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CagePotato Ban: Giving It Up for ‘Heart’

(Shane may have had heart, balls, guts, and a chin, but they were no match for Junior’s elite-level anatomical-metaphor defense.)

We’re almost a week removed from the magnificent beatdown that Junior dos Santos laid on Shane Carwin, and it’s probably safe to assume that all of the post-fight articles have been written about the main event at UFC 131. Well, all but one.

This article is not specifically about UFC 131 or Shane Carwin — it’s about a certain phrase that has been tied to Carwin’s performance following his three-round beating, and that phrase is “He showed a lot of heart.”

Do a Google search on MMA “showed heart” and look at the names associated with the term: Shane Carwin, Paul Daley, Roy Nelson, and Andrei Arlovski, just to name a few. Any fighter that stood in there and took a beating, yup, he “showed a lot of heart.”

It’s time to retire that phrase, and here’s why…

It’s lazy. I’ve been guilty of using the phrase myself, but I will no longer use it and I encourage anyone covering MMA to do the same. We see a fighter get beaten bloody, but he doesn’t tap, he doesn’t get KO’d and he doesn’t quit, so we attribute his performance to this mythical thing called “heart.” It’s an easy way out, and too often replaces actual analysis of the losing fighter’s performance.

It’s essentially meaningless. How do you measure heart, guts, and chutzpah? You can’t; it’s all perception. One man’s version of heart is another man’s version of sheer stupidity. Not to pick on Carwin – God knows he was beaten enough on Saturday night — but did he hang in there out of “heart” or out of the never-quit attitude that is pounded into wrestlers and other combat sport participants from a very young age? Do these fighters show this “heart” out of fear of looking soft? (As BJ Penn once said, “You tap from strikes, you’re a little bitch, that’s what I think.”) Besides, these are professional fighters we’re talking about. We don’t really expect them to run out of the cage screaming when things get tough.

It masks the truth. If I were going to write a story about UFC 131 using simple, everyday language and avoid any type of euphemism, the lede would read something like this: “On Saturday, Shane Carwin took a 15 minute beating at the hands of Junior dos Santos. At the end of the fight Carwin’s face was bloody and swollen, he was cut under both eyes and appeared to have a broken nose. Carwin was ineffective during the fight, landing 22 strikes compared to dos Santos’ 104. Carwin was never in the fight, but he showed that he can stand in there and take a beating.” No mention of heart, and you know why? Because it doesn’t exist, outside of the realm of metaphor. The truth is that Carwin can take a punch and he elected to take many of them over the course of the fight. That’s more a deficiency of strategy than anything else.

It leads to things like this. Carwin’s trainer, Trevor Wittman, who by all accounts is one of the best in the business, had the following to say to MMAMania after the fight, “To me, that was like watching a Rocky Balboa movie. Movies are made about stuff like that. As a trainer, I felt we won. We didn’t win the fight but we won as a person and as a team. He did not get beat mentally.”

I understand where Wittman is coming from in this – he has to take something positive away from the loss for his fighter – but to state that Carwin’s beating is the stuff “movies are made about.” Well, that’s a stretch. To say he won as a person and a team? How is that the case? Your fighter gets a loss on his record and he also received a trip to the ER. That’s a loss. The “moral victory,” like heart, is just a weak consolation. While Carwin may not have been beaten mentally he sure as hell was beaten physically and in a sport where you are judged with a W or an L, that’s what counts. There are no asterisks after a loss that say, “He showed a lot of heart.”

So please, let’s do away with “heart.” It was a lame power to have on Captain Planet, and has even less relevance in the real world. 


Cagepotato Comments

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radiantgonder- May 28, 2013 at 6:49 am
Someone please get this idiot in the ring so we can watch and see how his conjecture falls through as he clearly has no idea what he is talking about.
radiantgonder- May 28, 2013 at 6:41 am
Wow. You know, I'm not even going to respond to this with intellect because you don't deserve it. I believe I will just call you an idiot...

You are an idiot.
GrandShamrock- November 16, 2012 at 7:36 am
Having heart is and always was a CONSOLATION, so this article is stupid. You can take a beating, you can get 20 new scars, but not quitting means you still believe in yourself, or that you are not trying to let down everyone who believed in you. Of course, taking a beating is not smart, but fighting overall isnt smart either. So judging how things are or not smart in the fighting game is nonsense.
macreadysshack- June 17, 2011 at 10:51 am
Anyone who comments on this needs to get a life. May I borrow one from one of you dipshits?
jamiepert- June 17, 2011 at 9:47 am
@Fedor Penn.... I love a Datsik story every now and then lol, if a month goes by without one I am not a happy man!
Fedor Penn- June 17, 2011 at 9:30 am
This article seems pointless and appears to be some type of filler. More Vyacheslav Datsik stories please.
Fried Taco- June 17, 2011 at 8:41 am
They hooked a machine up to Roy Nelson to measure his heart, and they heard a small wheezing voice saying "Help me! Please get me out of here!"
FrontKick Dentist- June 17, 2011 at 8:06 am
Stupid article it is so dumb I think you might have wrote something even you didn't believe just to get us all riled up.
jamiepert- June 17, 2011 at 8:00 am
Hmmm, I personally like the phrase "he showed a lot of heart". There is something unmeasurable in everyone of us, some of us are quitters who will probably get nothing in life which they truly have to work towards, whilst others achieve far more than they ever should have been able to, yes the word "heart" is a little misleading, but it works for me.

Let's take you back to GSP vs Dan Hardy, Hardy could have lost that fight in many ways, his arm could have been broken (a couple of times), he could have given up due to ground and pound or he could have stayed in his corner after taking 20 minutes of beatings rather than go out for another 5 minutes of a fight he probably had less than 5% chance of winning, why did he stay in the fight? Heart.

