MMA  > General MMA  > fighting friends/teamates
March 31, 2011, 09:34 PM
OK, I've been reading a lot about this topic.
And opinions vary... obviously!

So 've read one article that makes sense to me. it's from MMA Fighting.com:

http://tinyurl.com/4575xo f


I'll save you time and put it here.
I just put the link of someone wants to see the source... the site is worth a visit anyway for any MMA fan! ;)
March 31, 2011  09:34 PM ET

If UFC president Dana White has said it once, he's said it a thousand times: MMA is not a team sport.

It's a sport that's all about individual success and failure. It's about two men locked in a violent struggle for money and status, and there's not enough of either to go around.

This, of course, is the inexorable logic of the fight promoter, who stands to profit handsomely if he can convince friends, teammates, and training partners to forego all other loyalties and duke it out in the cage. But then, the promoter doesn't have to actually get in there and knock his best friend unconscious.

As UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub put it, "This isn't basketball. It's not like Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird playing each other and being all buddy-buddy. Somebody's getting fu**ed up."

To some, it seems like an easy call to make. If you're in this sport to be the champion ??? and if you're in it for any other reason, you've chosen the wrong line of work ??? then you ought to be willing to fight whoever stands in your way. As White has explained on multiple occasions, fighters have a limited window in which to earn as much money and prestige as possible, and while friendship is nice, it's not going to pay your bills.

The trouble is, while it's the individual who does the work on fight night, it's the coaches and training partners who make success possible. MMA may not be a team sport, but it's also not something you can do by yourself.

March 31, 2011  09:35 PM ET

"When you go into your gym, you want to feel safe," said UFC featherweight Leonard Garcia. "You want to feel like, everything that I show these guys is so that I can help them get better. If I show them a move, I don't want to be worried that they can learn to counter it if we fight some day."

Greg Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico ??? where Garcia has trained for years ??? is known for its prohibition against teammate-on-teammate bouts. But after longstanding team member Rashad Evans and relative new addition Jon Jones agreed to fight for the UFC light heavyweight title recently, it caused a stir among what's long been regarded as one of MMA's most tight-knit and consistently successful gyms.

Part of the reason for that success, Garcia said, was that the fighters there felt comfortable enough to help each other improve as much as possible in training -- what Jackson calls a "cooperative, competitive dynamic." In order to get good training, you need good sparring partners giving you their best every day. And in order for them to do that, they need to know you won't use their own tricks against them some day.

Only now that the line's been crossed at Jackson's MMA, Garcia said, it's hard to predict how it might affect the gym atmosphere.

"I don't care what anyone says, if you think there's a chance you might fight a guy somewhere down the road, you hold back," said Garcia. "That's something we never had at our gym. Nobody held back. I'm interested to see how guys react to each other now after this big announcement. I'd hate for it to tear the gym apart, and I don't think that it should, but there's that possibility."

March 31, 2011  09:36 PM ET

But there are teammates who have managed to meet in the Octagon without the walls of their gym crashing down around them. Take Evan Dunham and Tyson Griffin, for example. The two lightweights were sparring partners at Randy Couture's Xtreme Couture gym in Las Vegas when they got offered a fight against one another at UFC 115 last June.

Dunham, who was the newer of the two team members, said he immediately called up Griffin to ask him his thoughts on the situation before accepting the bout.

"If he would have said, 'Hey, guys at Randy's don't fight each other,' I would have taken that stance too," said Dunham. "But he was cool with it, I was cool with it, so it worked out."

Of course, as soon as he took the fight Dunham realized there was an obvious problem. They couldn't both continue to train at the same gym ??? not without it getting incredibly uncomfortable and impractical, anyway. But since Dunham was the new kid on the mats, he knew what he had to do.

"I'd been at Randy's for three or four fights at that point, but I knew Tyson had been there a lot longer than I had. In my book, seniority rules in that aspect. It wasn't easy for me to step away because I knew that Randy's was where I'd be able to prepare for Tyson the best, but at the same time I realized that we both couldn't train there. Me being the newer guy, I felt it was right for me to step away."

