Submitted by Sports Nickel on Mar 16, 2012
Would you fight your friend? Seriously think about that question for a minute…
It is a simple question, and one would think a simple answer would follow: No. Why would anyone fight one of their friends? That’s not something a friend would do. A very simple answer indeed…unless you are talking about mixed martial arts.
This question has been brought up before, when fans were clamoring for Anderson Silva to move up to fight his friend and training partner Lyoto Machida when Machida held the Light Heavyweight Championship, and when Dana White expressed interest in seeing Josh Koscheck take on his good friend, Jon Fitch. In both scenarios the friends said they would not fight each other, no matter what. And both times White was clearly disappointed.
Well, it has been thrust into the limelight once more, this time by Anderson Silva. Silva sat down with SporTV, where they informed him that Dana White has no time for this “friend not fighting friend” business, to which Silva replied:
“It’s funny to say that, right? If that was the case, I would like to ask him if he’d like to split the UFC with Lorenzo, each would have their own show fighting for audience and sponsorship and everything else that involves their business. They’re friends, partners…What I think is that friends shouldn’t fight. Dana doesn’t fight. He sells well the fight, he’s a good promoter, but he isn’t a fighter. I have nothing against Dana, I admire him, but he doesn’t know what this is, and he can’t say that two friends should fight.”
Silva made it clear that relationships between teammates goes beyond the training room floor, and he doesn’t think he, or anyone else, should fight someone he’s around daily.
“We spend more time together than with our own families. We share the pains, the frustrations, and just because he wants to sell a fight that he thinks it would be cool and that the public would like to see two companions fighting. He wants to match a fight with two friends? That’s impossible, it only happens with people who aren’t real friends. We have a philosophy in our team that, regardless of two being from the same weight class and the same objective of being UFC Champions, we know that this won’t happen. MMA is not a collective sport. It’s not normal for me to fight a guy that I live with everyday. It’s natural to him, because he doesn’t fight and hasn’t even got pinched once.”
Excellent points by Silva, and I’m inclined to agree with him. But there is another side to this coin. A side with equal arguments as to why a teammate and friend should fight another. When Dana White caught wind of Silva’s comments, he retorted with his own reasoning as to why they could, and should battle it out in the cage.
“This isn’t baseball or football. They aren’t a team. They train together, go out together, but they aren’t a team that plays together. I’d like for Anderson to tell me if I’m wrong: he has the belt, the fame, the money, and it is because of that, that there are many guys who’d like to be Anderson Silva, especially those inside his gym and are friends of his. Many friends of his would love to have that belt and they should fight for it. If they have to fight, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like each other, that they can’t be friends. It’s business, it’s what they do for a living.”
“If this was something I and Lorenzo would have to fight, we would. If Lorenzo has the title and I’d have to fight him, it’s what would happen. It’s not personal, it’s only to see who’s best. Imagine two famous teams in Brazil, such as Flamengo and Corinthians. Imagine if they would refuse to play against each other because they’re friends, because they like each other. ‘We don’t want to play you, we’d hurt your feelings.’ Oh Anderson, come on…”
A great stance by White, and nearly everything he said has merit. If this is a true sport, why shouldn’t friends be able to battle it out to see who’s best? And the point about other teammates wanting what Silva has is most likely true. Who wouldn’t want to hold the belt and be considered one of the top fighters in the world, and get everything that comes along with it?
Who wouldn’t, indeed.
But where White fails to drive his point home is when he says this isn’t a team sport, that these guys aren’t on a team, but then he compares it to two teams not playing each other because of “feelings.” That’s right, these guys aren’t competing as a team, but that’s not the point Silva was trying to convey. Silva isn’t saying he wouldn’t fight anyone he knows, he’s saying he wouldn’t fight a friend. Fighting a friend could destroy a friendship (See: Rashad Evans / Jon Jones). White wants to compare it to team sports (or not compare, whichever suits his purpose), but in those team sports you aren’t trying to physically harm your opponent. In mixed martial arts, more than “feelings” get hurt. If you go outside with a basketball and challenge your best friend to a pick-up game, the loser doesn’t come away with a busted nose, blackened eye, and deep gashes. He doesn’t have to ride in an ambulance after the game because he was knocked unconscious or because he didn’t want to tap to an Armbar.
That’s the difference. In this sport you physically harm your opponent, you don’t put a ball through a hoop. You may not want to cause pain, but that’s the outcome of head kicks and right crosses. And in this sport you have to do whatever it takes to win. Could you go out there and smash your friend’s face in to attain a golden belt, knowing full well he has a wife and kids at home? A wife and kids that pray every time he goes out there that he doesn’t get seriously injured and comes back safe and sound.
Could you honestly do that? Think long and hard before you answer, because that guy, the one that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it, his well being depends on it.
If it were me, I don’t think I could, but there is no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, I think it’s up to the team itself to decide such things, not the promoters.http://www.opposingviews.com/i/sports/fighting-friends-not-fighting
Pretty decent opinion article, although I don't know about the credibility of the quotes.