After both Josh Koscheck and Mo Lawal's wins in recent weeks, commenters on message boards, Twitter and right here on Cagewriter complained about the fighters winning by using too much wrestling. Every time I hear this criticism, I am befuddled.
Both of these men were high-level wrestlers before turning to MMA. Koscheck was a Division I NCAA champ at Edinboro while Lawal, an All-American at Oklahoma State, was on the U.S. national team, competing at an international level. Why wouldn't they use the martial art that they practiced for much of their lives?
Is it boring, or is it that not enough MMA fans get wrestling?
"I think they are not as educated as they could be," says former Division II national champion and current UFC number one heavyweight contender Shane Carwin. "I see a lot of technically great grappling matches and you can almost always hear someone scream, 'stand them up.' And yet what you are seeing is a technical masterpiece. I think in time people will begin to appreciate all aspects."
As a longtime wrestling fan, I tend to agree with Carwin. Many times, what others see as "lay and pray," I see as two athletes fighting for position. I would rather watch a technical bout like that than a brawl where two fighters are swinging wildly but rarely landing any punches.
I realize I'm in the minority, but I don't want to stay that way. I want every MMA fan out there to appreciate wrestling's place in our sport. I'm inviting you now to a dual meet.
I'll be at Midlands, National Duals, the NCAA championships and a handful of Missouri and Northwestern dual meets. Either come sit with me at a meet or hit me up on Twitter while you are at a match near you.
Allow me to share the beauty of the sport that reeled me in when I was 11. If you still hate it and whine about not enough knockouts after that, fine. But before you ever type the words "lay and pray" again, give wrestling a chance. You just may find that you like it.