Dunham would go on to win the fight via split decision, but he and Griffin both resumed training side by side afterwards. While he admitted it was "a little bit weird" to be back training with the guy he'd just fought, in the long run, Dunham said, it wasn't so bad.

"Actually, looking back on it, it was a great experience. When it happened, Tyson and I were more training partners than friends. ...But after it was all said and done, I'm glad I did it. Tyson and I have trained quite a bit together and I actually cornered his brother along with him in his last fight. I think we actually became friends and it strengthened our relationship as training partners."

March 31, 2011  09:36 PM ET

Then again, there's a difference between fighting someone who's just a sparring partner and fighting someone who's a friend. That's why Grudge Training Center coach Trevor Wittman said he encouraged Evans to take the fight against Jones, but would make no such recommendation for the two UFC heavyweights in his own gym ??? Brendan Schaub and Shane Carwin.

"Those guys are like brothers," Wittman said. "It's not just like they beat each other up in the gym and go home. To them, I think it's more personal. It's more like, I don't want to boost myself off your career. If your career goes downhill off of what I do, that's a big thing to deal with."

Schaub echoed the sentiment, pointing out that he and Carwin have no problem roughing each other up in the gym as long as it's part of an attempt to make the other guy better. Pain is the medium they work in, after all. But stepping on a friend in order to gain a foothold in the rankings?

"It's easy to tell other people they should do it when you're not the one who has to get in there and fight your best friend," Schaub said.

But it's not always a clear dichotomy between best friend and enemy or training partner and stranger. Sometimes, as in the case of Antoni Hardonk's fight with UFC heavyweight Pat Barry at UFC 104, the lines get blurred.

March 31, 2011  09:36 PM ET

Hardonk and Barry had trained together in Holland over the years, and Hardonk even cornered Barry in a kickboxing match or two before Barry turned his attention toward MMA. Then, in 2009, the two signed to fight each other in the Octagon, and in order to get himself into the proper mental state to fight a guy he knew and liked, Hardonk had to do something slightly out of character.

"I didn't touch gloves before the fight, which was something some people didn't understand and I think some people even got upset about it at the time," he said. "But for me, I wanted to create a little more distance because I know how Patrick is. He likes to smile, tell jokes, give hugs. That's fine after the fight, but not before the fight or during the fight. I needed to let him know: here we are, we're here to fight."

Hardonk lost that bout via second round TKO, but afterwards, he said, he and Barry went right back to being friends.

"I still like Patrick, and I think Patrick still likes me. ...I try to have the mentality where I fight like a shark. A shark swims through the ocean and grabs a fish, but it's nothing personal. It doesn't matter if the fish fights back or if it's easy prey, it's just the shark's job. That's how I always tried to approach it. I try never to have emotions in fighting. It's not personal."

As for the fighters whose objection is based less on the emotional bonds of friendship and more on the practical demands of the gym structure? That's something the sport is still working out. In boxing they often get around the problem by using paid sparring partners who are in it strictly for the cash, rather than teammates who are helping one another prepare out of a sense of duty and compassion.

But as Greg Jackson pointed out, just because the mercenary system works for boxing, and just because that sport doesn't regularly face this specific problem, does that mean it's necessarily the direction MMA wants to gravitate towards?

"I think I speak for all of MMA when I say, we don't want much of the boxing world in MMA," said Jackson. "That's how I feel about it, anyway."

March 31, 2011  09:38 PM ET

OK, now it's all me...

The part I put in bold is what makes sense to me.
With this highly competitive world, you need to know you can trust the guy in front of you will teach everything he knows. And you need to feel comfortable teaching that guy everything you know.
Because if you think you will fight him in the (near) future, you probably won't show nor be shown... which will obviously go against getting to be the best you can be!

