Ever wonder how the UFC’s sweet sweet bonus system affects a fighter’s thinking during matches? While it’s pretty normal to imagine guys going into fights thinking about which bonus they wanna shoot for, this is the first time I’ve heard of a fighter switching his finish halfway through the act to heighten his chances of winning. Here’s Joe Lauzon talking about his vicious finish of Curt Warburton:
“I knew that I hurt him bad with the punches standing,” recalled Lauzon. “I hit him with a right hand then a left hook, I hit him with some really good punches on the ground and a super solid knee to the body, and I feel like I could have just kept punching away and got the TKO. But during that whole exchange I had a split second thing where I was like ‘I’m not gonna get Knockout of the Night’ with this because I’m having to finish the guy on the ground. So I’m gonna try and get the submission.’ He was kind of out of it on the ground, and I’m like ‘you know what? I’m gonna take the arm.’”
You may have noticed Joe slinging submissions like he’s out to tear shit off, but it’s not just a mean streak that has him torquing limbs like lug nuts:
“I think I’ve always had killer instinct, but there are times in jiu-jitsu and grappling and things like that where I get a submission, and I attack, but then I think, okay, I’ve got this guy, he’s mine,” he said. “And then I go slow with it because I’m looking out for the guy. I’m not looking to completely destroy someone’s shoulder or ruin their career or anything like that. But in the Sam Stout fight, I went for the shoulder lock, I thought I had him, I started going slow, and then he squirmed out and I ended up losing the fight. But I think if I had just gone in and tried to tear his shoulder off, I think I would have won that fight. It’s kind of a weird spot.”
You’ll never hear of a striker going easy on his punches to make sure he doesn’t hurt an opponent. Submissions are hard enough to lock in without having to worry yourself over the well-being of your opponent. That’s the ref’s job. Whether they do it well or not is another ball of wax, but it doesn’t change what the fighter needs to do.