Editorial Spotlight | There's No Such Thing as a Teammate in MMA
By Josh Long:
In just over two weeks Jon “Bones” Jones will defend his light heavyweight championship against “Suga” Rashad Evans. This fight will surely live up to its hype, as the former training partners/teammates at Gregg Jackson’s gym will square off inside the octagon.
Teammates? Dictionary.com defines a teammate as a member of the same team. While most gyms claim they are a team in reality there’s no such thing as a teammate in the world of mixed martial arts.
Most everyone who has played some type of team sport has the seen the pneumonic device for team.
Well this doesn’t apply when it comes to the UFC.
This is Mixed Martial Arts. While a fighter might train with someone at the same gym for a period of time, does it make that person a teammate?
Not necessarily, this isn’t like a pro wrestling match where you have a tag team partner to tag in and out of the match once you’re in the cage. It’s one-on-one, man vs. man.
To use a baseball analogy you’re training partner isn’t in the middle infield helping to turn double plays to get out of an inning. He may help a fighter prepare but ultimately it’s up to each individual fighter to control his or her own destiny inside the ring.
Many fighters do believe in teammates and they are constantly on TV and radio saying I don’t want to fight him because he’s a teammate.
Jon Jones went against the norm by saying he’d fight Rashad.
Although in a recent interview conducted by Jon Anik, The former champ says he would’ve only made super fights or possibly even dropped to middleweight.
There are other underlying issues in the Jones/Evans rivalry for sure, but it’s obvious that these two have legit beef.
It’s hard to say who was really the first to break from the tradition of fighting what they call a teammate but there’s one feud between former training partners that stands out and that is the bad blood between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.
The Iceman was a guy who would fight anyone, anywhere however when it came to fighting his training partner and no.1 contender, Ortiz didn’t believe in the same philosophy.
Ortiz constantly made excuses about not wanting to fight Chuck because they were friends and training partners. He also mentioned a pact between that the two would never fight; something Liddell claims never happened and even said Tito was ducking him.
Finally at UFC 47: It’s on! These two squared off with Liddell knocking Ortiz early in the second round. These two fought again fort two and a half years later with the iceman scoring a TKO late in round 3.
There aren’t many guys who stand behind the words anyone, anywhere, anytime as the iceman did. Maybe too many guys are worried about fighting a friend. If they’re a friend then friendship should be able to overcome, besides who doesn’t have a competitive rivalry with a friend that trains with them
The point here is that there are no true teammates in MMA. There are guys who train together and the corner men that will occasionally feature another fighter, but in the end there’s only two men fighting inside the cage and as much as some fighters would like to claim they have teammates, they really don’t have teammates.
A fighter has the guys in his corner but again the corner guys can only do so much and during the fight they’re outside the cage.
Some may say, “What about the ultimate fighter?” Well even during the Ultimate fighter guys on the same team end up fighting and don’t have a choice because they know if they don’t fight they’ll never get a shot at a UFC contract again.
Every fighter’s goal should be to win the title and it shouldn’t matter who they have to beat to get to that goal. Sure someone might get upset about having to fight their friend, which is understandable, but maybe they need to find another profession because sometimes fighting a training partner and friend might not be what they want, but a second chance to get the title might not come again.
Teammates just don’t exist in MMA because it’s an individual sport.