti-Jackson’s fire in an interview on Fuel TV.

“Some goof put it in his head that running around in circles would win [Guida] the fight, and he was dead wrong,” he said.

White did not name names, but the targets were obvious. It was not the first time White has gone that route, either -- a somewhat lackluster bout between Jackson-trained Nate Marquardt and Yushin Okami prompted the UFC boss to go off on a tirade about fighters from the Albuquerque, N.M.-based camp in 2010. Back then, Jackson calmly responded by printing up a list of post-fight awards won by his fighters and emailing it to various media outlets. As you can imagine, it was fairly extensive, and it is worth noting that Guida had several documented bonuses on that sheet. Of course, those facts are often overlooked when it becomes convenient.

Some of the backlash is to be expected. It comes when any team or individual enjoys the sustained success that Jackson’s MMA has experienced. It is why so many people take so much pleasure in hating the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys. Win long enough, and people are going to try and pick you apart.

I am not in any rush to re-watch the Guida-Maynard bout, but I do not think it is contributing to the demise of the UFC. It was simply an awkward clash of styles. For every dud put forth by a Jackson’s MMA fighter -- and there are not a lot -- there are many more performances in which strategy and action exist in perfect harmony. If you need proof, just watch most any Jon Jones fight.

Does the angry MMA fan -- and there were plenty on Friday -- need to experience an “It’s a Wonderful Life” scenario to truly appreciate the product that Jackson’s gym produces? An MMA world without the likes of Jones, Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez and Carlos Condit certainly would not be as much fun as it is now.

Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn do not craft game plans catered to entertaining fans, but take a look at the track record. Most of the time, winning and entertainment are wedded by default. Sometimes that is easy to forget in the heat of a social-media fueled moment.


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