Comment #7 has been removed
April 1, 2011  01:11 AM ET

I know its obviously different from guys fighting in the ufc but in highschool my group of friends would get together and durig bbqs or parties wed having boxing matches. None of us were of course trained but wed bloody eachother up then have some beers after. In a more formal setting I did judo in college and had to go against team mates in tournaments. Its different bc we weren't professional athletes but it was 1 on 1 combat sport matches between friends. We had no problem going against eachother and just knowing myself if I did train at say AKA I would have no problem going against training partners. I respect people who wouldn't want too but I think people make a much bigger deal out of it than it is and am surprised that literally no one in any of the major organizations has done so until the Rashad/Jones fight was announced.

April 1, 2011  01:04 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

I know its obviously different from guys fighting in the ufc but in highschool my group of friends would get together and durig bbqs or parties wed having boxing matches. None of us were of course trained but wed bloody eachother up then have some beers after. In a more formal setting I did judo in college and had to go against team mates in tournaments. Its different bc we weren't professional athletes but it was 1 on 1 combat sport matches between friends. We had no problem going against eachother and just knowing myself if I did train at say AKA I would have no problem going against training partners. I respect people who wouldn't want too but I think people make a much bigger deal out of it than it is and am surprised that literally no one in any of the major organizations has done so until the Rashad/Jones fight was announced.

I dunno, Pete.
I know I would not throw a vicious punch if at the end of my fist were a good friend of mine.
I also know I would not want someone who might fight me watch and see me training on my weaknesses. This would be me basically giving my opponent a map of the mine...

...which is exactly what we've been talking about Rashad & Jones. I think it is ridiculous that Greg Jackson gets to train Jones exactly on what he knows Rashad doesn't like or is weak. it is indeed a stab in the back by someone who is supposed to be your mentor. And if you can't trust your mentor, you are indeed SOL.

April 1, 2011  01:51 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

I dunno, Pete.I know I would not throw a vicious punch if at the end of my fist were a good friend of mine.I also know I would not want someone who might fight me watch and see me training on my weaknesses. This would be me basically giving my opponent a map of the mine......which is exactly what we've been talking about Rashad & Jones. I think it is ridiculous that Greg Jackson gets to train Jones exactly on what he knows Rashad doesn't like or is weak. it is indeed a stab in the back by someone who is supposed to be your mentor. And if you can't trust your mentor, you are indeed SOL.

If Jackson could only train one of them it should be Rashad, not Jones. Isn't Jones relatively new to his gym, where as Rashad has been there for years? If I remember right Rashad choice to leave but if there was a choice to be made by Jackson then Rashad shouldv been his pick to train.

April 1, 2011  02:06 PM ET

Jackson should have not allowed this go get this far. He remained quiet up until after Rashad left... which is a mistake.
But IMO he did this because he obviously preferred to stick with the golden goose in Jon.

And I agree with you. If anyone had to leave, should have been the young one.

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April 1, 2011  03:00 PM ET

it doesn't really matter IMO.
Unlike Boxing, the guys in your training camp are people you won't fight in the future.
In Boxing, they are paid professionals that will help you only for that fight.

MMA is different. You should be able to trust them.

April 6, 2011  12:29 PM ET

So what about if your friend holds the title and you also have cleaned out the division? It should be an easy choice, tell your friend I am sorry after the match for hitting him and move on. Like Dana said Jones isnt paying his bills. If your the champ then you have more opportunities to make more money than just being another fighter.

April 6, 2011  04:14 PM ET
QUOTE(#16):

So what about if your friend holds the title and you also have cleaned out the division? It should be an easy choice, tell your friend I am sorry after the match for hitting him and move on. Like Dana said Jones isnt paying his bills. If your the champ then you have more opportunities to make more money than just being another fighter.

BS.
This is not basketeball that you move to a new team and have to play against your old team for the championship (like Mavs & Suns a couple years ago).
You are punching someone with bad intentions.
You know what are the shortcomings of your friend and you are showing it to the world.

Rua & Wandi
Nog & JDS
Silva & Machida
Just to name a few. Those are friends. those are guys who could be champs if the other weren't on the way.
None of them minded passing up title shots. NONE.
If you are that good that you cleared the division and your champ-friend is the only one you didn't fight, I bet you get a good contract also.