In my opinion professional fighters know how to take the edge of submission holds and their body's are more used to being bent and twisted in weird ways than us armchair fans, they also have a better pain threshold than us and a better mindsets, but I believe that heart deserves its place in an MMA fighter's artillery. Without it the drive to fight would not exist and fighters would not perform to their true potential, currently Fedor's heart is being tested and after the Silva loss it looked like he had lost it, also if you check most of CroCop's recent fights you will see that his heart is rarely in it, I am by no means a psychology expert, in fact I struggle to spell the word, but I think that heart shapes a person's character and it is what all the greatest fighters have a lot of when they are at their peak.

My rant is over, feel free to argue your points as I enjoy the differences of opinion sites like this bring, also CagePotato if you are looking for a writer contact me :p.
Stak40- June 17, 2011 at 6:39 am
No need for me to reiterate what everybody else said. Just wanted to support those not supporting this article.
hjdevnull- June 17, 2011 at 5:23 am
Mike Russo says there's a good reason to let someone keep punching you. Todd Duffee rolls his eyes, but is forced to agree.
skeletortoise- June 17, 2011 at 4:51 am
As a person that spends a fair amount of time writing about MMA I agree whole'heart'edly with this article. People throw heart around as if it has meaning but it really is just a lazy catchphrase. If you can't define it, you can't really get criticised for it because you could be right, right? Many seem to think so.
My main problem with it is that people use it as a compliment, almost always for who lost but put on a good fight. It's a crap consolation prize, I'd rather be remembered for just about anything, because heart instantly relegates you to the vague loser pile.
The_Dead_Cow- June 17, 2011 at 4:24 am
I will not adhere to your ban at all. A)Big Nog would be considered as the grandaddy of fighters who "have heart". B)Don't do it to yourself. You're not a standout writer here (nor anywhere else, otherwise you would sign your name like the rest of these fuks should) so it would see unwise to cripple your own ability to describe a fighter's performance in a way the general public can understand. C)I've seen fighters tap the very moment they've been mounted before any strikes, but don't mention Diego's "heart" cause that's meaningless. D)If the # of posts in the comments section is a measure of a writers skill, then you sir have a lot of "heart". Fuck you TR, and you're "heart". Assclown
Rear Naked Poke- June 17, 2011 at 12:37 am
Joey Beltran and Mike Russow, they win fights, not based on skill or conditioning but on HEART alone!
SnackDaddy- June 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm
Without heart, Forrest Griffen would be flipping burger patties at McDonalds. That said, i somewhat agree with this article. Heart can only take you so far. At best, it'll win you a three round pounding and a pat on the back like Carwin. It'll almost never win you the fight. There's a pretty thick line between courage and stupidity. I think Carwin crossed that in his last fight by choosing to continue. It's like getting hit by a truck just for the amusement of all the passerbys.
Jawbreaker_46- June 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm
I don't know about retiring the word, but it could def be reserved for some more deserving guys. Sometimes the guy that wins just isn't good enough to finish the other guy. But heart does have a place in mma journalism.
Gladheateher- June 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm
If it wasnt for heart Nick Diaz would lose more fights.
dranokills- June 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm
TR Says:

Thu, 06/16/11 - 04:21

@ golfman FYI – wrestled for 12 years
you obviously didn't have a lot of heart while wrasslin huh?
bench warmer eh?
we will keep on liking people who survive and show heart, and we will continue to use the word as well.
Now feel free to not use this all you want, as this is a free company, but don't think for an instant you speak for the majority of now, don't take it to heart boychick.
ArmFarmer- June 16, 2011 at 8:45 pm
This article blows. Heart is a huge aspect of the sport, and there are plenty of examples on both ends. BJ not coming out for the 5th rd against GSP was a lack of heart, fighters giving up their backs and getting rnc'd is a lack of heart.. guys that get the brakes beaten off of them and come into the next round grinning.. that's heart and while it's not easy to measure it's easy to identify.
SKK BB- June 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm
dumbshit article. dumbshit article. get a life.
DangadaDang- June 16, 2011 at 8:26 pm
I'm really not one to shit on a CP article but this is bullshit. If the guy just rolls over and gives up (ala Kendall Grove) we shit on him for having no heart. That makes sense. Shitting on someone for there willingness to take a beating knowing they arent goin gto win is one of the most respectable aspects of a true MMA fighter. I don't know you, but fuck you TR.
RSparrow- June 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm
Stupid ban. Heart is absolutely a characteristic of a fighter. I can't stand when fighters give up their back on purpose and essentially give up. Sanchez, Guida, Fedor, Smith, Munoz
punchy puncherson- June 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm
completely ridiculous. obviously written by a guy who's never been in a fight in his life.

heart is one of the most endearing traits a fighter can have.

you may not be able to quantify it compubox style but you sure as shit can see it and you sure as shit better appreciate it.

guys like arturo gatti will be remembered forever because of it.

ask any fighter in any gym if they'd rather have a reputation for a big heart or a big bag of tricks and i can tell you what every single one would say.

it's not lazy to say a fighter showed heart - everyone knows what it means and if you're unlucky enough to have to read about a fight it definitely helps give you more of a feel.

i want to know if they took a beating like a gutless cunt or an absolute spartan. it adds context.

how can the character you show in catching a whipping in front of millions be meaningless?

it doesn't mask the truth. who wants to hear about a fight if it sounds like it came from a textbook?

and as for wittman giving carwin his props.. damn right he should have.
noizy- June 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm
Most sports analysis is ridiculous oversimplification anyway ;)
noizy- June 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm
Is it just me, or Shane all busted up reminds me of Mark Coleman? Maybe the picture with his two daughters in the ring with one scared of his busted face.