Stepping into a UFC octagon, where money-making opportunities are sporadic, sometimes means putting friendships aside for a chance to earn the almighty dollar.
In the real world, it's probably not a good look punching our besties in the face. However, its a whole different ballgame when it comes to mixed martial arts. UFC President Dana White thinks it's ridiculous for fighters to turn down fights against their friends, and I would have to agree with his assessment.
MacDonald vs St-Pierre in 2014?
"Why are you in this? You're in this to become the world champion. I guarantee you if Rory looks at (expletive) GSP's bank account, he'll want to beat the (expletive) out of him. That's what it's about," White told MMAWeekly.com in April. "This is the fight business, not the friend business."
The way I see it, mixed martial arts is a competition and you're simply competing to see who the better fighter is. It has nothing to do with disliking or hating a person, and everything to do with testing your skills against a top-quality athlete.
We recently saw Rashad Evans step in against his former teammate, Jon "Bones" Jones, as they put their friendship aside to give the crowd an entertaining 25-minute battle. That's the way it should be.
"Friends" who train in the same camps should put it all on the line and not let emotions get the best of them while they are in the cage.
When it's all over, they can pat each other on the back, shake hands and go out for a drink later that evening. It's all about competing as an athlete, and being someone's friend shouldn't get in the way of showcasing one's skills on the grandest stage.
As Rory MacDonald climbs the welterweight ranks, his training partner, Georges St-Pierre, may stand between him and the title. He's going to have to make a tough choice when the time comes, as he can lock horns with his mentor or letting friendship get in the way of a fight.
"I'm not interested in fighting him. There are a lot of welterweights. I don't think we have to do it now. In two years, who knows? Maybe I'll go to middleweight," St-Pierre told reporters at UFC 145 earlier this year, as reported by Yahoo! Sports. "He's a friend, like a brother for me. I just hope the best for him and I know one day he'll be world champion."
MacDonald On The Rise
MacDonald reflected that sentiment. "It's like this, Georges has seniority at our gym, Tristar. Georges is a friend of mine. We're training partners together. I don't know about you, but you probably don't like to beat up your best friend, cut him, watch him bleed, cry, lose money, all that stuff, it sucks," said MacDonald.
With MacDonald currently ranked No. 15 in the world in the welterweight ranks and rapidly closing in on the top ten, a fight against No. 1-ranked Georges St-Pierre may be less than two years away.
I would liken the situation to a hockey fight. In the NHL, enforcers are usually friends who have respect for one another, but they put their friendships aside to square off and trade blows in order to do their job and entertain the crowd for a few fun moments.
Usually you see them patting each other on the back following the tilt, as there's no feelings or dislike or hatred. It's all about doing your job and putting on a show.
Should MMA fighters be forced to fight their friends? Let me know in the comments.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of MMA. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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