April 6, 2011  04:57 PM ET
QUOTE(#17):

BS.This is not basketeball that you move to a new team and have to play against your old team for the championship (like Mavs & Suns a couple years ago). You are punching someone with bad intentions. You know what are the shortcomings of your friend and you are showing it to the world.Rua & WandiNog & JDSSilva & MachidaJust to name a few. Those are friends. those are guys who could be champs if the other weren't on the way.None of them minded passing up title shots. NONE.If you are that good that you cleared the division and your champ-friend is the only one you didn't fight, I bet you get a good contract also.

I disagree, for one Machida and Silva are in two different weight class, second Rua would whoop on Wandi and Wandi is not a contender, third Nog is washed up and would get destroyed JDS. Bad examples. I applaud Evans for fighting Jones because he is not going to have his career shadowed because his friend is the champion. They are both professional fighters and fight for a living and its part of the job description. Evans is not going through life wondering what if and not secure his legacy as a mma fighter.

April 7, 2011  09:13 AM ET
QUOTE(#18):

I disagree, for one Machida and Silva are in two different weight class, second Rua would whoop on Wandi and Wandi is not a contender, third Nog is washed up and would get destroyed JDS. Bad examples. I applaud Evans for fighting Jones because he is not going to have his career shadowed because his friend is the champion. They are both professional fighters and fight for a living and its part of the job description. Evans is not going through life wondering what if and not secure his legacy as a mma fighter.

boy oh boy, you are as dumb as I figured.

First of all, re-turd Wandi & ruma I mentioned were in Pride.
Second, When Nog was a contender (fights with Mir, Cain & Randy), JDS said clearly he was happy to let Nog fight and as long as he was a contender, JDS would not fight for the belt.

Third: Remember when the Spider was fighting Griffin? Yes, he could have moved up in WeightClass, but he avoided because of Machida & lil' Nog.

So all my 3 examples are true, and your stupid arse comment as usual wrong.

Moving over to Rashad & Bones, you are also completely forgetting they both said that if Rashad was to be the champ, Bones would move up to HW thus avoiding fighting him. Simple. Problem solved.

Why you keep your ignorant comments without base on reality, I will start ignoring you from now on. Because you simply add nothing to a conversation but wrong biased point that benefit no one.

 
April 7, 2011  10:13 AM ET
QUOTE(#19):

boy oh boy, you are as dumb as I figured.First of all, re-turd Wandi & ruma I mentioned were in Pride.Second, When Nog was a contender (fights with Mir, Cain & Randy), JDS said clearly he was happy to let Nog fight and as long as he was a contender, JDS would not fight for the belt.Third: Remember when the Spider was fighting Griffin? Yes, he could have moved up in WeightClass, but he avoided because of Machida & lil' Nog. So all my 3 examples are true, and your stupid arse comment as usual wrong.Moving over to Rashad & Bones, you are also completely forgetting they both said that if Rashad was to be the champ, Bones would move up to HW thus avoiding fighting him. Simple. Problem solved.Why you keep your ignorant comments without base on reality, I will start ignoring you from now on. Because you simply add nothing to a conversation but wrong biased point that benefit no one.

See that???s your problem Roni your knowledge is still stuck in the pride years just like Fedors skills. You need to evolve your knowledge if you want to keep up with us young bucks. I can tell you dont read todays news because Anderson Silva said 185 is his home and he has no plans on moving up to 205.

When I comment I tend to talk about with whats going on in todays game not 6yrs ago. In todays game Rua was the champion and Wandi is not a contender so why would they fight? JDS doesn???t have to fight Nog when they are bigger and better fish to fry. When Nog was taking on Mir, Cain and Randy, JDS was coming up and wasnt in any position to fight any of those guys. He was new to the league trying to gain experience.

Again you used poor examples of team mates fighting each other while I would have used Kos and Fitch as a much better example. I think its funny how you bash on my comments and said your going to ignore me because you hate when I call you out on your bs MMA knowledge.

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