“Losing is no disgrace if you’ve given your best.”Jim Palmer
I have seen it countless times, but it gets me every time I see someone coast their way to a loss.
It frustrates me to no end, because as a fighter I wasn’t built to lose with grace. Whether I lost by a referee’s decision or by submission, a loss is a loss. When it goes down in the records books, all anyone will see is a L. Furthermore, promoters don’t pay you more for having a close loss versus getting finished.
So why are fighters still coasting to a loss? Take a look at this past UFC on ESPN 1, where we had Andre Fili jab his was to victory against Myles Jury.
Now I have had the pleasure of training and coaching Myles back in 2013 for a few months, and think he is a nice guy and a good fighter. But, I have to be honest and express some strong disappointment in his performance.
It was evident to me within the first minute that Andre was faster and had the better jab. He quickly bloodied the nose of Myles and was sticking him with that jab. But Myles seemed content to play the game of whose jab was better, even though he was on the losing end of the exchanges.
It didn’t make any sense, but he fought almost the whole fight in this same manner. No take down attempts, no major shifts in strategy, just being on the losing end of jab exchanges. Jury had one good moment at the end of round 2 when he connected a spinning back fist, and dropped Fili, which stole the round for Jury. But instead of capitalizing on more aggressive attacks in the final round, he went back to exchanging jabs when it was clear he was on his way to a loss.
I’m not sure if he thought he was winning (hard to imagine), too focused on executing the game plan they trained for, or just an ego thing to try to out jab him, but it showed poor fight IQ. Oddly enough, Andre Fili said before the fight he had a better fight IQ than Myles Jury, and commentator Dominick Cruz remarked saying he didn’t understand what that meant.
Well, in my opinion fight IQ is a measure of how well you make decisions in a fight that move you towards victory. Especially when circumstances change – an injury happens or the opponent is presenting a weakness or strength that wasn’t expected – how well you adapt to that is a reflection of fight IQ in my view.
Andre remarked after the fight that he knew the jab was working, so why change strategy – and he is exactly right. He didn’t need to do anything different.
I believe Myles had the tools to win this fight. He could have worked more kicks, right hands, and take downs. But instead, he just sat there and let the match slip out of his hands. This is what I call losing gracefully. There was no struggle to try and wrest victory from his opponent’s hands – he just accepted defeat and went with the flow.
I have lost my share of matches, but never gracefully. I have always fought my heart out to the bitter end. I will take more chances, and be very aggressive, throwing flying triangle chokes, or desperation shots to try and score one last time. Of course it isn’t ideal, but it’s better than doing nothing. As long as there is a chance there is a hope.
But chance only favors those bold enough to go after it. If you are just content to take a loss as you watch the clock count down, I have to wonder if this sport is really for you. To me, it is worse than a cardio tap at the gym. So while some might think it graceful, I actually see it as disgraceful.
I’d rather be carried out in stretcher while fighting my heart out than to just coast my way to defeat. And as the quote above from Jim Palmer says, if you have given your all, there is no shame in the outcome. But when you are just idling your way through a match and saving yourself for another contest, that is hardly putting your best effort.
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