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[VIDEO] MMA Fighter Taps Out Rather Than Continue Hurting His Opponent — Inspirational or Cowardly?

(Via AXS TV.)

We’ve discussed at length the “go out on your shield” mentality that permeates MMA (and all combat sports, truly) and its toxic relationship with the sport’s quest for mainstream appeal. While we all know that MMA fighters are grown-ass men and women who are fully capable of protecting themselves — and that the decision to allow a fight to continue rests firmly on the shoulders of the losing fighter, his/her corner, and the presiding referee — there have been multiple instances in the recent past where all three of these parties have failed miserably to do so. Call it pride, or incompetence, or whatever you will.

But what should we make of it when a losing fighter’s *opponent* voluntarily gives up to spare him from a further beating?

That’s precisely the issue being raised by an amateur fight between Mike Pantangco and Jeremy Rasner that transpired at a Prison Fight League event, ironically, last week. Uncovered by the folks at Inside MMA and posted on r/MMA earlier today, Pantangco vs. Rasner might feature the strangest end to an MMA fight we’ve seen since the Leg Tap Death Touch.

You see, Pantangco was thoroughly outclassing his opponent that night, battering Rasner on the feet throughout the first round of their flyweight tilt. It got so bad at one point, apparently, that rather than continue teeing off on his game but overmatched opponent, Pantangco opted to tap out and grant Rasner the victory. A bizarre choice to say the least, and one that begs the question: Is there such a thing as *too much* sportsmanship in MMA?

Pantangco later explained the reasoning behind his forfeit in an interview with Inside MMA:

I just feel that there’s no point in fighting him because he didn’t train against me and I didn’t train for him and I just feel like we’re amateur fighters. We don’t get money. We don’t paid. And I know that the only [way] I’m going to finish the fight is [for] him to go to the hospital or get hurt. I just feel terrible so I’m just going to give him the win. 

Some fans are calling Pantangco’s act of mercy the ultimate embodiment of the respect that all fighters are supposed to have, while others are asking why he couldn’t have simply submitted Rasner rather than continue punishing him on the feet, sparing him a trip to the hospital and only temporary pain in the process.

It’s an interesting debate, to say the least; while it’s hard to fault Pantangco’s selfless act in theory, especially in an era where we trash a fighter for not immediately recognizing/backing off when his opponent is unconscious or defenseless, it’s even harder to believe that being an overly compassionate person can do anything but work against you in a sport as inherently violent as MMA. Guys like Lyoto Machida have become notorious for their self-control in delivering follow up punches to a clearly unconscious opponent, but Machida also typically saves his self-control until after his opponent is unconscious, or at the very least, not walking towards him with their hands raised.

As an MMA fighter, Pantangco probably shouldn’t be afraid to hurt his opponent, no matter what level they are competing at. You don’t see many professional swimmers who are afraid to step in the pool (unless you’re Matt Serra, in which case you’ve seen at least one), or hockey players with aspirations of becoming a professional model, etc. And by giving up, Pantangco essentially robbed his opponent of a chance at a true victory, and the audience of a fight they paid good (decent) money to watch. They had only fought for one round, after all, and we guarantee that Rasner (and most MMA fighters) wouldn’t be afraid to hurt Pantangco had the tables been turned.

But what do you think, Nation? Should Pantangco be applauded for his restraint, or condemned for being too much of a coward to finish what he started? Make your case in the comments section.

-J. Jones

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