Patrick Cote and Ricardo Almeida squared off in the most important fight of their MMA careers Saturday night at UFC 86. With UFC President Dana White already stating that the winner would be second in line after Yushin Okami to face Current Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva for his title, you would have thought that they would have fought as though their lives depended on it.
Instead, MMA fans were “treated” to an awkward and uninteresting Split Decision. The fight was close, but neither of the two seemed to fight with any sense of urgency. Almeida easily won the 1stRound, however the 2ndRound was up in the air. Cote was the “aggressor” in winning the 3rdRound.
“The game plan was to (have) good footwork and sprawl and brawl,” Cote said at the post-fight press conference. “I wanted to take my time and I knew that any mistake that I did, I would lose the fight for sure. If I go to the ground with this guy, you’re dead. He’s one of the best in the world in Jiu Jitsu.”
The uncertainty of the 2ndRound is what seemed to have cost Almeida the fight, although after the fight he wasn’t even able to decisively say why he lost a 28-29, 29-28, 29-28 Split Decision.
“No matter what I say, it is always going to be biased. I have to go and watch the (replay of) fight,” Almeida said. “It wasn’t a great fight. I thought I dominated the 1stRound, then I had the incident with the gloves between rounds and something happened mentally there, physically, maybe both.”
“I was just dead in the 2ndRound, just very, very tired,” Almeida added. “I thought the 3rdRound I boxed him good. I hit him with a couple jabs. I took him down. Even when he got on top, it was because I went for a guillotine.”
Regardless, it still wasn’t enough. And even though it seemed that Almeida pushed the pace for the majority of the fight, the judges saw it differently. And that is the risk you run when you don’t finish fights. Almeida may have known it before, but he definitely knows it now.
“Actually there was 16 seconds left and I heard my corner saying, I could have just stayed on top and hit him with a couple punches,” expressed Almeida. “But because the fight was so boring I just wanted to go for a submission and he ended up finishing the fight on top. I think that might have turned the tide a little his way.”
All judges seem to score fights differently. Some focus more on activity, some on Octagon control, some on takedowns. With the opportunity that was in front of these two fighters, they shouldn’t have let this fight get to that point. Fans shouldn’t have had to boo throughout the fight. Fight to finish or not to finish…decisions, decisions.