Editorial: Sportsmanship in the UFC?


USA Today published an article this morning claiming Nate Diaz believes that Sportsmanship doesn’t describe the UFC.  In the article Nate is quoted as saying, “Everybody who fights tries to sell themselves as a great sportsman and competitor, a great athlete.  We’re out there trying to damage each other and finish each other. We’re trying to take each other out. We both want to win by knockout or submission or some type of finish rather than decision. I think that’s pretty unsportsmanlike in itself.”

Unsportsmanlike?  This claim seems to be over generalizing things based on few and I would say ‘questionable’ examples when compared with the majority of participants in this sport.  Let’s break things down for a moment.

By definition the very nature of ‘sport’ is to engage in an “activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”  – Google Dictionary.

Sportsmanship has a few definitions that resonate with most common interpretations of the term.  Princeton University’s WordNet for example describes it as “fairness in following the rules of the game”.  The Free Online Dictionary has a more detail definition, “Conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants in sports, especially fair play, courtesy, striving spirit, and grace in losing.”

Before I explain all the reasons I think that Nate is misguided in his opinions let me just say that it’s very important to remember that every sport is ultimately for entertainment.  Sure there may be drama, there may be conflict, but it’s all part of the game.  Crowds gather to see conflict and drama, to see battles, and ultimately to see a victory.  Fans get excited and opinionated about all the pre-fight rhetoric, somewhat fabricated emotional conflicts and what not, but again this is all part of the sport and ultimately as long as the fight is clean and there is a definitive victor then the fans are happy.

In previous interviews with both the Diaz brothers there have been references to their belief that Martial Arts is a lifestyle.  This is a common and popular belief and one that SciFighting adopts as well.  However, there is an understanding and respect for the relevance of the sport in both mixed and traditional martial arts.

I find it ironic that Nate would make such comments after all the hype and emotion  exhibited prior to the UFC 158 bout between GSP and Nate’s older brother Nick Diaz resulted in both fighters being cordial and even friendly after the fight.  They behaved like true Sportsman.  In-fact this just went to show how far Nick and Georges were willing to go to excite the fans prior to the fight, and then demonstrate class after the fight.  My compliments to both on a well executed performance.

It’s easy to get swept up in the hype and start to take the marketing a little too seriously. However, we all need to remember this is a sport.  This is for entertainment.  The philosophies and fundamental beliefs behind Martial Arts as a lifestyle have their place and  they are extremely beneficial to the mind, body and spirit of a human being.  How-ever the octagon is a place for entertainment, not lecture, not preaching, and certainly not speaking ill of the very sport that fans who’ve come to see you perform are so excited about.

If I ever took issue with anything a fighter in any of these promotions would do, it is to bash the organization they are a part of.  That, is unsportsmanlike.

Of course, there is always the possibility that even the rhetoric that Nate was regurgitating in the USA Today article was just more marketing hype to generate headlines.  If so, a little drama will certainly go a ways towards getting that press coverage.  How-ever there is a point where the fans may grow tired of the rhetoric and begin to withdraw.

Again, I’ll reiterate that we don’t like taking sides at SciFighting, how-ever when we see something that just doesn’t ‘feel’ right, we will comment on it.

Regardless of how we feel, what we really want to know is what do all the fans think?  Please send us your thoughts in the comments section or on Facebook!

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Luca Rajabi
Luca has been passionate about martial arts and eastern philosophies since childhood. As an athlete, inventor and entrepreneur Luca founded SciFighting on the principal lessons learned from his life experience "fighting" to preserve his health and fitness. Although born with inherently poor and inconsistent health he pushed forward to learn as much as he could about the sciences of technology, medicine and mental health. Years of study, working with physicians and combined analysis finally began to bare fruit by his early twenties. Starting with Fencing, cross training and body building then moving to Boxing, Western Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiujitsu, Eskrima and an eclectic assortment of self defense techniques. Luca's core philosophy is that to win a battle every fighter must balance their mental and physical health. Luca has said that "With well developed technique, conditioning and mental focus a sound strategy will most often win over brute strength alone." It is in this spirit that he passionately advocates for the "Science of Fighting".