Modern MMA has been criticized by purists for losing its Budo. Hardcore fans look back fondly at the Pride-era of the sport with legends like Kazushi Sakuraba and Minotauro Noguiera really exemplifying what it means to be a warrior. Nowadays fans are treated to fight after fight of guys trying to simply not lose as opposed to trying to win. The tide is starting to turn though.
There have been several times over the past year where fights have simply turned into absolute wars. Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez, Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva, and tonight, we were treated to Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida. Each of these fights pushed the combatants to their limits, forcing them to dig deep to come up with the victory. At it's core, that is the spirit of the sport. That is what it's about, pushing yourself beyond what you thought was possible.
It was inspiring to see in the last seconds of the fight, Chris Weidman, after having been on the receiving end of a vicious flurry of strikes from Machida, beckon for Lyoto to come on and give it to him. It was also inspiring to see Machida battered and beaten for three rounds, and then turn it on in the 4th and 5th, really rally and try to put the champ away. Those are the type of fights that move and inspire, and it's what I hope we'll keep seeing going forward.
Of course MMA is a sport, and there will always be those who simply try and exploit the rules, but the spirit of the sport gets lost there. What we need is more warriors who are willing to put it all on the line and really do everything they can to defeat their opponent. We need to see the restoration of Budo in MMA, and I hope we've begun to see the first steps toward that.