Opinion: Tag Team MMA?
By Jesse Heitz
MMA fans are largely sticklers for tradition. The sport has largely operated in the same fashion since its organized inception in the early 1990s. It was designed to showcase the talents of one competitor against another, granted with the implied purpose of highlighting the superiority of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu over other martial arts disciplines.
MMA, like other combat sports, has always prided itself on what one could call “honorable battle”, that is two highly trained fighters squaring off against one another within the confines of a ring or cage, a structure that possesses the benefit of limiting outside interference. This mano-a-mano format is a hallmark of MMA, an honored tradition.
All of that is about to change. According to a report published by MMA Fighting, Brazilian MMA promotion Double Fighting, seeks to overthrow that tradition. Double Fighting seeks to carve out a niche in what is essentially tag-team MMA. In the report, Double Fighting CEO Carlos Nacli stated,
“Ever since I came up with this idea, some people always asked ‘is this like pro wrestling? I did several studies and saw that nobody ever did something like this in MMA. I wanted to create something unique and new, bring something better to MMA. Two fighters facing two fighters, it’s entertaining. That’s what the fans want to watch.”
“The UFC has a monopoly in MMA and controls the market, so every other promotion can’t help but be a trampoline to the UFC. I always asked myself how could I enter this market, where they already are billionaires, and there are several promotions in Brazil and around the world?”
“If I tried the regular way, the answer would be I have no chance, but then I came up with an idea: why can’t I have two guys fighting two guys in the same cage? Nobody likes to fight teammates, but what would they think of fighting together? The idea was ready, and all I needed to do was create the rules and the structure. We did several tests and finally had our first official fight.”
Tag-team MMA…really? This seems beyond the realm of the bizarre. Certainly some MMA promotions indulged fans with “freak show” fights, things like “Giant” Silva versus Ikuhisa Minowa, however, these relatively meaningless fights were often panned by the die-hard MMA fans, as were bouts that featured top-tier fighters pitted against less than stellar competition.
Now we have a promotion that is setting its sights on catering exclusively to this market. Two on two battles don’t strike me as what MMA is all about. Such a fight seems more like a chaotic brawl rather than an exhibition of pure skill. What happens when one competitor from the other “team” is defeated, do his two opponents then pounce on the lone man? Aside from the inherent dangers of a tag-team fight devolving into a two-on-one beat down, this format seems to fly in the face of MMA’s tradition of fair play.
This is a novel idea, but it seems best suited for professional wrestling. Let’s leave the dynamic duo action to the historic likes of “The Road Warriors” and the “Brain Busters”, shall we?