This is the second in a series of reviews I’m doing about UFC 113. Check out part one, where I take an in – depth look at Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione, and part two where I tackle the rematch between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua.
The next fight I’m going to review is the co-main event featuring Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley. Many people are aggravated by this matchup because of a few things, the first being the so-called “phantom knee”. About 4 minutes into the first round, Daley delivers a knee to a downed Josh Koscheck. However, after reviewing the replay several times, it seems that the knee actually did not hit Koscheck at all. The referee, Dan Miragliotta, even officially returns the point he originally removed from Daley because of the incident.
Despite that, though, Koscheck was immediately reeling in pain after the knee “hit”. Color Commentator Joe Rogan initially suspected that Daley’s toe might have accidentally hit Koscheck’s eye, but further reviews of the replay video debunct even that. Speculations then immediately arise if Koscheck was simply hamming it up as a tactic to deduct a point away from his opponent. When confronted about the incident later on, Koscheck simply replies that he didn’t know what hit him, but that he was deeply in pain at the time.
The second source of aggravation was Koscheck’s game plan going into the fight. There was a legendary bout of smack talking between the fighters that heavily hyped their matchup, so fans naturally assumed that this would result in an all – out war of some sorts in the cage. Unfortunately, Koscheck betrays those expectations by playing it safe and mimicking Georges St-Pierre’s tactics against Dan Hardy.
In order to avoid Daley’s devastating striking prowess, Koscheck repeatedly takes the fight to the ground with his superior wrestling ability and dominates Daley in what many would call a “lay and pray” strategy (in which the superior wrestler among the two fighters would simply take down his opponent and lie on top of him until the bell rings. This strategy works despite being incredibly boring to watch because the judges consider it “octagon control” and gives points to the fighter).
Personally, I disagree with this, and on paper, is what I actually expected from Koscheck. People complain about UFC bouts all the time when they don’t result in stand up wars of some sort. Guess what? Half of mixed martial arts is a ground game component, and if you’re tremendously weak in half of the sport, you’re in trouble. Koscheck knew that Daley’s skills were one – sided in this way: incredible stand-up, and terribly mediocre ground game. Now, Koscheck’s stand-up isn’t anything to laugh about either. He has a great highlight reel of knockouts coming from punches and head kicks, but his wrestling is definitely his main strength. So, yes, again, if you match up these two on paper, this would definitely be the result.
What I’m always confused with is why people almost never look at the flipside of the coin. People always criticize GSP for this sort of strategy but almost never criticize his opponent, Dan Hardy, for working better to prevent this from happening. Yes, GSP is an extraordinarily talented athlete and wrestler, but he’s only human and there are ways around that. Chuck Liddell, for example, has used well trained wrestling abilities to consistently stay standing.
The third point of contention is the surprise ending of the match, where Daley delivers an illegal punch to Koscheck’s face after the final bell had rung. Joe Rogan comments that Daley should be in jail because he assaulted Josh Koscheck. When confronted by the press, Daley oddly responds that he didn’t hear the bell ring. Kind of hard to believe when Koscheck was already walking away from him and he had to clearly get his attention first before administering the blow. Dan Miragliotta immediately wrestles him to the other side of the cage to control him. Koscheck then goes on to win the match via an obvious unanimous decision.
Now, this is very similar to another ugly, recent incident in MMA: the Strikeforce brawl, in which two acts of violence after a main event fight take place which cats a dark shadow in the young sport. MMA is very difficult to promote in most areas because of its extremely aggressive nature. Dana White has worked for years to clean up its name and make it a worldwide phenomenon and he’s clearly on the right track, so when things of this nature occur in his own backyard, things are going to be decisive.
I personally think that this particular incident looks far worse than the Strikeforce debacle. This is because the Strikeforce scene looks like a staged event. Many viewers are actually used to such things because it’s quite common in professional wrestling. Daley’s actions, however, are clearly due to only extremely bad sportsmanship, and made me wince.
Commentator Mike Goldberg states that Daley should be immediately suspended for that, while Joe Rogan jokes that it was the only clean hit he landed in the whole fight. I do, however, think that the event was handled way better than Strikeforce did theirs and was cleaned up quicker and without controversy. See, this is where Dana White truly shines and is part of the reason how he has made this sport as successful as it is today. Love him or hate him, his extremely aggressive attitude towards decisions and conflicts gets the job done, and fast. Dana immediately cut Daley from the UFC stating that he didn’t care if he’s ever considered the pound for pound best fighter in the world; he’ll never fight for the UFC again. Period. No dancing around the issue with delays and interviews and board meetings or anything else that seems largely unprofessional. You confront an issue, and you immediately deal with it. And that’s what makes Dana White and the UFC great.
Another thing is that Dana White officially announced during the pre – fight press conference that the winner of the match will become a coach on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite current Welterweight champion Georges “Rush St-Pierre, culminating in a championship fight. I am personally very excited to see GSP coach against Kos. I believe the vast differences between their personalities would make for a very interesting season, sort of like Bisping vs. Henderson on steroids, since I believe Kos talks smack way better and louder than “The Count”.