Chronicle: The defending of a belt
My thought is always, when I’m sick, I work, and when I’m tired, I work and there are times I hurt myself some way or another and I still go to work. It’s called life.
I’ve been walking around in a confused state (more so than normal) as to how I feel about Fabricio Werdum and his decision to pull from UFC 196 which is now known as UFC Fight Night. It’s true that there is a point of injury where a fighter should not compete because they are medically unfit to go and do their job. No matter what part of the body that is, whether it’s a concussion, the sniffles or a broken pinky toe, if for whatever reason a medical doctor (familiar with combat sports) says that it is unsafe for someone to compete as it could impair or cause serious injury then they shouldn’t fight. Granted, sniffles and broken pinky toes might not be legitimate reasons to pull from a fight, there are times where one more hit to the head can cause serious damage or a person’s knee cannot function and they are moments away from tearing every usable ligament and will walk with a limp for the rest of their life. Then they shouldn’t fight. My thought is always, when I’m sick, I work, and when I’m tired, I work and there are times I hurt myself some way or another and I still go to work. It’s called life.
Now, the easy answer is for someone to say, well, they are athletes and fighters and you are a whatever and to that I say… That is their choice. Plain and simple, if your job is to flip burgers or to punch faces, it’s your job and whether you are sick, going through a bad break up, hurt your arm, if you are medically cleared to work, then you should work. I believe this is why people love Conor McGregor and Chuck Liddell and Cowboy and others, because they say, I will fight. I am a fighter, it’s what I do. They did not say, well, I need 13 weeks, and I also can’t fight if it’s a Tuesday and my girlfriend and I are arguing or if episodes of breaking bad are on. No, those people say, I’ll fight, I’ll show up and win lose or draw I’ll fight. People can say, it’s not smart, they are losing by doing that and to them I say, show the average person a picture of Chuck Liddell who has been retired for years and show a picture of Fabricio Werdum, which of the two do you think they will recognize? When you take that attitude (one that Dana White has said on EVERY single show, I love the guys who want to fight) the company whether you win or lose will usually keep throwing you in there. People can say, it’s wrong of them to take advantage of their fighters like that, the UFC is just using those guys and doesn’t care about them. But they are cashing checks from those fights. They aren’t doing it for free, they are getting better bonus’s, higher paychecks, bigger draws a better name and thrown into more promotional material.
After starting this article my mind has shifted to the point where now I believe it’s a fighters job to fight, they signed up for it and unless they are medically unfit to compete, they should be stripped of their belt. Werdum was more afraid of losing his belt in a fight than to perform as a fighter, in that case, he shouldn’t have the belt. The job of the champion is to defend the belt against every opponent. Had Werdum decided before Cain pulled out that his injury was bad enough to withdraw, I’d say that’s acceptable. But the fact that he was going to fight one guy with this injury but then after his opponent that he believed he could beat pulled out he suddenly felt all the ache’s and pains that were there but were not that bad, I see that as fight dodging and to the victor goes the spoils. Plain and simple, we cannot have champions like Aldo or Valesquez or Cruz who fight once every year or two. The UFC cannot afford to have champions that blow out their hamstrings every time they take a crap. No matter how cool their tattoo’s are or how good their footwork is, a division falls apart. As much as people say how much they love or hate Conor or Cowboy, those guys fight. They fight everyone and every chance and put on 3 to 5 shows a year and miraculously, they seem to have the biggest names, highest draws, biggest paychecks and carry entire cards win lose or draw. When a belt isn’t used for a year, the division weakens, when a belt is defended or taken by another fighter, the interest in that division grows exponentially (look what Lawler has done since GSP left.) True, there are people that are injury prone or getting older or whatever the case might be, do some yoga and cardio kickboxing whatever just get in that case. No matter how good you are in the cage, if you can never make it to the cage, despite what you’ve done and what you can do maybe you should do something else. This isn’t a knock against just Werdum, that guy is a strange riddle and a stud and he isn’t exactly known for pulling out of fights. Going forward, this is something that the UFC as a company should consider. The saying goes, your only as good as your last fight. If an event is almost cancelled and your last fight you pulled out, then the statement remains, you are only as good as your last fight.