Lead Jab- Is controlling really effective grappling ?

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Posted by Mika Frankl

This past weekend I, like many people, tuned into the UFC 148: Silva vs Sonnen II event. The main card delivered with excitement and three TKO finishes. The prelims on the other hand were full of striker vs grappler match ups. Meaning one person was trying to strike and in several cases the other person was happy dragging the fight to the ground and as Joe Rogan says “showing really effective control”. Well then I ask what does effective control have to do with a fight?

Take the example of the one facebook protested bout for UFC 148, Yoislandy Izqudierdo vs Rafaello Oliveira. Izquduierdo started off each round stalking forward using his striking to hurt Oliveira. Oliveira would  then use his offense gaining the clinch and achieving a successful takedown. From there Oliveira several times would advance to the side control position which again is effective. From here though is where my understanding of effective grappling is lost. Oliveira was not throwing strikes from the top position and was half heartedly attempting a kimura. The half heartedly part is because no attempt at the submission was planned out, they were more strength attempts then technical maneuvers, which allowed Izqudierdo to easily defend. What Oliveira did accomplish was a neutralization of Izqudierdo. The most damage of that bout was done from the elbow of Izquierdo landing strikes and causing a cut in the hair line of Oliveira. The bout ended up going to the judges and on basis of top control Oliveira won every round for a unanimous decision.

I understand the need for a criminal to be neutralized, but I fail to see how neutralizing during a fight is an effective fighting style, to me it sounds like avoiding the fight. Most people don’t need a fight in their every day life, but when your a professional fighter violence is accepted. Violence it’s what every promoter and every fighter says will happen. More than strikers, grapplers only have one huge professional outlet for there skills and that’s MMA. So I have no clue how a grappler wanting to prove the effectiveness of their style could be happy saying three five minute rounds of holding someone on their back is considered winning a fight. I see nothing more wrong in MMA then when one person is cut an swollen from being hit but, wins for having take downs and control. The guy being controlled usually looks tired but not like the loser of a fight.

In a example of a fight with effective grappling but with no finish look at the bout between John Alessio and Shane Roller. The difference in this fight is that when Roller took the battle to the ground after being beaten in the striking area, Roller was using strikes to soften up Alessio and attacking submissions from different angles. Just watching both fights back to back at the same event showed the attempts at trying to win and be effective vs the guy  just neutralizing doing nothing abiding the fight.

The difference I’d like people to acknowledge is that “controlling” or “neutralizing” is not the sport of MMA or a fight. It is avoiding the fight and avoiding the action. Effective grappling and striking needs to be looked at as attempts to end the bout not just wait for time to run out. Don’t think because I say this that I have no respect for grappling I mean nothing is more impressive then a submission. A submission is a finish of beauty, every movement done to gain the greatest amount of leverage, the physical strain between the fighters invalid in the struggle. It’s all actions of beauty and technique. To be in a fight and have your opponent tap out seem as it would be the ultimate in satisfaction. A knockout is cool but could  come from a luck, blind recklessness, or  accidental punch, but the submission was thought out planned and forced to occur.

In closing, the only part of control that matters is the control of the takedown, standing and striking, or on the ground grappling. As a fan either way we deserve to see to men working towards the finish.

Follow Knuxx writer Mika Frankl on Twitter at cagedmindsmma