The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its way over to Toronto for UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort this past Saturday. The first fight featured on the pay-per-view card was a featherweight match up between tough veteran Cub Swanson and a touted young Brazilian, Charles Oliveira.
Commentators, educated fans, and odds makers all held a relative consensus that Swanson would most likely lose the fight due to the Brazilian’s well rounded skill set. Swanson flipped the script though and landed a body shot followed by a left hook that eventually left Oliveira on the canvas covering his face and the referee intervening to stop the fight. Though this might just seem like an upset victory for Swanson, a closer look may reveal something more.
While in the world of mixed martial arts everybody can get caught with a big punch or a quick submission, it was the way in which the fight ended that reeked of a fixed fight. Oliveira took an unusual amount of time after the body shot and punch to drop to the floor and cover up his face. Typically, if you are rocked and almost out you don’t take that long to drop.
Furthermore, when Oliveira fell to the mat he was still defending himself, yet the referee intervened before Swanson could finish the job. Moreover, even though Oliveira was clearly not brutally knocked out he remained on the floor with arms and legs spread out for an uncharacteristic amount of time. He was still seemingly out cold even when Joe Rogan was interviewing Swanson.
I have watched the UFC since its inception and even the most brutal KOs do not typically result in a fighter being attended to for this amount of time, which only added to my doubt. From the point when Oliveira dropped suddenly in a delayed fashion up until he was escorted out of the ring, it all seemed like an over-the-top acting job by the Brazilian and less like a convincing KO by the seasoned veteran.
After watching the replay several times, every angle makes the fight’s ending seem that much more suspicious. Even color commentator Joe Rogan was trying as hard as possible to justify why the Brazilian went down when he did.
Although a fixed fight in this case is purely speculation, I think it is important that these situations do not get naively pushed aside. Combat sports have been plagued by underworld involvement in the past and it would be a mistake to think that the integrity of mixed martial arts is immune to corruption today.
Did anyone else watch the fights and have a similar viewpoint, or am I looking into this way too much?