Musical Wheelchairs: Sonnen Wants Forfeiture… and So Do We
STUDIO MMA, VENICE, CA — Believe it or not, we agree with Chael Sonnen. Most of what the Oregonian middleweight does and says causes us to cringe — his incessant trash-talking, his questionable use and defense of TRT, his past conviction for money laundering. But, we find common ground with Sonnen on the issue of how to address the disruptive string of injuries that has caused an absurd number of bout modifications, delays, and cancellations in the UFC this year. Institute a forfeiture rule in MMA.
Sonnen argues, and we concur, that one of the only ways to reverse this very frustrating and costly trend is to record a withdrawal due to injury as a loss on the fighter’s professional MMA record. This puts the onus on the fighters and their trainers. But, frankly, there is nowhere else to put it.
Some may argue that this is unfair to the fighters. However, quite clearly, these training injuries are rooted in just a few possible causes — the fighters are sparring too intensely, the fighters are not taking the necessary safety precautions in practice, etc. Yes, sometimes injuries are freak, blameless occurrences. However, the dramatic increase in their frequency over the past 24 months shows that behavioral changes that are taking place in MMA training camps are likely the culprit.
Some fighters who take all the necessary precautions and who exercise jurisprudence in their sparring will still get injured. But, sadly, shit happens. And shit can happen before a fight, during a fight, or when the judges turn in their score cards. There are myriad reasons why a fighter might be penalized for something that is not his/her fault. It is part of the sport. Such fates are part of every sport.
… We’re the only sport where you can just not show up… Every event is set. The Super Bowl for 2015. The kickoff time, the venue – it’s set. If one team doesn’t want to show up, a Super Bowl champion will be crowned that day.
The UFC has to act now to discourage dangerous practices and prevent training injuries — and it must act swiftly and forcefully. With every postponed or cancelled fight, the UFC is losing fans and disappointing the supporters who have contributed to the growth of the promotion. At a time when the sport has tremendous momentum and is on the cusp of a tipping point that will have ramifications for decades to come, the UFC must insure that the show goes on.