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Why “Going Out on Your Shield” Is the Most Toxic Part of MMA Culture


(Photo via WSOF)

By Matt Saccaro

Rousimar Palhares and Yushin Okami were the stars at last night’s World Series of Fighting 9. Both fighters crushed their respective cans, and got write-ups on MMA sites across the web because their “UFC veteran” status makes them more page view friendly.

While fans and pundits are lost in circular debates about Palhares’ leg lock ethics, the sport is missing out on something more serious that happened at WSOF 9: Marlon Moraes vs. Josh Rettinghouse.

This fight was a horrifically one-sided mismatch. Rettinghouse couldn’t compete with Moraes in any area of MMA. As the bout dragged on, Moraes’ leg kicks started to take their toll. Rettinghouse was reduced to hobbling and then Nick Serra-level buttscooting. Rettinghouse had little to no chance of victory by the time the “championship rounds” started. The media knew it. The referee knew it. Rettinghouse’s corner likely knew it as well. The fight went the full five rounds, but it was over long before the judges submitted scorecards. It shouldn’t have made it that far. It should’ve been stopped.

Unfortunately for Rettinghouse’s legs, such behavior is an anathema to MMA culture. MMA, the ultimate dude-bro sport, values a glamorized Spartan ethos that never considers the results of its “come back with your shield—or on it,” mantra. Fans, fighters, coaches, and everyone in between agree almost unanimously that getting knocked out is better than quitting on your stool between rounds, and that (s)napping is better than tapping. It’s better to let a fighter “go out on their shield” than stop a fight too early, robbing the winner of undisputed victory and the loser of honor in defeat.

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