("Wrestling should be a means to an end…You should be taking guys down so you can ground-and-pound the living piss out of them." Photo courtesy of the UFN 22 Weigh In Pics gallery on CombatLifestyle.com.)
If Cole Miller‘s match against Ross Pearson at tonight’s UFC Fight Night 22 event is boring, it won’t be Cole’s fault. The lightweight standout prides himself on being an exciting fight-finisher, and has stopped three of his last four opponents by submission. Miller was a guest on the latest installment of CagePotato’s Bum Rush Radio Show, and gave us an earful about the growing trend of point-fighting "underachievers" in MMA and why judging in the sport sucks so badly. Check out an excerpt from Miller’s segment below, and please subscribe to The Bum Rush Show on iTunes!
CAGEPOTATO.COM: I just saw your interview with BJPenn.com, where you referred to Frankie Edgar as a "bouncy wrestler type" who doesn’t try to finish, and is content to just stick and move and score the occasional takedown for points. Was Frankie dominating BJ Penn really not that impressive to you?
COLE MILLER: No, I thought it was very impressive. I don’t think you can say anything about his skill set. It’s just more like, I look back at his past fights — and it’s not so much Frankie Edgar, it’s just a trend with all weight classes and all these fighters — and it’s becoming more like boxing where these guys are just trying to do enough to win the round. "Let’s do just enough to get by. Let’s get that 10 points. And then let’s get that 10 points again. Oh, I’m up two rounds to none? Man, let’s just ride this out. Let’s just survive and do enough to just stay competitive, and man, I got that 29-28 at the very least."
It’s like, that’s really what you came here to do? And I’m not talking so much about Frankie [in] this second BJ fight. I’m just using him as an example because it was a recent fight and he’s a guy that has a lot of decisions on his record. Man the guy can really box, the guy’s got awesome boxing, he’s got good footwork, he definitely comes in shape, and he didn’t look like a slouch on the ground, he’s very well rounded, so to say that you’re not impressed with somebody, especially a champion, I think that’s kind of silly…it’s more like the mental approach to fighting. I just think that guys should have more of a finishing outlook on fights. Doing enough to just get by, that’s not something that’s looked well upon.
You look at boxing, why is MMA outdoing it on pay-per-view for the most part? It’s not because people can appreciate the takedowns and the ground game all that much more, even though the general population is becoming more and more educated, it’s because people like to see fights finished. Boxing was not getting the knockouts and you weren’t seeing these devastating knockouts like you used to, and people stopped buying the pay per views because the general public doesn’t want to see 36 minutes of two guys both trying to do enough to win the rounds and get that 10, and get that 10, and get that 10….
And you see this as a growing trend in MMA?
Yeah, for sure, don’t you? … I don’t deny that it takes a certain amount of smarts and intelligence and strategy and things like that, but this is fighting. This is not "avoid the fighting." This is fighting. So when you hit the ground, let’s just say wrestler vs. striker, alright? If a wrestler takes a striker down but doesn’t have him down all the way, why would the striker spend 15 minutes trying to get up, when he just keeps getting taken back down on his hip? Clearly you know you’re not winning if this wrestler’s holding you down and all you’re trying to do is get back up. It’s called "mixed martial arts." Well start mixing some of the martial arts instead of just doing your one thing. Like, do some standup and do some ground. You don’t gotta train gi, but do your sambo, or your judo, or your catch, or your submission wrestling, or your instructor’s personal style, like a 10th Planet Eddie Bravo jiu-jitsu. You need to train some ground, and you need to do your striking, like your savate, or your tae kwon do, or your boxing, or your Muay Thai.
Someone said it well on one of those forums, that wrestling should be a means to an end. It should just be enough to control the fight where you want it to be, not to control the fight. You should be taking guys down so you can ground-and-pound the living piss out of them and make them bleed all over the place to a finish, or enough for you to once you take them down, pass their guard, or sit back on a footlock or do whatever it is that you do in order to finish the fight…
I think that finishing is what is good for the sport. And I think the UFC stands behind that too. Why do you think the UFC gives out Fight of the Night, Submission of the Night, and Knockout of the Night honors and bonuses? They want you to finish. That’s what you call overachieving. Doing enough to get by? Doing enough to secure the rounds? That’s underachieving. So people are saying "you little bastard, Frankie Edgar will kick your ass." And I’m like, look, that’s not what I’m saying. That’s not the point, if he’ll kick my ass or not. It’s not the point if Mark Coleman can kick my ass, or Tito Ortiz can kick my ass. I’m talking from a fan’s perspective, and as someone who doesn’t want to see the sport go down the way boxing is starting to plummet.
Do you think the rules and the scoring need to be edited or revisited, as far as stalling and those sorts of things go?
Yeah, but it’s going to take a while. The judging has to change, and the outlook on mixed martial arts has to change. And we’re dealing with mostly older people now [as judges], not this generation of mixed martial artists. Once this generation, the people from 1993 until now, the people who have really fought mixed martial arts, once these people can become judges — people who have really trained and really know what’s going on — that’s when the fights are going to start to change. Because what do we have now? We got guys like Cecil Peoples judging the fights. And this guy’s the antichrist of judging. It’s like, I’ll see his scores and I’m just like "man, what is going on here?"
People can relate to impact. Because when you get pushed on a playground and you fall down as a child, what do you feel? That impact, it hurts. When you’re playing in the woods — kids don’t play in the woods anymore, when I was growing up, kids played in the woods — you’d fall and you’d cut yourself on a rock. You see a street-fight and someone — boom! — dumps the guy, what do you hear? Ooooooh! So it’s like, when people get punched in the face, and people get slammed, and cut from impact, this kind of stuff is always gonna weigh more because the judges of this era can relate more to impact. They don’t know what it’s like to have a guy like Marcelo Garcia or Roger Gracie just put simple shoulder pressure on your face. They don’t know what it’s like to have somebody like Marcelo sweep you with such ease, like you’re nothing. Or a guy grab a hold of your arm to fully, I mean, they’re gonna try to rip it off. Or a guy like Minotauro grab a triangle choke. They can’t relate to this. So even though they might know "oh, this is activity, and a triangle choke is aggressively trying to finish," these people can’t relate to the sense of urgency and fear that someone can have of being finished. But they know what it’s like to get hit in the face, and they know what it’s like to get slammed, because they might have wrestled in high school. People can relate to that, but they can’t relate to the jiu-jitsu aspect.
I think a failed submission attempt should be the same thing as when someone lands a good jab. A solid submission attempt, where it’s a near-finish and something happens and they slip out, that should be like landing a right hand that drops somebody. But this is not the way that it’s scored.