So About The Suplex Knockout at Iron Will…
The Highlight of ONE: Iron Will Has Been Overturned
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 24, 2018
You remember this little number don’t you. ONE: Iron Will was chock full of fun moments, but this may have been the best. Kritsada Kongsrichai took Robin Catalan on the ride of a lifetime and it instantly made headlines.
However over the weekend, it was announced by ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong that this spectacular knockout would be overturned. Why? Because without any of us knowing, the promotion decided to ban suplexes of any kind resulting in a DQ for Srichai. Understandably, many were disappointed.
The following is the post made by Chatri regarding the decision. Let’s break it down a bit.
DQ'd for suplexing?
— John Hyon Ko (@JHKMMA) March 25, 2018
Straight off the bat, it should be noted that fighters had been made aware of the rule change prior to the start of Iron Will. So despite us not knowing about it, the rule was in place.
However, the most shocking part was not that the fans and general public were completely unaware of such a rule. Instead, it was that ONE staff and the commission serving the promotion that evening appeared to be out of the loop as well. The disqualification wasn’t handed down until the post made by Chatri roughly 36 hours after the fact. So I ask, how could a promotion be that ill-equipped to handle a situation immediately affecting one of it’s fighters?
Which brings me to my point regarding his Facebook post.
While I certainly believe safety is and should be of the utmost priority in MMA, how does erasing a victory almost two days afterward help anything? Clearly the commission and those who should be in charge of enforcing these hastily made rules were completely unprepared to deal with the predicament. And without them, what real safety precautions are being made in regards to this rule. Does a disqualification erase the damage Catalan suffered when he was gronk-spiked onto the canvas? No. So what’s the point? Or is there one?
No, We Should Not Be Banning Suplexes
ONE Championship has built themselves up as the only true martial arts promotion in the world. They distance themselves from MMA and never use the word fighter: instead referring to them as athletes. For the most part, I have no problem with that marketing angle. It’s unique given the current climate in the game and if it sells tickets in Asia, have a ball.
However, the contradiction here is a very interesting one. Martial arts is a very pure concept and one that the promotion has grasped onto in response to the ever growing insult parade we see in the UFC.
But inside the cage, pureness must also be maintained. Meaning, there should be no restraints when it comes to legitimate weapons used in martial arts. Keeping that concept in mind, let’s look at the suplex. Brutal in nature, but effective in application. In this particular example at Iron Will, we’ve got Srichai on the back of Catalan looking to bring the fight to the mat where he can stuff his fist down the Filo’s mouth until he’s unconscious. Not a very sophisticated way of looking at things I understand, but true nonetheless.
So, is how he handles taking his opponent to the ground really the most dangerous part of that sequence? Or would it be the part where Catalan survives and is then brutalized with heavy punches and cutting elbows until the ref mercifully steps in?
There’s nothing safe about a suplex.
But then again, there’s nothing safe about MMA.
The Line Between Safety and Disruption
ONE can hide behind the martial arts aspect of the sport all they want but in the end, MMA is what they are trading on. And as long as they allow two men to walk into a cage with the intention of putting the other to sleep in an unnatural environment, certain risks must be made.
They have notably been at the forefront of innovations in weight cutting and their efforts have been well-documented and well-received. In that aspect, their safety record has taken an excellent step in the right direction.
However with the latest announcement that suplexes are no longer legal under ONE rules, are they making too much headway? It’s one thing to attempt to eliminate the dangerous practice of draining your body and pushing your organs to near failure in order to make some arbitrary weight for twenty minutes: it’s another to take weapons away from combatants.
This is fighting. Regardless of whatever frills a promotion puts on it to appeal to mass audiences, it’s a brutal game. Fighter’s know that and so do fans.
So why take away a legitimate weapon in martial arts? It simply doesn’t make sense. And in a weekend where fans had difficulty finding a stream to watch the biggest show in ONE history, clarity would be a nice change.