The topic of friends fighting in the Octagon has been a hot one. For years, American Kickboxing Academy’s stable of welterweights (Jon Fitch, Mike Swick and, formerly, Josh Koschek) have sworn against doing battle against one another. Following his split with AKA, Koschek remained adamant about not fighting his friend and former training partner, Fitch: “That ain’t ever going to happen,” Koscheck told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ll move up a weight class or I’ll just quit… Because it doesn’t mean that much to me to fight a friend.”
Similar sentiments have been echoed in the Brazillian Blackhouse camp, which houses such greats as Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, and the Nogueira brothers. This chummy refusal to engage with stablemates has had many fans questioning the motivation of these friendly fighters.
This past Saturday, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Melvin Guillard fought on the co-main event slot of UFC 150. Though it wasn’t for the first time —the two had been teammates for three years prior to Guillard changing camps and had sparred numerous times–it was the first time the two fought with the hopes of actually beating their opponent in a sanctioned bout.Â
With much of the pre-fight hype surrounding the former teammates and their intimate knowledge of one another’s fighting habits; the question that arose was whether or not they could pull the trigger when the time was right.
And over the course of a one-minute tour-de-force that saw both fighters land potentially fight-ending strikes, it wasÂ Cowboy who emerged the victor over his friend. His victory, though impressive, still raised questions about his ability to finish a friend at the post-fight press conference.
It was a high kick that dropped Guillard and a subsequent punch that put him out for good. Cerrone rushed forward, and instead of continuing to strike the head of his downed opponent, which is the preferred method of trying to earn a victory, he decided to take Guillard’s back in an attempt to apply a rear-naked choke.
When asked about the way in which the fight ended, Cerrone stated: “It’s very hard [to finish] a teammate. Instead of going for the finishing blow, I went for the choke.” When the fight had ended, Cerrone approached Guillard and told him, “sorry brotha’.”
As fans, it is impossible for us to pass judgement on fighters who refuse to fight friends. We can’t empathize with their situation. Not only will one, most likely, come out on top of a beat down; one will inevitably be shunted down the weight division’s ladder. It isn’t only the physical act of beating someone that is tough… it’s the fact that one friend will be hindering the other’s progression as a fighter.
But when two friends do decide to fight one another, should we, the fans, expect a more aggressive finish than the one displayed by Cerrone? Do his actionsÂ influence our opinion of this controversial topic?