Simply The Best
Someone is going to say some variation of it: these bantamweights are the most exciting fighters on earth - tune in to tomorrow's UFC to see (total?) non-stop action! This will be said with sincerity. That refrain - "watch them for the excitement!" - has followed the smaller fighters across every combat sport: MMA, kickboxing, boxing, BJJ, you name it and I'll guarantee that someone is selling the lighter fighters based on ACTION! ACTION! ACTION!
And it's an absolute load of condescending shit.
On Saturday's UFC on Versus show, Dominick Cruz will defend his bantamweight championship of the world against Demetrious Johnson. Sure, it'll likely be a frenetic mad dash of brilliance but that's not why you should watch. You should watch because Cruz and Johnson are two of the most ridiculously talented fighters on earth. You should watch because Cruz is seemingly reinventing the rules for how a striker moves inside the cage. You should watch because Johnson may be the only man alive who can match Cruz move for move in a blitzkrieg of punching and kicking and slamming and scrambling. You should watch because one of these two men will stand in the center of the famed Octagon as a belt
is strapped around his waist signifying "This man is better than everyone else in the world."
We watch fighting to be entertained, no doubt, but we also watch it to answer one simple question: who is the best. Too often the lighter fighters are sold short (no pun intended) in this regard. The constant focus on the action they provide undermines what they do. It's like people are saying "Who cares about winning and losing, the fight will be cool to watch!" Yes, it probably will, but that should take a backseat to the important fact that Cruz and Johnson are amazing at fighting. They both deserve to main event on Saturday night. No, maybe not in the sense that they're big draws or anything, but in the very real sense that that Cruz is the best bantamweight on the planet and dammed if Johnson doesn't have a good chance to successfully challenge that assertion.
Just as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva get sold on being the greatest on earth, so too should Cruz. The incredible action should be the sizzle not the steak. Dominick Cruz is the best alive. Johnson is a deserving challenger. On Saturday, watch and find out why.
Mike Coughlin is the host of FIVE STAR RADIO. He is not the best in the world.